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With the release of a $329 iPad earlier this year, Apple delivered a significant blow to lower-cost Windows tablets and 2-in-1s, bringing its tablet on par with the Windows-powered alternatives, and making a huge bid for the education sector.

A new report suggests Microsoft is looking to hit back at the Cupertino giant with the release of its own lineup of cheaper Surface tablets. Bloomberg is reporting that the company is set to release the new devices by the second half of this year, with an estimated cost of around $400.

This will still be a bit higher than the cheapest iPad, but the devices will be powered by Windows 10 Pro and run on an Intel chip. In order to further drive costs down, Microsoft is also said to be creating cheaper versions of the Keyboard Cover, Surface Pen and Arc Mouse, none of which will be included with the base product itself.

The device is said to be around 20% lighter than its Pro counterpart, though at the cost of four fewer hours of battery life. In a departure from Microsoft's design language since the reveal of the very first Surface device, the new lineup will also feature rounded corners like the iPad.

In terms of storage options, 64 GB and 128 GB of internal storage will be available, alongside the option for cellular connectivity via LTE. USB Type-C support will be included, the lack of which we recently lamented.