Microsoft was widely expected to launch the Surface Mini on Tuesday, but that didn't happen. Instead, new reports on Tuesday suggested that the Surface Mini, which had been rumored to be in the works since last year, was pulled at the last second.
Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella and Executive Vice President Stephen Elop decided that the product in development wasn’t different enough from rivals and probably wouldn’t be a hit, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans weren’t public. Engineers had been working on the device and had planned to unveil it as early as today at an event in New York, two of the people said.
And now it seems that the tablet was pulled at what might literally have been the 11th hour. A new unnamed source has indicated that the initial production run had already begun, "with thousands - 15,000-20,000 of them - having already been made, and which now are sitting somewhere, locked up, waiting to see the light of day".
According to unnamed sources and leaked product listings, the Surface Mini was supposed to have an 8" screen, run Windows RT on a Qualcomm chip, and ship minus the kickstand that is the Surface tablets most distinctive feature. It was supposed to look like this:
No one knows for sure why the tablet was canceled, but the general consensus of the unnamed sources is that Microsoft's senior management figured out that it would probably be a flop. Given that you can get excellent 8" Windows 8 tablets in the $200 to $300 price range, that is probably true.
But now it would seem that Microsoft could be holding it in anticipation of a new version of Windows RT:
And it's also widely believed that Myerson's team is in the midst of revamping the version of Windows that runs on ARM so that the same version of Windows will be able to run on ARM-based Windows Phones and smaller ARM-based Windows tablets.
There is also a report that the Surface Mini is waiting on the new version of Office:
The other reason we have heard - and this one comes from a source who has provided credible information in the past - is that Microsoft is now waiting for the touch-based version of Office to arrive, which should be this fall, according to the last bits we heard about Gemini.
If I had to guess, I would say that both rumors will prove to be wrong. Oh, the new version of Windows RT is plausible, and so is the new version of Office, but I still think he Surface Mini is dead.
The Surface Mini doesn't have any of the advantages of the Surface Pro 3. That larger tablet has few direct competitors with a similar sized screen and equally powerful CPU. The Surface Mini, on the other hand, has more competitors than you can shake a stick at - and all those competitors run Windows 8.
Really, the only surprise with the Mini was that it took Microsoft so long to kill it.