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Microsoft’s Surface Mini Tablet is the Walking Dead

microsoft surface mini 2By the time Microsoft’s Surface press event came to a close on Tuesday the biggest surprise wasn’t the specs for the Surface Pro 3, or the faux drop test, or the prices, but what wasn’t announced.

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:

surface mini 3There was even a case with a detachable BT keyboard, but I suppose that will never see the light of day (not unless it happens to fit another 8″ tablet).

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.

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john May 22, 2014 um 8:27 pm

"Surface mini hasn’t been canceled, it’s been delayed, and the Surface team intends to revamp the design and try again.

. . .

Since the Surface mini was delayed again, here’s what you’re missing out on: A 3:2 device with an 8-inch screen that almost perfectly mimics the iPad mini, multiple color choices, the same deep OneNote integration and electromagnetic pen that Microsoft has built into Surface Pro 3, and a click-in cover with a kickstand, but no keyboard."

Nate Hoffelder May 22, 2014 um 8:46 pm

This latest version of the Mini was at least their second attempt, and they decided to kill it.

I don’t think the next Mini is going to have much better luck.

john May 23, 2014 um 2:43 am

third time’s the charm! (see surface 3)

fjtorres May 22, 2014 um 9:10 pm

The biggest problem for a Surface mini is called Dell Venue 8 Pro, $199 at walmart.

Fbone May 22, 2014 um 10:15 pm

Dell Venue 8 Pro has poor resolution of 1280 x 800 (188 dpi), 7 hours of battery life and generally mediocre reviews. This gave Microsoft some things to work with for an improved product

fjtorres May 22, 2014 um 11:48 pm

Beats the iPad mini.

Pixel count matters…but so does price.
It’s selling out.

Fbone May 23, 2014 um 2:24 am

So is the iPad Air and mini /retina.

Syn May 23, 2014 um 12:59 am

The Dell and the Asus Vivatab Note 8 also run full Windows and not just RT. If they are releasing an RT only tablet, it would have flopped, unless its a 100 dollar tablet.

john May 23, 2014 um 2:48 am

still waiting for the windows based nook tablet……

puzzled May 23, 2014 um 4:46 am

"Microsoft’s senior management figured out that it would probably be a flop"

Doesn’t this apply to the entire Surface line?

Syn May 23, 2014 um 12:32 pm

I don’t think Surface 3 will flop. It’s what most envisioned for a windows tablet. Previous Surface tablets were to small and two fat. Now it’s come into its own.

Thomas May 23, 2014 um 1:55 pm

I don’t think it’s going to be a big success because of the size. It’s too big to be a good portable device and too expensive. You can buy an equivalent laptop for half the price that is nearly as easy to haul around.

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