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Microsoft Surface Go 2: A cheat sheet

The latest version of Microsoft’s Surface Go is poised to be an enterprise-ready 2-in-1 laptop that doesn’t break the bank.

Microsoft Surface Go 2

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Microsoft Surface Go 2

Image: Microsoft

Microsoft’s new low-end Surface device is called the Surface Go 2, and it’s a direct successor to the original Surface Go. The original Surface Go received perfectly respectable reviews from places like TechRepublic sister site CNET, and ZDNet contributing writer Ed Bott said the Surface Go was Microsoft finally getting a low-cost PC replacement right.

With the boost in sales numbers Microsoft’s 2-in-1 Surface devices gave the company, it’s safe to assume that the Surface Go 2 will be another hit for Microsoft: It’s cheap, portable, and can do most of the stuff a full-fledged Surface Pro can do. This cheat sheet includes the details you need to know about the Surface Go 2. We will update this article when new information is available about this Microsoft 2-in-1 laptop.

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What is the Surface Go 2?

The Surface Go 2 is Microsoft’s second entry in its low-end portable Surface line, and it shares many of the same hardware features as the 2018 Surface Go.

Like the Surface Go, the Surface Go 2 has a detachable type cover that clips on with magnets, is compatible with the Surface Pen, has a kickstand to prop it up, and runs Windows 10 in S mode.

It differs more on the inside, with additional processor, RAM, and storage choices, and an LTE option. There’s also a slightly larger screen (10.5″ as opposed to the previous Surface Go’s 10″), which means a smaller bezel since the device is practically the same size as the 2018 model. 

The biggest downside is likely the Windows 10 in S mode that the Surface Go 2 comes with. S mode locks Windows 10 down to only allow apps to be installed directly from the Windows 10 app store. Luckily, switching out of Windows 10 S mode is easy and quick, but it is a one-way change–there’s no going back to S mode after you’ve switched to a full version of Windows 10 Home, which is what lives behind S mode.

SEE: All of TechRepublic’s cheat sheets and smart person’s guides

The Surface Go 2 doesn’t pack as much processing power as the Surface Pro, which is reasonable given its starting price of $399. Microsoft is marketing the Surface Go 2 as “64% faster than the original,” but that massive increase in performance isn’t available at the entry price—it’ll run you at least $629 if you want the Intel M3 processor that provides the additional power. 

Specs of Microsoft’s Surface Go 2

  • Processor: Intel Pentium Gold 4425Y, or Intel Core M3
  • RAM: 4 GB or 8 GB RAM
  • Storage: 64 GB eMMC, or 128 GB SSD
  • Display: 10.5″ PixelSense display, 1920×1280, 10-point multi touch, Corning Gorilla Glass 3
  • Graphics: Intel UHD 615
  • Dimensions: 9.65″ x 6.9″ x 0.33″ (245 mm x 175 mm x 8.3 mm), 1.2 lb (544 grams), or 1.22 lb (553 grams) for LTE model
  • Battery life: “Up to 10 hours of typical device usage”
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6 capable, Bluetooth 5.0, optional 4G LTE
  • Ports: 1 USB-C, 3.5 mm headphone, MicroSDXC card reader
  • Cameras: Windows Hello authentication camera, 8MP rear, 5MP front 

Surface Pen, type cover, and Surface Dial sold separately.

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How does the Surface Go 2 compare to the iPad Pro and Chromebook X2?

The Surface Go 2 is competing against all other low-end two-in-one devices, and it will likely get competition from Apple’s iPad Pro, which offers similar hardware addons like a keyboard and pencil.

That said, the iPad Pro is priced much higher than the Surface Go 2, and still doesn’t offer a full-fledged OS. iPadOS, for all of its movement away from pure mobile OS to hybrid status, can’t hold a candle to a full version of macOS. Windows 10 S mode has many of the same limitations that iPadOS has, but with the option to upgrade to a full version of Windows 10, something that the iPad Pro, and other iPad models, lacks.

There’s also competition from Chromebook 2-in-1s like the HP Chromebook X2, which features a similar design and starts at $380, roughly in line with the Surface Go 2. The limitation that Chromebooks suffer from is that Chrome OS isn’t a substitution for a full-fledged operating system like Windows 10.

The bevy of other cheap 2-in-1 devices might be competitors as well, but there are too many to list here. Suffice it to say, Microsoft may have found a sweet spot with the Surface Go 2 that makes it able to compete with others in its price and feature range: It’s a Surface product, a line that already has a good reputation; it’s following up on a previously successful model; and it offers peripherals like the Surface Pen and Dial that other similarly priced products may not be able to access.

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Should business users buy the Surface Go 2?

The Surface Go 2 might be an ideal enterprise device because:

  • It’s affordable at the entry level; 
  • it’s easily secured with Windows Hello facial recognition and S mode’s install restrictions; 
  • it’s available with LTE connectivity for workers in the field; and
  • It’s configurable for typing, graphic design, and other business uses.

Microsoft’s business page for the Surface Go 2 makes even more enterprise application cases, including the fact that the Microsoft Endpoint Manager can be used to remotely administer LTE-connected devices so they stay up-to-date and secure. 

Microsoft offers ruggedized cases for the Surface Go 2, vehicle mounts, and kiosk mode to restrict devices to a particular app for customer-facing uses. Also, enterprise-purchased machines come with Windows 10 Pro, not S mode. 

Don’t assume the Surface Go 2 is going to be a replacement for higher-end machines or suitable for users who need more processing power–it may have a lot of potential, but it’s going to be best used as a device for remote workers, those who don’t do a lot of intense computing, and for those who need to be mobile.

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When will the Surface Go 2 be available?

The Surface Go 2 is available for purchase starting on May 12, 2020 from Microsoft’s website. Microsoft revealed additional new products recently, and those will be available at different points in May 2020 as well.

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