Microsoft Surface Mini to debut in mid-May?

Microsoft Surface Mini to debut in mid-May?

Summary: Microsoft may be poised to launch its long-rumored Surface Mini tablet in May.

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Microsoft may be ready to take the wraps off its long-rumored Surface Mini tablet.

surfaceminicase

Vostrostone (VSTN), an electronics wholesaler, posted to Amazon.com a couple of photos of cases purported to be for Microsoft's Surface Mini. The availability date for the cases is May 18, 2014. (Thanks to Aki Antman for the Amazon link.)

The image of the tablet in the VSTN photos is semingly just a placeholder -- not the Surface Mini itself, but likely the already shipping 8-inch Lenovo Windows tablet. But one of the VSTN cases shown on Amazon specifically indicates it is only for a Microsoft Surface Mini and also protects the keyboard for the device.

Rumors about Microsoft's plans for a smaller Surface tablet -- something with a screen size between seven and eight inches -- have been circulating since last year. Last September, I heard the Surface Mini would not be unveiled until the spring of 2014.

More recently, my sources told me the Surface Mini was waiting in the wings for announcement and would come with a stylus. Neowin.net also heard the same regarding the inclusion of a stylus -- a real, digitizing pen, in this case, not a capacitive stylus.

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Microsoft officials have been focused on making Windows 8 more usable, from a cost and footprint standpoint, on smaller, cheaper tablets. With Windows 8.1 Update, they managed to shrink the footprint of the operating system, allowing users more space for their files, apps and data. Microsoft execs also announced at Build 2014 that Microsoft would be making Windows free on Windows Phones and tablets with screen sizes of nine inches and under.

My tipsters had previously indicated that the Surface Mini would be ARM-based. I haven't heard any updates to this information (so far). If the Surface Mini is, indeed, ARM-based, I'm wondering whether Microsoft is ready to make available a beta/preview of its coming "Gemini" touch-first Office apps for Windows around the time of the Surface Mini unveiling.

I asked Microsoft officials whether the Surface Mini will be announced and/or available in May and haven't yet heard back.

Update: The official word(s) from a Microsoft spokesperson: “We have nothing to share.”

Topic: Microsoft Surface

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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79 comments
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  • Im ready

    It looks pretty good, after owning the 1520 and regular Surface 2 it doesn't make much sense for me to buy the mini. But I probably will anyway :)
    ClickHouse
    • Same here

      I just hand my old one down to my kids and get new toys for myself.

      The stylus is the key. When you work in .Net4.5 you find all screen objects now have separate properties for mouse, touch, and stylus. Using this 3 dimensional input can be complex for the developer but make things really more intuitive for the user. Reader which is for PDFs and comes with Windows 8.X is a great example. I really like being able to take hand written notes with the stylus on my PDF documents as I read them. I can then use my finger to change pages. The experience is just like a paper book.
      MichaelInMA
  • Too little (not really), too late?

    There are a good number of viable alternatives to this 'vaporware' already. Wife has a Dell Venue 8, and I just picked up an Asus Note 8. We both have Surface 2s and Pro's but got tired of waiting for MS. Interested to see what MS does to differentiate itself. High res screen and active stylus? Real USB port, and video out? Better charge off USB, not some proprietary thing... unless it uses the Surface charger. I'm not opposed to buying one, but it needs to be better than what I have. IMHO, it being RT would actually be a perk. Desktop at 8" is more irritating than it is worth, so irrelevant. The inherent security of RT is a plus.
    sj53
    • It doesn't become "vaporware" till someone announces it

      Microsoft has never announced it. Lot's of people have speculated about it, but that hardly classifies it as vaporware.
      Flydog57
    • Caution regarding Dell VP8 Pro

      I've had the tablet since December '13. Dell still has touch-screen driver problems (way to sensitive when typing -- often double/triple key strokes) and since there's no HDMI port, Miracast is the only way to a bigger screen. However the VP8s Miracast support is "beta" quality. Screen orientation problems, stability problems, inability for Miracast and Internet connection on same spectrum (i.e. both on 5Ghz or both on 2.4Ghz). With these defects, it's a nice browsing tablet but little else.
      robradina@...
      • Pluggable

        @robradina: I have the Venue 8 as well and use the Pluggable dock. It's great - I hardly miss anything and the battery life isn't an issue since it lasts the whole evening when I come home from work. I have my monitor, Logitech unifying receiver, and I still have room for plenty of peripherals.
        Juncey
  • I shall call it...

    Mini-Surface!!!! [George S. Clinton flourish]
    Mac_PC_FenceSitter
    • Nah...

      Its the Sub-Surface.
      Panthro90
      • You win the thread

        congratulations
        Han Rasmussen
  • that's small

    if it's under 9 inches Microsoft doesn't have to pay the Windows license fee!
    larry@...
  • Waiting for it

    Will be good companion to my Yoga 2 pro, with ink and OneDrive integration
    soulxfer@...
  • Stripped Windows

    Supposedly small tablets will come with what used to be called Windows RT (whether they use ARM or x86/x64). They're just leery of using that name anymore since it was so roundly rejected by the marketplace when people bought early devices and got burned.
    dilettante
    • Burned?

      I was one of those who got a Surface RT and I did not get burned! I even had to fly from Taipei Taiwan to SFO to get one. The problem with the Surface RT was extreme lack of availability, poor marketing, high price, and extreme prejudice by many who were in a good position to dissuade potential customers from even giving the Surface RT an honest try.

      By the way, I was reminded more than once by Microsoft sales clerks while I was in the process of purchasing a Surface RT that because it was an ARM device it could not run x86 based legacy Windows software. Microsoft was careful to make that clear before I purchased.

      Those of us who purchased a Surface RT loved them, and still do. But most people were led astray by extremely negative commentary by those who had decided that they must do whatever they could to ensure that the average consumer would not purchase a Surface RT. They succeeded and a really great device was consigned to failure status. Congratulations naysayers, you won, and we all lost out because of it.

      Surface was not rejected by the marketplace because of people getting burned by early Surface RT purchases. Surface was rejected by the marketplace because it was spurned by the naysayers before anyone even had the opportunity to purchase a Surface RT. By the time that a Surface RT was available for purchase, the average consumer's mind was already made up for them by the naysayers. A lot of people missed out on a great device.
      Curtis Quick
      • Nobody "missed out"

        They just bought an iPad which provided a better experience anyway. The only one missing out is MS which has been a nonfactor in the tablet space. It chaps their hide and no doubt from the sounds of it yours too.
        CornheadsBack
        • Knowing You...

          You have an iPad and dissing the Surface users like the one you've replied to. Knock it off. Stop ABMing.
          SoftBankColumbia
          • How a Surface user thinks

            I bought a Surface so I must be really smart. Everyone else bought something else, so they are really stupid. I must post on ZDNet about how smart I am and how stupid everyone else is.
            CornheadsBack
          • No need

            When people like you are happy to point out how stupid they are buying second rate overpriced garbage from Apple.
            Pastabake
          • Really no need

            When people buy third rate overpriced garbage from Microsoft...

            :)
            jessepollard
          • Overpriced ?

            Surface with RT is cheaper than an ipad though...
            e-surfer
        • No Disrespect

          But when you have something you really enjoy it is not unnatural or even strange that you should want others to know that enjoyment as well. I realize that many, many do not agree with me, but when my experience tells me that such negative postings are errant I am compelled to try to set the record straight. I use a Surface RT and it works fine for me. And this is not an unusual experience for those who own a Surface RT, despite what so many who do not own a Surface tablet seem intent on saying.

          A Surface RT is a quality device with quality software that for many reasons unrelated to the device itself is reviled and dismissed by the marketplace. Sad but true.
          Curtis Quick