More proof that Microsoft's Surface Mini almost launched in May

More proof that Microsoft's Surface Mini almost launched in May

Summary: Still don't believe Microsoft was poised to launch a Surface Mini this year? Maybe this will convince you.

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I know there are a lot of doubting Thomases and Thomasinas out there who didn't believe that Microsoft was on the brink of launching the ARM-based eight-inch Surface Mini on May 20.

surfacemini

For those who refuse to believe, here's more proof.

Microsoft made available for download on June 20 a Surface Pro 3 User Guide, meant to assist those buying the third-generation Intel-based Surface Pro 3 tablets, which are for sale starting today in the U.S. and Canada. That guide, as Windows Supersite's Paul Thurrott noted on Twitter, includes several mentions of the Surface Mini.

(My guess is the team writing the Surface Pro 3 user guide did some cutting and pasting from the guide meant to accompany the Surface Mini.)

From the mentions, it looks like the same pen that comes with the Surface Pro 3 also was going to ship with the Surface Mini. One of the handful of mentions, focused on the top button on the new pen, notes:

"Click the top button to open OneNote, even if your Surface is locked. Bluetooth technology links your Surface Pen to your Surface Mini or Surface Pro 3, so when you click the button, your Surface responds instantly."

Microsoft was expected to launch both the Surface Mini and the Surface Pro 3 on May 20 in New York City, according to information provided by my own and others' sources. At the last minute, Microsoft is believed to have decided against launching the Mini. Rumor has it the decision was CEO Satya Nadella's, and he decided the smaller, ARM-based Surface wasn't differentiated enough to make sense to launch at this time.

Microsoft allegedly manufactured quite a few of these devices ahead of the launch, most likely as part of its testing process. If the company is waiting on Windows Threshold and/or the touch-optimized Windows Store "Gemini" Office apps to launch the Surface Mini, we may not see these devices until Spring 2015 at the earliest. I wonder whether Microsoft will end up using the ones it built for parts.

I was more excited for the Surface Mini than the 12-inch Surface Pro 3. I was hoping the Surface Mini might finally get me to abandon my paper notebooks and real pens for notetaking. Maybe next year....

Meanwhile, speaking of Surface, on June 20, Microsoft officials updated the Microsoft online Store to reflect that the Core i3 and Core i7 models of the Surface Pro 3 will be available to ship on August 1, instead of August 31. The Surface Pro 3 dock also now has an August 15 availability date in the Microsoft online store. (These dates are for U.S. and Canadian customers only, as far as I know.)

Topics: Mobility, Microsoft, Tablets, ARM

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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Talkback

46 comments
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  • They should have launched Mini...

    Instead of marketing Surface Pro 3 as a real laptop replacement, they should have made a real 13 inch laptop and keep the Surface Pro 3 at 10 inch.
    Owl:Net
    • Hard keybord

      A hard keyboard attachment instead of a keyboard cover would have done it right. The Surface Pro 3 is on target... except for the keyboard. The Keyboard cover is perfect for occasional use but I would not spend my entire day using it.

      I ordered a Surface Pro 3 and I'll get it by the end of the day according to UPS. However, I will mainly use it as a tablet or as a PC connected to standard Logitech keyboard/mouse. My Surface 2 keyboard is "ok" but that's about it.
      gbouchard99@...
      • Try it with the Sculpt keyboard

        it is a dream.
        Mac_PC_FenceSitter
      • Keyboard cover is a fail

        That is the main reason I'm staying away from all versions of the Surface (second reason is price and the fact that the keyboard is not even included in that price).

        I have an Asus Transformer Book T100 and it's keyboard dock is great. It might not be the powerhouse that the Surface Pro is, but it's quite decent for everyday use, the Atom Bay Trail processor is quite acceptable is performance and battery usage.

        If the Surface came with a similar keyboard dock, I might have considered it. I might eventually find a hybrid with a keyboard dock and more powerful processor than the T100, but for now I'm happy with it and my regular laptop (which is a powerhouse).
        lepoete73
        • Both

          Really MS should just release a clam shell like keyboard cover as well as the type covers. Personally I would use the type covers as they are thinner, lighter, and flipping them backwards or even detaching and reattaching backwards is just so easy. It allows the Surface to transition between modes on the go in a second.
          Rann Xeroxx
          • Re: Both

            I agree. I love the Type Cover. The only way I would opt for a clamshell keyboard for my Surface would be if I used it on my lap a lot. The excellent Type Cover and the built-in kickstand are the standout features of the Surface line.
            kb5ynf
    • wow a comment not involving google trolling (BTW: google rules!)

      Windows needs to be on as big a (non touch) screen as possible to make sense. Nadella may be a relative voice of reason if he was responsible for killing the surface mini as one of his first big decisions. Hopefully he will kill off the whole consumer/hardware division and focus only on business software and services, including android and iOS apps.
      drwong
      • on the other hand.....

        I've had a hard time putting down my Dell Venue Pro 8, it's very handy to use, and makes sense. Also fits well in my pants back pocket. Tried Google several times, unfortunately, the major players put in their own twist, and screw it up for me.
        ray746
    • Owl is right.

      Microsoft are crazy to keep making devices that are basically laptops with all the disadvantages of tablets - and few of the advantages.

      Put some resources into making better laptops.

      Marketing a laptop disguised as a 7" tablet wouldn't even have been funny.
      Heenan73
    • Completely disagree

      A 10" full Windows with i processor is far less useful then a 12" one for professionals. It would be one thing if it were still thick and heavy but as thin and light as it is, there is no reason not to add in those extra very useful 2".

      Leave the 10" screen for companion devices like the Surface 2.
      Rann Xeroxx
  • No

    13 inch laptops are boring. All laptops with fixed keyboards are unwieldy and boring. A new one from Microsoft would add very little to an already crowded place. Surface Pro 3 has a 12" 3:2 screen that is actually a little bit taller than a common 13" 16:9 screen, yet it is much smaller, lighter, can used in portrait orientation for much more convenient document reading, etc. it's so much better.
    Earthling2
    • Boring keyboard?

      Was it supposed to dance for you? :-)
      Gisabun
  • Why no Mini?

    I can't understand the thinking behind holding this device back. Even if the reasons are to differentiate via Touch-First Office, this makes no sense. Having this (relatively) affordable device available, and in a popular form factor, would advance the user-base of the platform. Not having it available guarantees that your sales will be "zero" month on month until the thing actually launches, which is eons from now.

    So what if it would be "better," or "different," with Touch-First Office. At the current rate of development in this area, and given that they now seem ready to wait to early 2015, they could easily justify selling this device now, and then launching the new (and much improved) one in a year as "Surface Mini 2." They could then sell the original Mini discounted to grow market share (and, with it, developer interest).

    With the current "strategy," the growth in the user base of this platform is significantly impaired with MS relying exclusively on the Surface 2. Somebody explain this to me, since I sure as hell don't get it.
    John Selden
    • Holding Back

      I think they are holding it back because they are claiming the SP3 is a laptop replacement.

      I don't see the mini as a laptop replacement so that would be sending mix messages if they had both out at the same time.
      THavoc
      • This is a worse reason than those already alleged

        What requires MS to market all its hardware as a laptop replacement? It's not a mixed message if you market one tablet, which is large enough and powerful enough to be a laptop replacement, and another, which is too small to replace a laptop, as a tablet. All it achieves is to leave an 8" hole (by far the most popular form factor) in its line of mobile devices.
        John Selden
        • Mixed Message

          Now MS would have to have two different messages and that can confuse the general public.

          They seem to want to only have one message at a time with their SP line.
          THavoc
        • Mix messages

          Right now they are marketing the SP3 as a hybrid tablet and laptop replacement. They are saying you don't need to buy two device when the Surface Pro 3 can be both your tablet and notebook. This was a mistake.

          Introducing the mini would concede that users actually want two devices, a smaller size tablet for ideal consumption and a large screen notebook/laptop with good keyboard for productivity. They would be conceding that this one size fits all use case hybrid approach failed to garner any attention in the market, again.

          They should stop trying to market the Surface Pro 3 as this tablet 'device' that can take on the iPad and instead sell it as a MacBook Air competitor - a notebook with touch capabilities. And bring out the mini as their true tablet device to take on the most popular segment of the tablet market. 8" and smaller. Consumers are not looking for 12" tablets, so why even call the Surface Pro 3 a tablet?
          dave95.
          • A consumer can only have one device?

            Fit for purpose is not part of Microsoft's vocabulary?
            gadgety
    • They have seen the future ....

      They held it back because it wasn't competitive against the upcoming tide of full windows Bay Trail tablets at prices between $100 and $250. By Christmas it would have been in the bargain bin and widely ridiculed.

      Win RT has an antidote, its called "Free Windows with Bing"
      P0l0nium
      • We don't know if it's free with Bing

        (Although, it's technically 0$ licensing, not called free), but it is cheaper.
        Michael Alan Goff