Could Microsoft’s Surface 3 Be A Real iPad Killer?

Microsoft's Surface 3 was announced last week to a good deal of fanfare, primarily because, unlike the original, it features an x86 processor. That one change alone could tremendously enhance the appeal to those who skipped over the original Surface, waiting for the next generation. It means that all of their regular Windows apps will be fully functional on this device - performance limitations aside - which can make the overall usefulness of the new tablet skyrocket.

As Brandon originally covered, the 10.8-inch Surface 3 features a quad-core Intel Atom processor (x7-Z8700, to be exact), a 1920x1280 display resolution, up to 4GB of memory, an 8 megapixel camera at the back, 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0, and a bunch of connectivity options: 1x USB 3.0, mini-DisplayPort, microSD card reader, and headset jack.

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To help promote its Surface 3 and answer questions of potential buyers, Microsoft took to reddit last week to conduct an AMA (Ask Me Anything). While nothing groundbreaking was answered, it becomes evident quickly that Microsoft is very confident about its Surface 3. It's almost as if it realizes that going ARM-only was a big mistake.

When asked why the Surface 3 features a Microsoft logo on its back rather than "Surface" text, Microsoft said that it was because it believes Surface 3 "contains all of what we as Microsoft has to offer." That's what I like to call a "good answer".

One question asked why Microsoft decided to go the Intel Atom route rather than adopt a Core M chip (great question), and ultimately, the answer was that Surface 3 was designed to be as thin and light as possible. The company does seem pleased with the fact that the Atom variant they chose is of a quad-core variety, because it won't sacrifice performance that much.

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On the battery-life front, Microsoft promises that the Surface 3 will still handle up to 10 hours of video playback just like the original. So, not only is the new Surface more powerful, it's more powerful without sacrificing battery-life.

Of interest to me is the question of "virtualization." Here's where the modest performance of the Surface 3 becomes a detriment. Microsoft says that for anyone wanting to virtualize, the Surface Pro 3 is the far better choice. The same could be said about video editing. While the Surface 3 could handle that, it doesn't mean that it's a great choice for the application.

There were so many great questions asked, and WinBeta did a great job of compiling them all for easy reading. One question we have to ask is: is the Surface 3 an iPad-killer? The answer will vary based on your perspective; for someone like me, I'd put far more value into an x86 device that runs a real desktop OS over one that runs ARM and a limited mobile OS with its own set of apps. Both devices start out at the same price, so this could make for some fun competition. Making Microsoft's deal even sweeter, a one-year subscription of Office 365 is included with the purchase of its Surface 3, which is an $84 value.

Microsoft could actually have a winner on its hands here.