Microsoft has officially said that it will stop making the Surface 3 tablet at the end of this year. What does this mean for a replacement?
The Microsoft Surface 3 came out in the spring of 2014. Tablets are often refreshed on an annual basis, so many are wondering where the next generation model is. Especially as the current version is starting to get hard to find: only one of the four configurations are currently available on the online Microsoft Store, and there’s no date when the others will be back.
The icing on the cake is a statement from a Microsoft spokesperson to Thurrott:
Since launching Surface 3 over a year ago, we have seen strong demand and satisfaction amongst our customers. Inventory is now limited and by the end of December 2016, we will no longer manufacture Surface 3 devices.
Whither the Surface 4?
The Surface 3 was something of an experiment, as it’s the first in this series built around an Intel Atom processor. Using this chip allows Microsoft to charge just $499 for this model at launch. However, Intel recently announced that it’s bringing the Atom line to an end.
Microsoft will still have the option of using low-power Celeron and Pentium “Apollo Lake” processors if it decides to make a Surface 4, but this will likely push up the price for this model. But with the Surface Pro 4 starting at $899, there’s room for a Surface 4 at $599.
If this is the plan, the debut of the S4 is waiting on Intel getting these new Celeron and/or Pentium processors on the market; they are scheduled to go into full production in the second half of this year.
On the other hand, some have theorized that Microsoft will use the end of the Atom line as a reason to nix the Surface 4 altogether and put all its efforts into the Surface Pro 5. However, that would require anyone who wanted a Microsoft-branded tablet to pay a pretty penny to get one.