More evidence of Microsoft’s move into lower-cost tablets has come to light, as codenames for both the tablet and the attachable keyboard have been reported. The USB-C equipped tablet is ‘Lex’, while the keyboard cover attachments will be ‘Gibs’.
Microsoft’s Surface range has always allowed the Redmond-based company to not only experiment with form and factor, but to also use the brand as a visual signpost to manufacturers on what it would like to see in the market. It also shows off the Windows 10 environment in a ‘pure’ format. In that sense the Surface range’s closes association is that of the Nexus and Pixel smartphones from Google.
As I noted the last month in Forbes, the move towards a lower-cost Surface tablet challenges Apple’s iPad in the educational market, but with the benefits of a much more open operating system.
While Windows 10 in its many variants also maintains a connection to Microsoft’s cloud based services, these potential new Surface machines will have a significant advantage – they will be open to third-party programs outside of a walled garden, huge amounts of legacy support, and the machines will be easily transferable between users.
As Apple moves towards narrowing the options on the tablet front, Microsoft is using its Surface line-up to promote a similarly priced product that takes a more open look at the ecosystem.
All of this requires a low-priced Surface tablet – similar to the Surface 3 – to exist. The initial reports of such a unit came from Bloomberg, and have now been followed up with details on the internal builds and codenames. Mayank Parmar reports:
We already know that Microsoft’s affordable Surface tablet will target Apple iPads in the tablet market, and now a new report provides us with a closer look at the device.Today, Microsoft enthusiast Walking Cat discovered that the affordable Surface device is internally codenamed Lex, and Microsoft is also working on a type-cover codenamed, Gibs.
so Surface “L”/”Lex” may have LTE & USB-C, and “Gibs” might be type covers for “Lex”, actually sound quite like the small/cheap tablets that Bloomberg reported https://t.co/xI1qbG9JnY
— WalkingCat (@h0x0d) June 8, 2018
As well as Apple’s iPad, the other educational comparison that an affordable Surface/Keyboard combination will draw is with the various Google-powered Chromebooks from a number of manufacturers. Just like Microsoft ties Windows 10 to its cloud, so does Google with ChromeOS. The hardware is the on-ramp to services, and Microsoft’s focus on education is a late arrival… but one that could have significant impact if played correctly.