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7 possible reveals at Microsoft's Surface event

Brad Chacos | May 20, 2014
Here's a rundown of all the Surfaces we just might see on Tuesday, along with some thoughts on the likelihood of each actually appearing.

Will it happen? While there has been next to no noise about a Surface Mini Pro, it's very easy to imagine one being launched alongside an RT-based Surface Mini. That said, I wouldn't be disappointed if Microsoft passed on a Pro Mini, as the smaller 8-inch form factor lends itself much better to mobile-first apps than distinctly finger-unfriendly desktop software scrunched down to fit a diminutive display. There's already a flood of perfectly acceptable 8-inch Windows 8 tablets out there, and a Surface Mini Pro would be much more difficult to differentiate.

Surface Pro 3

But there may be more than a Mini at the Surface event. Bloomberg's sources say Intel "models"--note the multiple--will be announced, while CNET's sources say at least one Intel-based Surface model is likely to sport a fresh, power-optimized Haswell chip variant. The Haswell architecture is reserved for Intel's PC-class Core series chips, and those Core series chips have served as the potent productivity backbone for both the original Surface Pro and October's Surface Pro 2. Is a Surface Pro 3 inbound?

Microsoft added fuel to the fire when it published a support page specifically name-checking the Surface Pro 3 on Tuesday, though the company quickly scrubbed that reference, saying the inclusion was a typo.

Will it happen? We've heard whispers of a Surface Pro 3 announcement as well, but it seems awfully soon after the release of the Surface Pro 2 to release a Surface Pro 3, especially since Intel's next-gen "Broadwell" Core series chips have yet to hit the market. Then again, Intel's Broadwell processors have suffered from manufacturing delays, and rumors suggest Broadwell may not even launch until very late in 2014. Intel ain't talking timetables.

If a Surface Pro 3 indeed appears on Tuesday, it would seem to give credence to those reports--it's hard to imagine Microsoft launching a Haswell-powered Surface Pro 3 now only to announce a Broadwell-based Surface Pro 4 this fall. We'll see what happens.

A Surface Maxi?

Then again, the Surface Pro 3 could be a whole new entry in the lineup, more complement than replacement to the Surface Pro 2. Rhoda Alexander, an IHS iSuppli analyst focused on monitor and tablet research, told CNET that "There are strong indications that there is a 12-inch product coming down the pipeline." Rumors of a larger iPad have run rampant for months; perhaps Microsoft could try to skate to where the tablet puck is purportedly going?

Will it happen? Reply hazy, ask again.

A "SurfaceBook" or other surprise announcement
But what if new Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has something even trickier up his sleeves? While all the Surface models released thus far have been tablets, Microsoft's into hardware in a big way now, and I'd love to see Surface expand as a far-reaching, productivity-focused universe of devices.


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