Microsoft’s Surface mini was killed off at the last minute, says report


Microsoft’s plans for introducing a smaller version of the Surface were killed off at the last minute, according to a report from Bloomberg. Initial reports claimed that Microsoft was all set to introduce a 8 inch Surface tablet, tailored for note taking. It was definitely in a bid to compete against all the other small tablets, but Satya Nadella, the Chief Executive Officer at Microsoft, and Stephen Elop, heading the Devices and Services group, had apparently decided to kill the “almost-ready” tablet since it purportedly didn’t prove to be different enough to be a hit, in their eyes. That’s obviously a bold position, considering the product was reportedly in the works already.

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This will prove to be a really crucial decision for the company, as several statistics have only pointed at increasing demand for small tablets, rather than bigger ones. Apple released a “mini” version of its tablet to much success, after witnessing the popularity of Kindle Fire and Google’s Nexus devices, and seemingly, the demand is still there, even when the market has started showing signs of slow down. Microsoft was reportedly gearing up up to release its own take on the 8 inch tablet, running on Windows RT and boasting digital inking skills. This tablet would have run on a Qualcomm processor, and would have the limited Windows RT operating system, which could be one of the reasons why this device was killed.

“Windows on ARM continues to be an important element of the Windows strategy,”

This was the reply to a query about the Surface mini, from Microsoft. We might just be reading too much into this, but the notable absence of the words “Windows RT” is interesting. Windows RT has long been Microsoft’s product for the ARM ecosystem and the company has maintained that it will continue to make its OS work with the most popular mobile processors. Of course, Windows Phone is another variant that Microsoft is using on ARM devices, and it has been rumoured that, over the time, the company will try to converge the two operating systems into one.

If that’s the case, it is understandable that Microsoft wanted to kill the smaller version of the Surface, as Windows RT was not taking off, anyway. Lacking the capabilities to run desktop apps, the Surface tablets with Windows RT are still armed with only the Windows Store for any app needs, and the app situation is not all rosy on any of the tablet platforms, except for the iPad. Taking into account the slipping tablet market growth, Microsoft might have just decided to wait it out until the software is ready, and work on the hybrid angle until then.

Meanwhile, universal apps on Windows Phone and Windows will make the scaling of  the former to bigger form factors a lot easier, and it might be happening soon, as announced by the company at their developer conference, Build. So, we might see 8 inch tablets from Microsoft and its partners, but running on, hopefully, a modified version of Windows Phone, which the phone will also run. Until the cross form factor goodness happens, we won’t have one true OS to rule them all, but it is clear that Microsoft is at least working on that vision. Currently though, in the interest of its devices business, have Microsoft taken the right step by not taking advantage of a huge market, rapidly growing or not? What do you think? Let us know in the comments section below.

Author: Bharadwaj Chandramouli

Bharadwaj is a content creator who has been obsessed with technology since the early days of smartphones. He loves talking about tech, is a fan of good design and photography. You can follow him on Twitter @gadgetbuff_ to know what he's upto!