According to the latest reports, Microsoft is preparing to launch a mid-range laptop under the Surface Brand. Priced between $500 and $600, the laptop is going to complement the existing Surface machines, take on the ChromeBooks, and draw a line in the sane against the upcoming MacBook.
“According to my sources, Sparti has a 12.5-inch display with a 10th-generation Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB RAM, and 64GB storage in the entry-level model. It’ll ship with Windows 10 in S mode and be priced somewhere between $500 and $600. I’m told that Sparti is being positioned as a more affordable Surface Laptop, similar to how Microsoft positions the Surface Go alongside the Surface Pro today.”
Bowden reports the hardware’s codename is Sparti, but that’s unlikely to be the name that gets attached when it reaches consumers. Given the Surface Pro has the Surface Go, following a similar naming convention feels right. Let’s go with the Microsoft Surface Laptop Go for this article.
Why is now the right time for Microsoft to launch the Surface Laptop Go? The Surface family can be seems as the embodiment of Microsoft’s vision of what it means to be a Windows device. It’s not gospel – a quick glance around the options available from other manufacturers show countless interpretations – but there’s no doubt that the early Surface devices promoted touch screens, convertibles, and 2 in 1 computers.
That role is still there in devices such as the Surface Duo and Surface Neo. A Surface Laptop Go enters a crowded market (Honor’s MagicBook 14 from this summer being one example of many), but it can still act as standard bearer in the market, as well as offering a more traditional laptop for enterprise customers.
A Surface Laptop Go would stand alongside and complement the Surface Go 2. The latter is very much an enterprise focused device. Even though it can be used in many consumer specific areas, it primarily targets commercial and enterprise spaces where a device needs to be rugged, potentially focused on pen and touch inputs, and can connect back to base through 4G LTE or Wi-Fi.
A Laptop Go is going to be much more at home as a consumer machine, a laptop form factor works better in an office or educational environment. This gap in the portfolio can be filled in nicely.
From a wider point of view, one of Windows 10’s big rivals is Google’s Chromebook platform. The Surface Laptop Go expected to ship with Windows 10 in S Mode, which increases security and performance on a machine, restricting it to apps from the Microsoft Store and requires the Microsoft Edge browser for secure browsing. Windows 10 S can be switched off to return a user to the standard version of Windows 10, but this is a one way route.
Nevertheless the combination of Windows 10 S, Microsoft’s extensive cloud-based services (including Office 365, Microsoft Teams, and One Drive), and a lower priced Surface Laptop will offer consumers an alternative to a Chromebook that feels familiar but with increased security.
And of course Apple is expected to rejuvenate the MacBook brand with the return of the titular MacBook in a smaller 12 inch form at a price that undercuts the current $999 for the MacBook Air. Just as the Surface Book draws comparisons to the MacBook Pro, Microsoft will be looking to the Surface Laptop Go to take on the MacBook.
There is both an inevitability and an excitement to the Surface Laptop Go. It’s an obvious gap in both specs and portfolio to be filled, but it also brings the Surface brand to a wider audience in a more traditional form factor – tablets and detachable keyboards are not for everybody). With a launch event expected in October, we don’t have long to wait to see what the Surface team has planned.
What would be curiously exciting? An ARM variant.