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Where's Microsoft's Surface Mini? For now, bigger is better

Mark Hachman | May 22, 2014
Microsoft decided to go big--literally--in announcing the latest Surface tablet, the Surface Pro 3.

But one of, if not the argument for the cheaper Surface mini has been that smaller tablets are more suited for content consumption, such as apps and watching movies on the train. That's not the direction that Microsoft took with the Surface Pro 3.

Bob O'Donnell, principal at TECHnalysis Research, said that by moving the Surface Pro 3 to a 12-inch screen, Microsoft is making the argument for the PC, rather than the tablet. "And that's how most people are using them anyway," he said. 

In general, most workers tend to favor working on a larger display. In 2003, Microsoft itself sponsored research that showed users increased their productivity by 9 to 50 percent when using a massive, 42-inch curved display. While the Surface isn't nearly that size, the implication is that being able to see more at once improves a worker's efficiency.

Eskridge also deferred questions to staffers in Terry Myerson's group when asked what developers should think about coding in Windows RT. Although it's possible that a smaller Surface tablet would include Windows 8.1 (and its Desktop, with its tiny icons) it's unlikely. "There's a place for Windows on ARM," Eskridge said, citing Myerson, the executive vice president in charge of all operating systems at Microsoft.

It's hard to say whether or not that place will be within Microsoft, or not. Microsoft has already said that it will offer Windows for free on devices with screens smaller than nine inches. In retrospect,that looks a bit more like a company which is working to encourage others to build the low-cost tablets it may lack the expertise to build itself.

In other words, the Surface Mini may never ship. But a third-party Windows mini? That still may be a possibility.


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