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Microsoft takes aim at schools, consumers and businesses with Surface Go tablets, starting at $399

Microsoft's Surface Go tablets will hit shelves starting in early August 2018, and are meant for not just the education market, but also consumers and business users.

Video: Microsoft goes after the iPad with low-cost Surface Go

Microsoft is adding a new, low-end tablet, starting at $399, to its Surface line-up to help the company better compete with Apple's cheaper and smaller iPads.

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Credit: Microsoft

Christened "Surface Go," the 10-inch, 1.15 pound touch-screen tablets will be targeted at education, consumer and business customers. The devices are meant to work with a new Surface Type Cover (costing an addition $99 to $129) and Surface Pen (another $99).

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The Surface Go will be available for purchase in the U.S. and Canada as of August 2, and the rest of the world later that month. Surface Go models with LTE built-in will be available later this fall, according to Microsoft, which isn't sharing the pricing for the LTE SKUs yet.

The Surface Go isn't simply a trimmed-down Surface Pro or a Surface 4 with new branding. Microsoft execs said they re-engineered the device, in terms of size, weight, balance and design to make it appeal to all types of users on the go. I had a chance to try typing (very briefly) on a device earlier this summer, and found it to be the most lappable Surface yet, since it's more compact and much more evenly weighted.

Under the covers, the Surface Go features an Intel Pentium Gold processor. It will be available in two configurations: 4GB of RAM/64GB of eMMC storage; 8GB of RAM and 128GB SSD storage.The devices will have a USB-C (non-Thunderbolt) port, along with a Surface Connect port. A micro SD expansion slot is under the kickstand. Microsoft is claiming nine hours of battery life when running a continuous video loop (which, to me, means more like 4 hours or so in real-life use).

Also: The cheapest Surface is more portable but less powerful CNET | Microsoft Surface Go: What the pros need to know TechRepublic

Consumers will be able to buy Surface Go running Windows 10 Home in S Mode (which they can opt to upgrade to full Windows 10 Home). Businesses will get Surface Go with Windows 10 Pro (which they can switch for free to S Mode, if they so desire). And schools will have the option of buying Surface Go with Windows 10 Home in S Mode or Windows 10 Pro, with pricing dependent on which OS variant they choose.

Volume discounts will be available to business and education customers. (I'd assume fairly hefty volume discounts, especially in education, in order to enable these devices to compete with Chromebooks and iPads for schools.)

Here's the official price list:

Consumer SKUs

  • Wi-Fi: 4 GB RAM, 64 GB Storage SSD, $399 USD Estimated Retail Price (ERP)
  • Wi-Fi: 8 GB RAM, 128 GB Storage SSD, $549 USD ERP

Commercial SKUs

  • Wi-Fi: 4 GB RAM, 64 GB Storage SSD, $449 USD ERP
  • Wi-Fi: 8 GB RAM, 128 GB Storage SSD, $599 USD ERP

Surface Go is available for pre-order as of tomorrow, July 10, in the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, U.K., Ireland, France, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Switzerland, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Poland, Taiwan, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Malaysia, and Thailand. From now through the fall, Microsoft will add more pre-order availability.

Microsoft also is adding a new Bluetooth-enabled Surface Mobile Mouse, at $34.99, to its accessory line-up as of this week. It will work not only with Windows 10 devices, but Windows 8.1 ones, as well.