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Surface 3 Unveiled by Microsoft

The newest version of its tablet will come with a free Windows 10 upgrade offer.

Because at first it didn't succeed, Microsoft is going to try, try again. Having seen limited success, or outright failure, of previous Surface devices, Redmond is ready to launch v3 of its flagship tablet.

The new Surface 3, its thinnest and lightest model yet, will appear at Microsoft retail stores tomorrow, weighing just 1.37 pounds and measuring a paper-thin .34 inches. It comes standard with Windows 8.1.

The new $499 device will include a one-year Office 365 subscription and, in keeping with its free Windows 10 upgrade offer, it will be eligible for the new OS once Microsoft releases it this summer. Powered with the latest Intel system-on-a-chip, quad-core Intel Atom x7 processor, Microsoft makes clear this device isn't aimed at those engaging in compute-intensive tasks. It's more suited for everyday productivity such as e-mail, Web browsing and other traditional office purposes.

"If you do very demanding work -- things like editing and rendering video or complex 3D modelling -- then the power and performance of a Surface Pro 3 is for you," said Panos Panay, corporate VP for the Surface product line at Microsoft, in a blog post announcing the Surface 3. "If the majority of your work is less intense -- working in Office, writing, using the Internet (using IE, Chrome or Firefox!), and casual games and entertainment, then you'll find that Surface 3 delivers everything you need."

Microsoft claims the new Surface 3 will get 10 hours of battery life even when running video, plus the company has eliminated its proprietary charger, instead offering support for a Micro USB charger. The Surface 3 comes with a 3.5-megapixel camera in front and its 8-megapixel rear-facing camera comes with a new autofocus feature.

Though running the low-power system-on-a-chip processor, Paney emphasized it can run the 64-bit version of Windows 8.1. Pro, making it suitable for business users in addition to students. It will work with the Surface Pen, though that will cost extra, Microsoft said. Paney emphasized the appeal of Surface 3 to enterprise users, noting customers including BASF, Prada and the University of Phoenix.

An early version of the Surface -- Surface RT -- sold so poorly that Microsoft took a $900 million hit to its bottom line for Q4 2013. The company is surely crossing its fingers that the Surface 3 won't suffer a similar fate.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

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