The absence of a Surface 3 when the Surface Pro 3 launched was already quite indicative of Microsoft‘s attitude towards the red-headed stepchild that is Windows RT. The death of any rumors or news about a so called Surface Mini further intensified such musings. Microsoft practically laid Windows RT to rest when it acknowledged there won’t be an upgrade path to Windows 10 for the mobile platform. Now rumors of a Surface 2 successor are surfacing and, if the they are true, it would pretty much be the nail in RT’s coffin.
As a device, the Surface had an understandable purpose: to offer a more mobile, and more affordable, alternative to the Surface Pro line. Especially with its ARM chip and fanless design, it would have been on par with the Androids and iPads of the world. However, the Windows RT OS has always its curse. Even when Microsoft iterated well on the Surface 2, the odd platform still managed to drag it down to its grave. It seems, however, that Microsoft wants to give the device category another shot. This time without Windows RT.
Microsoft is believed to go with an Intel chip this time too. Whether it’s an Atoms or a Core M is still not known. Intel has recently launched a rebranding campaign that put the Atoms, themselves classified into x3, x5, and x7 tiers, at the service of “value” (in other words, budget) tablets and smartphones, while the Core M gave a bit more performance in exchange for more power draw and possibly heat. The decision not to go with ARM, however, is rather curious. On paper, it could have been a perfect chance for Microsoft to showcase how Windows 10 can work on ARM devices, particularly a tablet one.
In practice, Microsoft’s hands could have been tied. By itself, no less. The rumors say that this Surface 2 successor will ship with Windows 8.1 first, upgradable to Windows 10. Given there is no Windows 8 that runs on an ARM, Microsoft may have had no choice but to switch to Intel. It’s not necessarily a shocking setup, but still a strange one. Microsoft has the chance to give the Surface name a do-over, and yet it seems it will start with some baggage already.
But going with Windows 8.1 first might also be justified somewhat. Microsoft might want to put out this “Surface 3” even before Windows 10 lands in the market.. If so, chances are we might see this new odd duck around the time the company holds its BUILD developer conference end of April.