Skip to main content

$99 Windows Tablets Expected Later This Year

On Monday, during the 2014 Worldwide Partner Conference in Washington D.C., Microsoft's Chief Operating Officer Kevin Turner revealed that Windows-based tablets smaller than 9 inches will arrive later this year sporting a $99 price tag. He also said Windows will be free for makers of this form factor, meaning customers will likely see a larger wave of devices under the 9-inch limit than what we've seen thus far.

Microsoft was supposedly set to reveal its Surface Mini 8-inch tablet back in May, but pulled the device at the very last minute reportedly because the tablet didn't provide anything new. Now there's talk that the Surface Mini tablet will not see retail shelves until next year when the "Gemini" touchy Office apps are set to arrive despite the supposedly "thousands" that Microsoft has in its warehouse.

During his presentation, Turner revealed that Microsoft needs to have a different mindset. At one time, the company was seen as the dominant vendor in the operating system space, owning over 90 percent of the market thanks to notebooks and desktops. But the world has shifted to a different hardware set, namely smartphones and tablets, leaving Microsoft holding a very small 14 percent piece of the overall devices pie.

"The reality is the world's shifted, the world's evolved," said Turner. "We now measure ourself by total device space. We have a much bigger opportunity than we've ever had in the past to grow our business, but we have to rethink how we look at our business."

CEO Satya Nadella sent a letter to all Microsoft employees last week, revealing that former CEO Steve Ballmer's plan to be a devices and services company was great at first, but couldn't be the Redmond company's core strategy.

"More recently, we have described ourselves as a 'devices and services' company," he wrote. "While the devices and services description was helpful in starting our transformation, we now need to hone in on our unique strategy. At our core, Microsoft is the productivity and platform company for the mobile-first and cloud-first world. We will reinvent productivity to empower every person and every organization on the planet to do more and achieve more."

Turner echoed that mindset during his presentation on Monday, indicating that the company is more open to bringing its services to other non-Windows platforms. Case in point: Office 2013, the company's popular productivity tool. Word, Excel, PowerPoint and perhaps even Outlook are slated to get the Modern UI treatment on Android later this year.

There is a possibility that Microsoft's Surface Mini could be one of the less than 9-inch devices slated to arrive later this year. Or perhaps Microsoft may be holding off until that small tablet tide washes over consumers. However, if Microsoft waits for 2015, and there's hardware already built, the stored tablets will seemingly become outdated. Hopefully, Microsoft won't have another Surface RT-like episode.

In addition to talking small tablets, Turner also revealed a $199 laptop from Hewlett-Packard called the Stream. He used this laptop as an example of Microsoft's commitment to attack the low end of the market where Chromebooks reside.

Follow Kevin Parrish @exfileme. Follow us @tomshardware, on Facebook and on Google+.

  • Durandul
    If it's not RT, then I'll buy one of these immediately.
    Reply
  • jhansonxi
    I wonder what restrictions these will have.
    Reply
  • canadianvice
    It's going to be crap. For the record people, you don't get anything decent under $99 when it comes to tablets - the screen is crap or the processor is.

    I've worked in retail for 2 years now and I've never seen a person keep a tablet they bought that was under $100.
    Reply
  • stevejnb
    Good alternative to budget Android tablets, though I have similar expectations for them being a pleasure to use beyond e-book and comic reading.
    Reply
  • TechyInAZ
    If it runs full windows 8.1 then I will be buying one of these!
    Reply
  • g-unit1111
    13726028 said:
    If it runs full windows 8.1 then I will be buying one of these!

    Amen to that! Full Windows = they have my money. RT = they don't.
    Reply
  • somebodyspecial
    CPU will completely suck making it useless. Most will opt for their android counterparts at $200 with massively more functionality. MS can't seem to get mobile correct. It's either massively overpriced for what you get, or this time it seems massively underpowered. The first surface rt came way overpriced and with a 1.3 tegra when 1.7's were running already in another device (what?). I can't wait to see the specs on this $99 model. If surface had went with the 1.7ghz it would have been reviewed much better (that's a massive increase from 1.3ghz tegra). They need to start selling android models and put better hardware in them to get anywhere. RT is pretty useless and you're not going to run win7/8 etc on a $99-199 tablet and expect it to run. So start selling android :)
    Reply
  • wurkfur
    Make a phone with a hybrid ARM & x86 architecture like AMD is working on. Make it function like a standard mobile device with all the apps we expect.

    Make a pad similar to the wireless charging pads that then connect the phone to a monitor with a built in USB hub. Wirelessly using some NFC technology or otherwise, allow that phone to deliver a complete Windows 8.1/9 experience to that display with a keyboard and mouse. All my apps will be with me, all my files will be with me, and it can backup to the cloud in case the device is lost.

    Make it for $500 or less. I know it won't be fast, but a product that can execute both x86 and ARM code will be very versatile.

    My phone is 8 times more powerful than the PC I used in college. I would expect that today's current mobile devices could deliver something like the Moto Atrix tried to do but without wires and with Windows.
    Reply
  • icemunk
    If it's not RT, then I'll buy one of these immediately.

    They'll be full Windows 8.1 - they'll be out very soon actually. The Emdoor i8080 should be out shortly, plus a ton of others

    8-inch display,
    1280 x 800 IPS technology,
    1GB RAM,
    16GB SSD,
    Intel’s 1.33GHz – 1.8GHz Bay Trail SoC(Intel Atom Z3735G)
    A microSD slot, Micro USB and Mini HDMI
    Stereo speakers,
    Camera,
    18.5Wh battery,
    Weight – 355 gms.
    Reply
  • icemunk
    It's going to be crap. For the record people, you don't get anything decent under $99 when it comes to tablets - the screen is crap or the processor is.

    I've worked in retail for 2 years now and I've never seen a person keep a tablet they bought that was under $100.

    I expertise in things like this, and yes, you can most certainly get a decent android tablet for under $100. Look for the Chuwi V17HD - $67 - RK3188 quad-1.6 ghz, 1024X600 IPS display, 1GB ram, 8GB ROM, etc. I bought 3.
    Reply