The Surface experiment failed, there’s no question about it anymore, but what remains to be seen is whether Microsoft will look to ditch the tablet market early or give it a second try. At the moment, the latter seems more likely, as second-gen Surface slates are reportedly in the works.
As a matter of fact, they’ve probably been in the works for a while and they’ve made a few appearances in the rumor mill a few months back, but the first (sort of) concrete and believable details about them have only emerged hours ago.
According to “people with knowledge of the company’s plans”, quoted by reputable business site Bloomberg, “some new versions of Surface will be based on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processors”, while others will still use Nvidia Tegra chips.
We’re of course talking about Surface RT’s follow-up(s), because the first-gen Surface Pro was powered by an Intel Core i5 CPU and it’s unlikely Microsoft will look to replace that with chips from Qualcomm or Nvidia.
That said, let’s break Bloomberg’s rumor down into pieces. First off, it appears Microsoft is planning to intro at least two different Surface RT flavors by the end of the year. Bold? Yeah, not to mention risky.
One of these will run on a Qualcomm Snapdragon SoC, which The Verge says it’ll probably be a quad-core 800. You know, the one that’s yet to be commercially released, but that looks so awesome on paper.
Meanwhile, there will also be a Surface RT powered by Nvidia, but the question is will it come with Tegra 3 or 4. The Tegra 4 is expected to be about as zippy as Snapdragon 800, so releasing two very close models with different chips wouldn’t make much sense. In which case, and this is only a wild guess, I presume Microsoft is thinking about unveiling a high-end Surface RT (the one with Snapdragon) and a low-cost model, powered by Tegra 3.
Finally, according to both Bloomberg and The Verge, the Snapdragon 800 Surface RT variant could come with optional 4G LTE speeds, which sounds pretty cool. Then again, wouldn’t that just add to the production costs and as a consequence to the market price? Yes, it would, and we all know pricing has been the first-gen Surface RT’s Achilles’ heel.