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  • Meet the $399 Surface Go

    Posted on July 9th, 2018 at 20:54 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Microsoft has posted its official description of its latest machine, along with a video.

    The Surface Go lists for $399 with Windows 10 S, 4 GB memory, 64GB eMMC, without a keyboard ($99 to $129 extra) or a pen ($99 more).

    10 inches (thus, Office is free on it), runs a pokey 7th Generation Intel Kaby Lake processor, no fan, claimed nine hours of battery. Two-position kick stand.

    Unless something has changed, you’ll be able to upgrade from Win10 S (Store apps only) to Win10 Home for free. The “commercial” version of the Surface Go ships with Win10 Pro, but it costs $50 more.

    At least it has USB-C.

    Expect to see a barrage of facts and speculation in the coming days.

    Of course I don’t recommend it. You had any doubts?

    UPDATE: Tom Warren at The Verge has some excellent observations.

    Microsoft isn’t targeting its Surface Go at any particular customer from what I can tell. It’s not an iPad killer, it’s not going directly after Chromebooks, and it’s not really challenging $400 Windows laptops.

    Good stuff.

    If that helped, take a second to support AskWoody on Patreon

    Home Forums Meet the $399 Surface Go

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    This topic contains 24 replies, has 14 voices, and was last updated by  Elly 2 months, 1 week ago.

    • Author
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    • #202484 Reply

      woody
      Da Boss

      Microsoft has posted its official description of its latest machine. The Surface Go lists for $399 with Windows 10 S, without a keyboard. 10 inches, r
      [See the full post at: Meet the $399 Surface Go]

      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #202501 Reply

      anonymous

      Still only four gigabytes of random access memory, even amateur image editors might be left wanting more memory.

      3 users thanked author for this post.
      • #202506 Reply

        Elly
        AskWoody MVP

        But it has a micro SD card slot!

        Win 7 Home, 64 bit, Group B

        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #202507 Reply

        VulturEMaN
        AskWoody Lounger

        The target here is most definitely not the image editing crowd.

        Given the processor performance (about the same performance as a 6th gen i3), I’d consider getting one if there was an 8GB option. I understand why it’s 64gb of hdd space unfortunately, but hell, even last-gen netbooks shipped with 4GB of RAM five years ago, and Win10 runs happier with more than 4.

        Then again, while my Inspiron 1012 had a terrible CPU, that terrible CPU supported hyper-v and that PC got 6 hours of HD video playback, something I’ve been waiting for a cheap laptop to accomplish again. Previously it was because of the Broadcom CrystalHD chip, but there’s no reason why similar magic sauce can’t be integrated into something like this.

        Give me a cheap device that doctors can buy a few dozen of, or I can take on the plane for books/media/etc, or something cheap to get the parents that want a laptop. This checks so many boxes – a hands on review should prove me right.

        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #202517 Reply

        WildBill
        AskWoody Lounger

        According to the video, it can have either 4GB or 8GB. No clue how much an 8GB Surface Go costs…

        Windows 8.1, 64-bit, Group A.
        Wild Bill Rides Again...

      • #202524 Reply

        Ascaris
        AskWoody MVP

        Still only four gigabytes of random access memory,

        I wish this trend of lower-cost machines coming with only 4GB of RAM would come to an end. I know more RAM adds to the cost, but these are machines that don’t have RAM slots and are thus not upgradeable… so at least give us an option of 8GB or more, even on low end models.

        I recently stumbled across an Acer Swift 1 on sale for a too good to pass up price, so I now have one. It competes with my Dell Inspiron 11, only 7 months old, for the role of a grab and go, low-power, all day battery life PC that’s very thin and portable. With a full HD IPS 13.3 inch display, I couldn’t say no. I don’t like TN displays if I can avoid them! On models like my Core 2 Duo laptop, I can’t, so I live with it (and at least I get the 16:10 ratio there).

        The problem is that the Swift is also saddled with having only 4GB, like the Dell and the Surface Go in the original post.

        It’s not all doom and gloom, though. Even with 4GB, I’ve run Windows in a VM (Linux Mint for the host OS) on the little Acer. It works shockingly well– virtual Windows (7) is very usable in the Swift. I even had Waterfox open at the same time with a few tabs open, and it didn’t miss a beat.

        Virtual memory seems to be kind of a swear phrase in the Linux world. I haven’t seen this as much in the Windows world, though you still get people who want to disable it.  Linux people seem to think that VM is bad and that even if you only have 4GB, you should set it up to almost never swap except in memory emergencies (and then they “helpfully” tell you to just install more memory if it swaps. Gee, why didn’t I think of that?).

        I think most people think of VM and associate it with thrashing, which is when physical memory is exhausted and there is still strong demand for far more memory than the OS can comfortably provide. The alternative to that is to have out of memory errors or crashes, and VM prevents that (and it would have happened before thrashing got as bad as it is at any given point when people are cursing its slowness). If the VM can swap out the committed memory used by programs that are not active at any given moment, while the RAM demands are still low, it can free up room that can be used for caching in the short term or for demanding programs, whenever they may need it.

        Linux comes with a variable called vm.swappiness, and it’s an integer that is supposed to control how much the system will try to use the swap file. I don’t know if something similar exists in Windows. It ranges from 0 (only use swap in the most dire memory emergencies) to 100 (try to swap everything). It comes set at 60 by default. Most of the guides out there on the web say to set it to something much less, say 10, to keep Linux from swapping. To me, this is a (imagine the Jackie Chan meme here) “whaaaat?” kind of moment.  You’re not making thrashing less likely by setting the system to avoid swapping. You’re making it MORE likely, because it won’t even try to swap until it’s in a dire emergency, and by that time the demands will be so high that it will have to pause everything until it can complete the swap, then do it again when the next program gets a timeslice. Swap out what you can when it’s under low demand!

        Of course, this only goes so far, but how far is too far?

        I increased my swappiness to 80, and I will probably try higher.

        I have Waterfox set to use up to 4 content processes, in addition to the main UI process (and I don’t know if there is another one for things like addons). This uses more RAM overall, but I thought it might also make it easier to swap out tabs that are not in current use.  I could be all wet on that, but that’s what testing is about.

        Yesterday, in Waterfox, I deliberately had more than 250 tabs open on the 4GB laptop, and the thing was still responsive and usable. Trying to find the tab I was using in the sea of others was annoying, and there were pauses here (not constantly) and there as it was managing its VM (opening a new tab or the like sometimes had a noticeable 1-2 second pause, but nothing drastic). These were content-heavy tabs, with pictures and video content (not playing at the time, but it was embedded in some of the pages).  I used it for a couple of hours with all these tabs open, with the physical RAM showing completely full on the tray icon, and it just chugged along beautifully. I was impressed… it was “the little laptop that could!”

        I have a full complement of addons in this Waterfox installation, including NoScript. That and uBlock Origin probably helped considerably, but even with them, I was into the swap file pretty hard (intentionally). When I allowed a couple of scripts in one of the tabs to make something work (if you use NoScript, you probably know what I mean), it slowed to a crawl for a bit… ’cause I had it set to reload every tab when I do that. All 250+ of them, with heavy multimedia, reloading at once. Gee, I wonder why that would slow things down.

        I changed that setting to reload the current tab only when changing the script blocking settings.

        For all the abuse Windows gets by virtue of being Windows, its memory management (including virtual memory) is quite good. I’ve seen people denigrate its memory management, as if it must be terrible just because it’s Windows, even though that’s one thing Windows does well.  I would expect Windows to perform just as well in this experiment as Linux did– if anything, this test was to see not only if the laptop could use VM to perform adequately even with 4GB of RAM, but also to see if Linux was as good as Windows in terms of VM use. It looks good so far.  I don’t know if it is as good as Windows, but it certainly is good enough to make 4GB not be as much of a handicap as it would seem.

        That’s not to say I would not jump at the chance to get a version of the Swift with 8GB.  The amount of performance that can be squeezed out of 6 watts is just amazing to me, and the new version of my Swift 1 has a CPU that’s even faster with the same TDP budget (passive cooling, no fan!).  That and 8GB, along with a M.2 SSD slot and an IPS full HD display?  Yeah, I’ll take one.

        2 users thanked author for this post.
        • #202546 Reply

          MrJimPhelps
          AskWoody MVP

          When your hard drive is solid state, virtual memory wouldn’t be so bad. Hopefully 64GB will allow for sufficient space for a decent amount of virtual memory.

          Group "L" (Linux Mint)
          with Windows 8.1 running in a VM
          2 users thanked author for this post.
    • #202505 Reply

      Elly
      AskWoody MVP

      From the video- “We challenged our self to create a device built to the same high standards as our larger devices of the Surface family…”

      Really? I’m not thinking that is what they should be measuring the new product against:

      Microsoft Surface Laptops and Tablets Not Recommended by Consumer Reports

      Woody’s take when Consumer Reports yanked recommending Surface: Microsoft Surface reliability problem: It’s more than hardware and software

      25% failed before the end of two years… and Microsoft demonstrated a customer-no-service attitude… and the marketing pitch is that they want to meet that standard? And consider that a  high standard to have to meet?

      Sometimes Microsoft is its own worst enemy… or do they really think people aren’t paying attention? They certainly aren’t.

      Win 7 Home, 64 bit, Group B

      9 users thanked author for this post.
    • #202518 Reply

      cesmart4125
      AskWoody Lounger

      When I add in the cost of a keyboard, I wind up thinking I would be better off buying a decent desk top computer.

      4 users thanked author for this post.
      • #203019 Reply

        MrJimPhelps
        AskWoody MVP

        That’s fine, if you don’t need portability. Seems to me, the appeal of the Surface is portability.

        Group "L" (Linux Mint)
        with Windows 8.1 running in a VM
    • #202519 Reply

      WildBill
      AskWoody Lounger

      Don’t know When the Surface Go is available. The online Microsoft Store doesn’t list it as available yet, & you can only choose between Win10 Home or Win10 Pro. Win10 S (not Win10 in S Mode?) not available either. Is it available at Best Buy & Walfart?!

      Windows 8.1, 64-bit, Group A.
      Wild Bill Rides Again...

      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #202533 Reply

      HiFlyer
      AskWoody Lounger

      Pen costs $99!  Must be a magic wand.

      3 users thanked author for this post.
      • #202541 Reply

        BobbyB
        AskWoody Lounger

        and for the budding “Road Warrior” planning to head out on the next trip as a proud owner of a Brand new Surface Go, worry ye not about $99 for a new fangled pen, most Hotels provide a Pen and Notepad for the princely sum of $0.00 and you can fill the gap between screen and the Keyboard with a full Pad of loose notes on an “Ole Beater” of a Laptop for free 😜

        2 users thanked author for this post.
        • #203004 Reply

          BobbyB
          AskWoody Lounger

          need I say more??
          one-of-the-perils-of-using-a-M-account-as-a-casual-Mailbox

          Attachments:
          You must be logged in to view attached files.
          1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #202547 Reply

      MrJimPhelps
      AskWoody MVP

      $399 is what the “real” Surface should cost, what with the absense of the ability to repair or upgrade it in any way. No one would complain if all they charged for the “real” one was $399.

      And the Surface GO should be priced at $99.

      Group "L" (Linux Mint)
      with Windows 8.1 running in a VM
      • This reply was modified 2 months, 1 week ago by  MrJimPhelps. Reason: Added the part about the Surface GO
      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #202556 Reply

      HiFlyer
      AskWoody Lounger

      Surface somehow reminds me of the Edsel.

      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #202562 Reply

      anonymous

      The sordid history of the Surface product line begs for a campaign to re-badge this latest offering.  How about calling it the Surface Go Away?

      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #202584 Reply

      Noel Carboni
      AskWoody MVP

      Seems like the time for “only” 4 GB of RAM has come and gone! Especially now, in the days of Windows 10 rocking 120 or more processes and 2 GB just to boot up to the desktop right out of the chute.

      Today’s “pokey” processors (Intel Pentium 4415Y in this case, using 6 watts of power) can crunch through a fair bit of (e.g., Office) work, but I wonder whether having only 2 cores (with hyperthreading making it 4 logical processors) might make the system feel sluggish.

      It used to be – back in the time of XP – that 2 cores was (almost) enough to yield a smooth Windows usage experience. But remember, XP was able to start up and support an empty desktop with twenty-something processes in a couple hundred megabytes. Today we’re solidly in the age of multi-threading… Things like some threads downloading data while other threads decode data while still other threads carry data to the display (imagining streaming video, for example). Admittedly, the on-chip GPU represents additional compute power, but even now not as much software uses the GPU as you’d think. Take a look at Task Manager and see how many CPU threads your system has created just to sit idly by waiting for your input (hint, it’s hundreds bordering on thousands).

      But performance aside, the part that bothers me most is this: I’m not fond of the idea of a machine designed to be replaced in a year or two… Our iPad 2 is 6 years old and still serves many purposes. I guess my question is this: If you really do have only a light need for compute capacity, and mostly just need mobile connectivity, is it possible to imagine carrying around a Surface Go for, say, 5 years?

      -Noel

      2 users thanked author for this post.
    • #202587 Reply

      zero2dash
      AskWoody Lounger

      Given the hardware issues in Surface equipment over the years, as Randy Jackson would say “that’s gonna be a no from me, dawg”. (As mentioned), this seems like a product aimed at no one, for no one, but I’m sure the shareholders are all clapping somewhere for Nadella and wiping their tears of joy with hundred dollar bills over another product line being introduced.

      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #202601 Reply

      johnf
      AskWoody Lounger

      I wonder if Microsoft has figured out how to use more glue on these things….

      2017 Surface Pro least repairable ever; Surface Laptop is made of glue

      Oh, here’s the iFixit link for the 2017 Surface Pro. It had a repairability score of 1…not good.

      Microsoft Surface Pro 5 Breakdown

       

      • This reply was modified 2 months, 2 weeks ago by  johnf.
      2 users thanked author for this post.
    • #202599 Reply

      anonymous

      without a keyboard ($99 to $129 extra)

      How much more for the working drivers?

      7 users thanked author for this post.
      • #202660 Reply

        anonymous

        Working drivers won’t cost a penny more — there aren’t any.

        2 users thanked author for this post.
    • #202712 Reply

      jescott418
      AskWoody Lounger

      Small screen, weak hardware base model, and without keyboard. Exactly what market is Microsoft going after with this Surface. Without including a keyboard, you have to compare it to other tablets not 2 in 1’s. Frankly Microsoft store has no where near the apps to compete against the iPad.

      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #203024 Reply

      MrJimPhelps
      AskWoody MVP

      If I can get an Android tablet with a keyboard for under $100, then the Surface GO shouldn’t cost much more than that.

      I recently purchased this Android tablet for $80 (the price is listed as $149.99; I got it on sale):
      https://www.bestbuy.com/site/insignia-11-6-tablet-32gb-with-keyboard-black/5852813.p?skuId=5852813

      It comes with a keyboard that very securely attaches to the tablet, and you can plug in a mouse to the USB port. The Surface GO should be competing with this class of tablet; if Microsoft would position it there, they would sell tons of them. I would probably buy one myself. I would certainly recommend them to my friends and family.

      Group "L" (Linux Mint)
      with Windows 8.1 running in a VM
      1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #203184 Reply

        Elly
        AskWoody MVP

        I think they see the competition being the iPad, and you always pay a premium for Apple products… but you get great support, too…

        I had a little iTouch, and it had a problem updating, and it was over a year out of warranty. I got someone to help me on the phone without a long wait. I was passed to someone else, when the problem wasn’t immediately fixed by following their instructions. When she couldn’t help me, I was given an appointment at an Apple store (long trip, but not wasted), and someone tried to fix it in person. When that failed, I was offered a new iTouch at a significant discount, and assisted in moving my data over. I walked away with it working just like the old one used to, with no fuss… a satisfied customer… and a new battery probably would have cost me as much, so I would be able to use it longer… listening to my music on it, to this day… with no further problems.

        Think about Microsoft’s approach to support when the Surface had problems… I didn’t hear about people getting that kind of service, even under warranty. And now they want to go head to head with Apple with the Surface Go? Any bets out there, as to who the winner will be?

        Win 7 Home, 64 bit, Group B

        1 user thanked author for this post.

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