Rumors continue to circulate concerning the new smaller Surface tablet which Microsoft is expected to launch in a couple weeks, and for once I am hoping that the rumors aren't true.
Bloomberg reported this morning that:
Microsoft is planning to introduce a new, smaller version of its Surface that will use Qualcomm processors for the first time, according to people with knowledge of the companies’ plans, a move that ends Nvidia’s run as a chip supplier to the tablet.
Microsoft will unveil the new device at an event in New York on May 20, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans aren’t public. Microsoft will also take the wraps off other new Surface models at the event, including ones powered by Intel Corp. processors, the people said.
Well that's disappointing (assuming this rumor is true).
The problem with a Surface Mini running on a Qualcomm chip is that it can't be running Windows 8, but instead has to be running Windows RT. That moves the Surface Mini firmly into the "why the Bleep would I want to buy it" category.
As has been reported elsewhere, the biggest shortcoming of Windows RT is that it cannot run Windows apps, only Windows 8 apps. This renders the OS much less useful that Windows, much less Windows 8, which is why Windows RT is on my AVOID list.
The Surface Mini is expected to have an 8" screen, but unless it also ships with an Intel chip it simply won't be worth buying. My recommendation is that anyone looking for a 7" or 8" Windows tablet instead look to Dell, Acer, Lenovo, etc rather than Microsoft. Those other device makers all offer one or more small Windows 8 tablets in the $200 to $400 range. Those tablets can run Windows apps, and are much better values.
But it is worth noting that this rumor might not be true, and we might also see a Surface Mini Pro at the event a couple weeks from now. There is a mention of Surface models with Intel chips, and that could be the Surface Mini Pro or it might be the next-gen Surface Pro.
The existing Microsoft Surface tablet models have a 10.5" screen, and it has been
close to a year since the last new models were released. Microsoft might be planning to debut new models a couple weeks from now.
Edit: The Surface 2 Pro shipped in October, so it's only been 6 months.