Is Microsoft preparing to release a new Surface powered by ARM? The Surface Pro X was launched in 2019 with a small upgrade in 2021, but this 2-in-1 tablet remains Microsoft’s only Surface running Windows on ARM. With renewed interest in using ARM, is it time for a cheaper Surface to ship with ARM?
Speaking on the self-titled “Ask Windows Central” show, Zac Bowden suggests that option is being strongly considered:
Bowden highlights the Surface Go series as the next potential home for Windows on ARM. Whether that will be as a mainstream model such as a Surface Go 4, or it continues the previous branding with a Surface Go X, there are some strong arguments in favor of a Surface Go tablet running Windows on ARM.
The first thing of note is that the Surface Go brand is at the lower end of the portfolio. Unlike the pricey Pro X, which launched at $999 for the 8GB/128GB model, the Surface Go 3 currently starts at $399 for a Pentium-quipped model (and $599 for an Intel i3 model). Any ARM-powered Surface Go is going to have to sit in that same price band, which would mean a chipset based on Qualcomm’s 7c series of chipsets rather than the 8c seen in the Pro X.
The Snapdragon 7c chipset has been used on several Windows on ARM laptops from manufacturers such as Samsung and HP. These laptops have not set benchmarks alight in the same way as Apple has with the Mac platform, but they have delivered a competent experience for those needing a connected laptop working with cloud-based apps and services.
Moving to ARM for the Surface Go family would bring with it the key advantages of ARM chips. The first is price. Given the sensitivity of price to the bill of materials in the lower-end markets, this is going to be a big consideration. With ARM chips running cooler for similar performance to the x86-based chips, you can dispense with more complicated and bulky cooling systems including the fan. And you will see more efficient connectivity, especially if one of the Go models ships with 4G built-in.
The launch of another Surface device running Windows on ARM would also show Microsoft’s interest in this platform. The Pro X had the jump over macOS on ARM, but the Windows ecosystem wasn’t fast enough to react. Microsoft has used its Surface hardware to promote a direction for Windows… bringing Windows on ARM to the Surface Go family would do that once again.