Microsoft jettisons Windows RT with revived Surface 3 tablet

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Microsoft is releasing a new thinner, lighter and cheaper Surface 3 tablet – this time without Windows RT.

The new tablet joins the Surface Pro 3 as Microsoft’s entry-level machine, running full Windows 8.1, which means standard Windows applications, including Adobe’s Photoshop and Apple’s iTunes can be installed. It will also receive Windows 10 when it’s released later this year.

The Surface 3 marks the revival of Microsoft’s non-Pro tablet line, which launched in 2012, running a cut-down version of Microsoft’s Windows 8 called Windows RT. While it looked like Windows 8 and ran dedicated Windows 8 apps, the operating system was criticised for not being compatible with standard, full Windows applications.

The new tablet is thinner, at 8.7mm thick, and 54g lighter, at 622g, than the Surface 2 released in 2013. It runs an Intel Atom x7 quad-core processor – the same type used in desktop, laptop PCs as well as the Surface Pro 3 – instead of a smartphone-class processor.

It has a full HD 10.8in 1920 x 1280 resolution screen in the same 3:2 ratio as the Surface Pro 3, which is squarer than the traditional 16:9 or 16:10 ratio used by TVs, monitors, laptops and most tablets, but is lower in resolution that competitors from Sony, Apple and Samsung.

Microsoft claims the Surface 3 will last for up to 10 hours of video playback per charge via microUSB, has an 8-megapixel rear camera and a 3.5-megapixel front-facing camera for video calls and selfies.

Unlike most other tablets including the iPad and Samsung’s Tab S, the Surface 3 has a full-sized USB 3.0 port and a mini DisplayPort for connecting to a monitor. It also comes with one year’s subscription to Microsoft’s Office 365.

“The Surface 3 is aimed at students who can take notes directly on the screen, mobile workers who carry both a tablet and laptop, and the family with multi-user support,” explained Ian Moulster, product manager for Windows at Microsoft.

The Surface 3 is available with 64GB of storage and 2GB of RAM for £419 or 128GB of storage and 4GB of RAM for £499 starting on 7 May in the UK. A microSD card slot is available under the kickstand on the back, for adding an additional 128GB of storage.

Education and business models will also be available, where Microsoft hopes the advantages of having full Windows on a cheaper tablet will appeal.

Like the Surface Pro 3 an optional detachable keyboard cover is available for £110 and a pressure-sensitive stylus for £45. An optional docking station will also be available.

Microsoft’s Surface tablet line represents where the company thinks PCs are heading – a convergence between the laptop and the tablet – and are intended to revitalise the PC industry.

The company found success with the Surface Pro 3, which Microsoft is hoping to bring to a cheaper segment with the Surface 3. Despite costing £419, which is relatively cheap for a PC, the Surface 3 is more expensive than most other tablets, including Apple’s £399 iPad Air 2 and Samsung’s £320 Tab S, both of which can be fitted with optional keyboard covers.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Samuel Gibbs, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 31st March 2015 14.00 Europe/London

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