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Taking the fight to Apple, are we? There is a new report doing the round claiming that Microsoft is working to launch a cheaper Surface tablet later this year.

Something with a price tag of around $400.

The idea, it is said, is to make a bid for the huge education market.

Which as you may be aware Apple is targeting rather well with the $329 iPad that the Cupertino based company launched a few months back. This was a significant blow to the lower cost Windows tablet market, bringing the iPad almost at par with these affordable Windows slates.

The report claims that Redmond is looking to release these new devices by the second half of 2018, and these will be powered by Windows 10, running on Intel chips.

In order to further drive costs down, Microsoft is also developing cheaper versions of the Keyboard Cover, Surface Pen and Arc Mouse — none of these will be included with the base product, however.

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Keeping the focus on iPad, we also have intelligence that this will be the very first Surface device to come with rounded corners. It will also be 20% lighter than the Apple tablet, though with four hours less battery life.

USB Type-C support is said to be included, with storage options being 64GB or 128GB, alongside cellular connectivity via LTE.

All in all, looks like a very nicely rounded package.

And though it comes as a response to the new iPad, it is clear that Microsoft is aware that the affordable Windows tablet market could use a little push in terms of quality new hardware.

Let’s just hope it is working with Intel on a powerful and speedy processor for this, as one of the biggest complaints with budget Windows tablets has been that they tend to slow down with time. And even though the roots of this new Surface may be in education, it could find success outside this realm, too.

Fingers crossed we hear more on this, soon.

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