Microsoft ceasing Surface 3 production and no new hardware launches until it is done with the Redstone 2 build, a new Surface 4 isn’t likely to arrive.
Microsoft has confirmed the Surface 3 production lines will come to an end this December. Unfortunately, the company declined to answer the most obvious question that follows such a move, that whether there is any replacement device in the works.
“Since launching Surface 3 over a year ago, we have seen strong demand and satisfaction amongst our customers;” is all that Microsoft revealed in an official statement. “Inventory is now limited, and by the end of December 2016, we will no longer manufacture Surface 3 devices.” The Surface 3 is already missing from the company’s US online stores and has likely been sold out.
Microsoft had launched the Surface 3 in May 2015 as an entry level device to its Surface line-up. Further, the Surface 3 also marked a significant shift by featuring the full-blown Windows version against the somewhat constrained Windows RT that the earlier Surface iterations were based on. The Surface 3 runs Windows 8.1 but is upgradeable to Windows 10.
However, while that is welcome, what likely prevented its mass adoption is its Atom-based internals. The lack of enough storage is also another likely reason it didn’t emerge as the laptop replacement at a scale that its makers had hoped for.
While Microsoft continues to remain mum on whether it has a new Surface 4 device in the pipeline, it is the opposite that seems to be the case; at least for the immediate future. That’s because the company is already pre-occupied with the big ticket launch of Surface Pro 5 and the Surface Book 2 towards March 2017.
The reason both the hardware have been pushed back to a launch in spring 2017 is that the company is waiting for Intel to be ready with its next-gen Kaby Lake chips. No less significant is the Windows 10 Redstone 2 build which is also expected to be ready only towards next spring. As such, the company is keen, and rightfully so, to come up with any major hardware launch only after it is ready on the software front.
That is also the reason the software giant has also scheduled the launch of its Windows Phone to around the same time. As such, any successor to the Surface 3, if at all, should not be expected to arrive before spring of 2016. That too, if there is enough demand for the same.
That said, there is also the instance of Microsoft dissociating itself from low-end to budget devices, concentrating instead on only high-end stuff. As things stand right now, that seems already evident in its mobile business where the company is focussing on only the high-end Surface Phone while leaving it to its OEM partners to operate in the low- or mid-range segment.
If the same strategy is also applied to its PC business, we might not get to see any successor to the Surface 3. Instead, it could be up to its hardware partners to launch new devices in the same price range and specifications.