“Where will Surface go next?”

Microsoft raised the question in a tweet early Monday.

By nighttime the answer came: Microsoft’s Surface Go is a smaller (10-inch display), lighter (1.15 pounds) and cheaper ($399 to start) version of its tablet computer, down to the kickstand on the rear and a magnesium design that reveals a strong family resemblance to its older Surface Pro siblings.

The new member of the family runs a modest Intel 7th generation Intel Pentium Gold processor. Microsoft is promising up to 9 hours of battery life for local playback.

Pre-orders start Tuesday; Surface Go hits stores on August 2.

Microsoft is pitching the computer to educators, as well any consumer or business person who prizes mobility over a workhorse computer. Which is not to suggest you couldn’t watch Netflix or do your business or homework inside Microsoft Office.

Depending on the type of customer you are (consumer, business, school), you can get it with Windows 10 Home or Pro, or the S-flavored education-focused version of Windows, which runs only verified apps from the Microsoft Store within Windows.

In the classroom, of course, Microsoft faces a difficult competitive challenge against Google’s dominant Chromebooks, many of which cost less. Apple’s iPad is another formidable challenge—Surface Go is closer in price to the entry level ($329) iPad than the more robust iPad Pro.

Speaking of price, while $399 is an appealing sum on, well, the surface, especially compared to the base $799 Surface Pro, you can spend more for a model with extra memory and storage; the starting Go model gives you 4GB and 64GB, respectively.

Moreover, if you want to use Surface Go as a true laptop alternative, you’ll have to fork over an extra $99 at minimum for a custom type cover accessory that adds a keyboard with a built-in trackpad, if not $129 for a keyboard cover with a suede-like “Alcantara” fabric, available in three colors. I’ve long wanted a keyboard to be included in the price.

And sorry if you own a type cover from an earlier Surface, since its larger size makes it a no-go on the Surface Go.

Other available accessories for Surface Go include a mobile mouse for $34.99, and a $99 Surface Pen you can use to draw or write on the multi-touch (1800×1200) screen–and yes, your older Surface Pen will work here.

Worth noting: the first Surface Go to hit the market will be Wi-Fi only; a cellular LTE model comes later, at an undisclosed price.

Surface Go supports the Windows Hello feature that lets you use the front-facing camera of the tablet to sign in with your mug. You can also use that 5-megapixel front camera to capture 1080p high-definition video. The 8MP rear camera naturally also supports HD video.

And the tablet has a single USB-C port, memory card slot, headphone jack, and Microsoft’s proprietary Surface Connect port that you might use to hook up an optional Surface hub.

Email: ebaig@usatoday.com; Follow USA TODAY Personal Tech Columnist @edbaig on Twitter

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