(Forbes)– Microsoft is expected to announce the availability of an LTE Surface tablet later this week at its Future Decoded, reports Ars Technica and others. The Surface Pro was announced in June 2017 and support for an LTE version was mentioned but with no details on the release date.
Although Microsoft has called a halt to further developments of Windows 10 on Mobile (restricting updates to security patches and bug fixes) the importance of the Surface hardware to Microsoft is clear. Its recent financial results showed an increase in revenue and the Surface division return to profitability.
But the real growth, and the area that CEO Satya Nadella would like people to focus on is cloud revenue, which is comfortably beating the internal targets and gives Microsoft an ‘in’ to the smartphone market through suite of iOS and Android apps. Microsoft’s focus on mobile has moved away from the OS layer over the last year or two and switched to bringing users into the cloud as the prime goal.
With the Surface portfolio, Microsoft is taking the opportunity to push the envelope of the hardware to show off the ultimate power of a Windows 10 powered computer. That gives a strong signal to third-party manufacturers as to the desires of Redmond for hardware designs, but the promotion of Windows 10 is arguably promoting the easiest on-ramp to Microsoft’s cloud services.
Without the use of a Microsoft account, the full power of Windows 10 cannot be unlocked. And once the user has signed up, the cloud services will unlock more potential in their smartphone (no matter the OS) and increase the retention and satisfaction levels.
That’s why the LTE option is a curious but welcome option. This won’t be the first Surface device to come with an LTE option, the Surface 3 came with such an option back in 2015, but the Surface Pro with LTE is going to be a different beast. My assumption is that this ultrabook/tablet hybrid will be targeted at enterprise customers, to allow a corporate machine to go online no matter where it is, and to encourage more connectivity from an enterprise device into Microsoft’s cloud services.