Microsoft Ending Surface 3 Production Later This Year, Is Surface 4 On The Horizon?

If you've recently tried shopping for a Surface 3 tablet, you may have noticed that your options have dwindled. Over at the Microsoft Store, the only SKU that's in stock is the model with 64GB of storage, 2GB of RAM, and Wi-Fi + 4G connectivity. The other three models are sold out and it's anyone's guess if they'll be back in stock before Microsoft ends production altogether by the end of the year.

"Since launching Surface 3 over a year ago, we have seen strong demand and satisfaction amongst our customers. Inventory is now limited and by the end of December 2016, we will no longer manufacture Surface 3 devices," Microsoft said in a statement regarding Surface 3's availability.

Surface 3

There's an option to have the Microsoft Store send you an email when a particular SKU becomes available, but when Brad Sams at pinged a sales representative through online chat and asked when they'll be back in stock, the rep had no idea. Armed with that information, all we can do is speculate, and we find it hard to believe that there's been a sudden spike in demand for the three SKUs that are now out of stock. It's possible that Microsoft simply stopped producing new Surface 3 tablets altogether and has run out of inventory on three of its four models.

If you're determined to pick up an alternative Surface 3, you can find more options at Best Buy, both online and in the company's brick-and-mortar stores (depending on where you live). In addition to the aforementioned 64GB model, Best Buy also sells the 128GB version (Wi-Fi only), which happens to be on sale for $450. That's $50 cheaper than what the Microsoft Store has it listed at, which itself is on sale from $599.

While Microsoft has confirmed that it's ending production of the Surface 3, it hasn't made any official statements about a possible successor. It's a little more difficult to speculate on whether or not there will be a Surface 4. Looking at Microsoft's past earnings reports, the Surface category has done well, but sales have mostly been driven by Surface Pro models, and more recently by the Surface Book as well.

If Microsoft does release a Surface 4 for the entry-level tablet crowd, it will be interesting to see what kind of hardware it uses. The Surface 3 is powered by Intel's Atom SoC based on Cherry Trail, while a Surface 4 could see a bump to Pentium or Celeron chip based on Intel's forthcoming Apollo Lake architecture aimed at 2-in-1 devices, or a Core M part, the latter of which already powers one of the Surface Pro 4 models.