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Another report squashes Surface mini's summer launch rumor

surface mini

ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley is now pouring cold water over a rumor this morning by "evleaks" who said the Surface mini tablet would come out this summer. Foley stated her sources have indicated the tablet won't be out until sometime in 2015.

While "evleaks" claimed this morning the tablet is now back in full production, Foley, who has a solid and reliable track record when it comes to Microsoft insider news, says that the touch-first Office apps that are currently in development for Windows 8.x are not yet ready and likely won't be until spring 2015. She hints that time frame is the earliest Microsoft would consider launching a smaller seven or eight-inch Surface tablet.

As we have reported before, Microsoft did indeed have plans to launch the Surface mini alongside the larger 12-inch Surface Pro 3 in May, but the company decided to cancel the launch at the last minute. The Surface mini was still mentioned in the user manual for the Surface Pro 3.

Is the Surface mini tablet still something that Microsoft needs to release, even without the touch-first Office apps?

Source: ZDNet

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Reader comments

Another report squashes Surface mini's summer launch rumor

144 Comments

I have lost all faith in any Microsoft hardware. In light of these Lumia Android rumors im going to hold off buying a SP3 and XBONE as I simply don't trust Mr. Cloud Nadella. All he cares about at MSFT are service subscriptions.

Lumia android is a rumor. Just like the surface mini. I don't see a Lumia android that's high end making it to market.

I wouldn't be so sure considering Nadella's new philosophy for MSFT. It's like he wants to change a software company more into a subscription company.

Even before Nadella was there, Ballmer said that Microsoft was becoming a 'devices and services' company. Services means subscriptions.

Satya is all over place, instead of One Microsoft, under is reign thus far, it more like scambled eggs. Honestly, the reason Apple is so good is because they truly in sync or unison from department to department. Steve Jobs didn't allow Apple to function as a bunch of islands. This is the direction Ballmer was taking Microsoft, but looks like Satya is out to destroy that and is making microsoft uncohesive. The only thing I agree me Satya on right now is getting microsoft services everywhere (all platforms). But in regards to the surface line, Satya is introducing in a sparatic manner as opposed to Apple introducing multiple product on the same stage at a single event. If the surface line is considered a family of devices, then they should be introduce to the world on a single stage at a single event highlight all choices and flavors. Office for Windows, Windows Phone, Windows Tablets/Hybrids, Ipads, Android devices, ect. If you're marketing yourself as a hardware/hardware services company, it would do wonders for you reputation if when you introduce a product and or service, present the whole family of devices simeltaneously, or introduce the service on a range of platforms simultaneously; Not on iOS before windows, Android/iOS before windows, because by doing so, you'll lose your existing user base.

Interesting. Then how do you explain Google's success? They are just as all over the place as Microsoft is. I mean have you seen Android lately. Fractured and disjointed is part of its DNA, yet, who's in first place. Exactly. They have a million different services, practically experimenting with new tech daily, make all their services available for Apple, I could go on and on. Quit being so dramatic.

Sounds as if you speak on how the release updates for their mobile devices not their services as google docs, hangouts, youtube are on all of their devices along with iOS and not windows.....heck Google is probably sitting back laughing saying, "I've never heard of a company withhoding its products and service from their own platform; Why should we allow a company with such low marketshare to demand our product conform to its rules. Don't get me wrong, I've been a die hard Windows/WP fan from the start, but this is borderline ridiculous.

Google is easy to explain. They are an advertising company. They release software for free to gain adaptation and then use that software as a platform to sell targeted ads. It doesn't matter that they are disjointed. Their software is free and oems and consumers will use it because you can't beat free. Apple is selling their products as a premium product and that means it has to be polished. Microsoft is trying to be somewhere in between, which is a hard thing to pull off.

Without Office Gemini, and Threshold, it won't be successful.

As Mary Joe said before "Windows 8 brand is tarnished. that's why windows 9 brand is considered now rather than 8.5 or anything else"

 

It was the software Microsoft failed on, it wasn't the hardware.

What's wrong with windows 8-8.1? I'm typing on it now and have at least half or more of my 300+employee base using win8-8.1 without issue (I dont get support ticket like I did with win 7 Pro). If you crying about the start button, can it as you can configure the start button in 8.1 which I've done in my organization and people have adjusted just fine; it just those who are resistant to change who are spreading the negative press.

MSFT needs to dump RT and Windows Phone and move Windows 8/9 into the phablet phone sector as a true pocket PC. They could run a marketing campaign essentially saying the "smartphone" is now obsolete and inferior to the pocket PC. Anyone who knows tech knows that smartphones aren't truly PC smart. However MSFT releasing a Surface phone running W8 with x86 capability. GAME CHANGER

Please dont touch Windows Phone!! My windows 8.1 tablet freezes as hell, theres bugs running everywhere in it! Ive had to factory reset it twice already in like 3 months even though i barely uses it. My windows phone in the other hand just rock

Sounds like a hardware issue. What is it? We have S2 and 2520. Pretty Rick solid. Any quirks seem to come from specific apps (which isn't an excuse and an OS problem).

I have the lenovo miix 2. Had problem with touch (reset fixed it) problem with windows not being able to authenticate( screen would go black and then back to lock screen, couldnt get out of it even after reset, had to factory) bluetooth in windows 8 is a pain, more touch problems... The device is fast for sure but cant compare with an ipad stability ( and i hate apple)

Are you suggesting they start using Atom chips in phones? They are more expensive than ARM chips and running x86 apps on a phone is just stupid. There were a couple oems who tried this and that went no where. No one wants a true PC on a 5" screen. They are perfectly happy with the scaled down mobile apps. A tablet can be used for productivity and x86 makes some sense there. However, it doesn't matter how powerful your hardware is, you need to get developers to make touch optimized apps for your platform. 

Nothing wrong with windows 8, but because of the bad publicity initially, the brand is tarnished. You have a bunch of people who have never really used it telling people it's garbage and they shouldn't get it. It's teh same as vista. There wasn't anything really wrong with it, but the bad publicity at launch put an image in people's heads that it wasn't good. So, Microsoft optimized vista a bit and released it as Windows 7 and everyone praised it. They'll clean up windows 8 and fix a few issues, release it as windows 9 and hope for a similar response.

Agreed... it has more to do with the brand image than the product itself. The only problem i found with Vista (n I used it for a over a year) was that it was simply too much resource hungry for systems at that time.

I would like to see MS to release a 7" tablet with the following features and apps:

1.  Snapdragon 810 with LTE and weighs less than 0.7 lb.

2.  W9 Mobile OS (RT + WP) with Interactive Live Tiles and Cortana

3.  Come with Touch Office and MS Reader.

4.  Come with a SP3 Pen which can open OneNote directly

5.  4Gb RAM, 64GB Storage and MicroSD

Take my money. 

Something as good as the Surface right now in 7-8" size is enough to take my money.

If it's sold here, which unfortunately they won't, because this is not USA and their subsidiaries are not risk taking enough to start selling hardwares.

The Windows version is said to be significantly more powerful than the iPad/Android version. Does suck they came out first, but at least word has it it's because they wanted the Windows versions to be FULL office, and not just a mobile product.

What really confuses me is that I can't believe remapping the UI takes soooo incredibly long!

Or what else are they doing?

They are building it for the Metro 2.0. they have developed that thing and increasing its functionality. also, it would be a universal app.

UI is generally a lot more complicated than business logic. Most of the work on the Android, BlackBerry, iOS, webOS, WM6, and WP versions of the DrexelOne app was in the UI area.

I'm sorry to disagree but the thought behind all the functionality and software engineering are far more complex that the UI part. Take this from a developer on big projects.

This should be restated to say that shitty UI is easier than business logic, but to truly do high-end UI requires user testing, graphic designers, and developers willing to actually listen to the results of the user testing.

Probably because they are not just remapping the UI. They are rethinking it for touch. If it was just making the buttons bigger, that would be easy. I think they will implement UI similar to one note with  radial menus to make it easier to use with touch screens.

Sure. UI is something that takes a lot of time. But THAT long? I don't know. It seems like they are doing it wrong when it comes to their update cycles. Users tend to like smaller but more frequent updates more (only up to a certain point of course) than large updates you have to wait ages for, since it feels more like something is getting done.

Well they are writing it from scratch using the Windows Store language so it can be used across all windows software from phone to server (Universal App) NOT just remapping the x86 software. So yes it is HARD work for sure.

It's frustrating for us Windows Fans though, seeing things develop everywhere else,  I know.

They are? Oh. That actually is cool! Maybe we'll see more features for the windows phone version then, too! That'd be awesome. Though that might take till threshold is out ...

Thats what it is.... Said to Be... Rumor.... I will believe it when I see it... Somehow I don't think that Metro is powerful enough for a full featured MS office suite. It will be a bit dumbed down version of the Current office to get you to get stuff done... Like Apple did with iWork suite to bring it to iPad...

Look at the Skype app on Win/WP8.1, It sucks compared to whats on ios... Office on WP is even less feature packed than the Office Mobile (or whatever its called) on iPhone. 

I think they Metro Office will have feature parity with iPad... As MS is now "Cross-Platform" and that means everything available everywhere except Win/WP where its either late or contains half the features.

Also what should've been better than a mini tablet would have been a Surface phablet phone that ran full Windows 8. Differentiated from Android and iPhone by being the first true pocket PC. In terms of capability PC > smartphone. MSFT could've brought in a new era that made Smartphones a step below the new pocket PC phone.

Im not sure the regular consumer needs a phone that is a pocket PC that runs full windows 8.  I think they just want a platfrom that is on par with ios and android, and by that i mean quaility apps and nice hardware.  Windows phone running full windows 8 would be great for the techie but people like my mom my sister and the regular joe dosnt care anout full windows.  They are having enough troupble figuring out the new metro full windows on their PC's

Disagree. When has WP ever been on par with iOS or Android (in the eyes of the general public) Never. Make something better however, and consumers will come.

Part of it is branding:  nobody wants something called *Windows* Phone.  It's inherently uncool, and brings to mind the desktop system, with Office, that they make you use at work, while you have your cool Macbook Air and iPad at home.

Maybe it should have been the Surface phone or Lumia by Microsoft.....and that's it. 

Anyway, it's irrelevant at this point.   With 3% global share, and *shrinking* (in China it went from single digits to almost zero), developers will never really pay attention to the platform.  It's dead.  All that's left is the teeth gnashing and the hysterics.

I think you are talking about Windows Mobile. Thta was the full windows on a Pocket PC. And look how THAT fared.

Anybody talking about having full Windows on a small foot-print device is a specs nerd, not a real user - because in real world use case such a device fails spectacularly.

 

I wish people here on wp, twitter , fb, linked-in, etc would put the blame where it lies.....Satya Nadella, as I'm sure personnel over the various department don't agree with what's going on; they're simple following instructions from on high (Satya). So please address the issue as Satya should or should be directing the company in this manner, as it destructive and un-cohesive.

That would simply be NY. However, investors are not showing favor for MSFT because of Nadella. In fact MSFT is tracking about 46% less than the NASDAQ Composite so far this year. Usually leadership changes keep investors away until something shifts their opinion. So far he has not had enough time to make much positive impression. He could however make a quick negative impression if he rocks the boat too much too early. And the Board of Directors (I.e. Bill) has a pretty firm grip on his testes, I'm sure.

From an insider piece that was floating around some time ago, I remember reading that both Nadella and Gates were against buying Nokia and becoming a devices company.

Ballmer, for all his faults, wanted to become a hardware player.

I don't think Nadella (or Gates, as Chairman) have any interest in that, at all.   I wouldn't be surprised if Nadella finds a way to undo the Nokia purchase, and find a way to spin the division off or quietly divest it, in pieces, without the embarrasing the company.

So evleaks can be wrong. Lets hope the Nokia android phone news was also bogus.
I was actually looking forward to the surface mini. May get a different 8" windows tab if there's no surface mini this year.

What is so wrong with an android phone by Microsoft? When it comes to me I am a Windows Phone user because I like the design and the concept. Why should a Android phone by Microsoft chance that? Why should it make Windows Phone worse? Especially since Microsoft is quite committed to it since it is part of their Windows strategy.

Becuase MS has ADD and they get distracted very easily by shiny objects. They spread themselves thin and tend to leave things unfinished. Case in point: Zune, Media Center, the Courier, etc.

I hate to say this, but I'm starting to feel good bashing on Satya since he's causing MS to look dis-oriented....and to think i thought this guy was smart; I'm not so sure anymore.....maybe he should have been left in charge Azure instead of appointed CEO. Sorry, but it's true! I now believe they should have just brought Bill Gates back like Apple brought Steve Jobs back when his successor was running Apple into ground.

I don't think so! Finally, after quite a long time I'm actually feeling some movement and modernisation within MS. One Microsoft really starts gaining momentum and I think Satya is the right guy for the job!

I think you are reacting. Firsly Satya just came in as CEO - pretty short duration to have an effect in start changing course to drastically. Remember, MS is a huge organization and it takes a long time in changing culture and directions in such a large org.

Also remember, the scrapping of the Mini at the last moment last time was Elop's idea - and I think that was a damn good idea. A same old device  - just smaller, would have languised same as the original Surfface tablets. Differentiation is absolutely needed. Just because we crave a new device every quarter doesn't mean releasing rehased devices will always work.

 

Apple can get away with that - since its got a huge faithful user base. Microsoft does not have that luxury - not yet at least.

 

The Zune had several hardware releases over the years, and several upgrades updates, and accessories. The Media Center is still being developed, if you mean the Windows version. The courier was a concept, and not an actual product.

so what's your point.

 

later

-1

Some of the rumours suggested that 1000s had already been built. Surely they will be massively outdated by 2015?

This number is actually only for testing the production. To see how many fail etc. But I am still hoping for a mini. Would surely buy it.

Surcace(mini)*Win8.1+touch based office= They have executed optimise decision.
Well, their weapons are loaded, they just have to wait and watch for the right time to counter attack to shut the mouth of competitors at large scale.. Well done Microsoft.

Please also "pour cold water" over that  tweet from @evleak about a Android powered Lumia and Tom Warren's tweet about Android apps running on WP as well,please? :)

Honestly, youre prob not getting a 7" tablet to do real work that would require Office. That size is ideal for media consumption, social media and web browsing. I get that they want Office to be the differentiator from iPad mini and the Nexus, but I really think price is most important in the 7" market.

I agree. I don't think any tablet under 10" is good enough to be productive. Should just throw in Office 2013 and update the OS when it arrives as a stop gap. I doubt Office is a good enough differentiator, it hasn't been for any of their platforms so far hence the need for office for iPad and Android.

Ya. I wonder how many iPad Mini's are used for much more than email, web and games. Not sure there is much practicality in pushing the form factor as "productivity". MS needs to attract more big iOS/Android app dev shops to make cross platform. Lets not pretend Office magically changes that on tablets...especially for a mini form factor.

But this is classic disruption.  If you just release another "me too" 7~8inch consumption tablet you will never beat the iPad Mini, MS must redefine that space to win marketshare, and that will involve getting BOTH hardware and software right in areas which the iPad Mini cannot do.  Getting some sort of OneNote integration like the SP3 is probably part of that, the other is a more polished touch interface and universial apps via Threshold, last is Gemini.  The delay actually makes perfect sense.

Ever since Evan came out hiding with evleaks .... I'm thinking that he's having trouble trying to decipher what is actual leak information vs falsified leak information.

Like above, he has been getting pranked more and more over the last few months.

Yup, pathetic on both fronts. The fact that they are losing more of their potential market share due to not releasing this. And the fact that they have released touch office for iPad, or anyone for that matter, before making it available for windows tablets. I have never seen a company run as bad as MS has been over the last few years. At least not 1 that is still in business.

Every basicly every Windows 8 hybrid (Like the ASUS T100 for example) and the Surface 2 come with (FREE) Microsoft Office.

Microsoft Office is already on Windows 8 Tablets. So there is no hurry to get a touch friendly version out there.

The iOS and Android versions where a totally different stort! There was no Microsoft Office there.

They where loosing hundred of millions of potentiol subscribers to GoogleDocs and iWorks.

Satya Nadella did the right thing bringing Office to iOS and Android ASP!!

They where loosing momentum there, at least they now get business using iPads with Microsoft Office.

Windows 8 had Microsoft Office long before the competition did, and now we have to wait for a touch friendly version where all wining and complaining.

Sometimes I just think people need something to bitch about, and if there is nothing serious they find trivial stuff like this to be a bitch!!!

Posted via Windows Phone Central App

Don't take me bad, but I'm more worried about the future of Windows phones, surely the surface mini seems awesome, but I can't help thinking about WP, I feel it's gonna be scrapped by Microsoft

A microsoft product gets released for Microsoft in 2015

Google and Apple receive it almost a year before.... yeah, good going there Microsoft.

So not just windows phone getting the short end of the stick with Microsoft software. These guys are really trying hard to push you off their platform

Microsoft wants to play a big strategy. That strategy not only defines growth but also sustaining in the market. To use a Microsoft device we need other users to get into Microsoft services first then making them buy our hardware. Till now services like office, OneDrive,One Note, outlook and Bing to a small extent has attracted ppl. So services is more prior to hardware

It the only differentiator of this is touch based office MS will have another looser on their hands. On an 8" device office capabilities are not a major decision factor for most. They need to pair this with the rest of the surface innovations, kickstand and 8" touch cover , USB and video out. The major focus on office is silly.... Plus having a somewhat capable 8" device would be the right complement to the pro 3. One as a laptop replacement the other as portable device you can consume content with and do light creation. ( just include the current office and get this thing on the shelves)...

I would like to see something not budget.  High res screen able to compete with the new Samsung tablets and the latest ARM or atom processor.  I have a Venue 8 Pro, it is pretty good, but I would like something better than pretty good and the screen is getting more outdated by the day as everyone else in the 8" category has ultra high resolution. 

I am going for holiday business... Oct./Nov... Worst case, delivering Surface Mini with beta apps, upgrading them to RTM in spring 2015

This is interesting, 

Earlier reports claim that they've always made a thousands of them , if they have to wait till Spring next year to release it out then it means they have to throw away what they've produced so far because they Soc will be 2 generations behind/ a year and half old  ( said to be on Snapdragon 800) . Snapdragon 805 will be on the market by then and it will be a hard sell convincing people to buy a device with more than a year and half old specs. 

However, I'm inclined to side with Mary J on this one. But it's  possible that they'll release a preview version of Modern Office  ( as they normally do) now with the Surface Mini  and ship the final version in 2015. 

 

No one is going to buy the Surface Mini to write Word documents...how can they not see that, until a mini tablet comes out with an actual decent active digitizer, there is a market for this device?

Have you actually used the Surface Pro 3 with the new pen?  Try it out before you complain about the digitizer.

If anyone remombers office student(rt) wasnt ready intime for rt's release either but instead they released it as a preview release instead

Well I wanted a mini to replace my A5 paper pad. Give me perfect pen support and it is mine. Still getting sleep of death on surface 2, so maybe delay is also technical

The problem is that they have to either redesign the complete hardware or to release a device that's hardware is totally outdated at the release if they had it finished already and wait to long until the release.

I don't understand why they would want to launch it with office. Try using Office on a 8 inch device with no keyboard? Madness.

 

It'll launch this fall with OneNote pen input. That makes sense and is awesome. Full office on that is just some weird accountant wet dream, makes no sense in reality.

Reading these kind of articles always make me wonder and want to ask them why? Why does it take them so long? Not normal "long"but absurdly LONG. Is there any real reason for it? Because Microsoft employees are so lazy and slow or because other reasons?

Well... Doesn't sound like anyone would ask them these kind of questions but stop right after the very first "why" question.

They're not slow and lazy, the problem is they're too big.  They are releasing an EXPERIENCE not just a product.  This involves multiple teams (Retail, Surface, Windows, Office, Marketing, Legal, etc, etc.).  I do agree it's still absurdly long, and the cuts they made when the restructuring happened a few years back definitely helped, but I feel they need to do even more restructuring so the teams can work closer together without delays.

Contrary to armchair strategists, coming out first and fast does not win you the market, the market does not value innovation like you or techbloggers would make you believe.  The iPod was not the first mp3 player, the iPhone was not the first smartphone, iPad was not the first tablet etc.  In fact in some of these areas, MS was the FIRST - they had WinMo, they had XP Tablet Edition etc, but they lost because Apple made the more polished product at the RIGHT TIME, not FIRST.  So what is important is TIMING - the right time where everything falls into place.  Releasing a Surface Mini now is going to be missing quite a few necessary pieces - namely the lack of universial apps, no Gemini/touch optimized Office, and the huge negative stigma of Windows 8.  The timing is poor to release a Surface Mini now when MS does not have a polished product/experience to sell.  Waiting for Windows 9/Threshold is actually the more correct strategy.

Can anyone explain to me why Office seems to be so important particularly with the Surface Mini? I've heard this Office-delay theory before but I can't for the life of me understand it. Wouldn't Office be even more important for a workhorse machine ie Surface Pro 3?

Because without Office, it's simply just another tablet.  The Windows touch version of Office is supposed to be the better than the iPad and Android versions.  So it's better they bring a compelling and competitive product.  Also, it's geared towards students and people on the go mostly... so Office is definitely important.

I actually think evleaks is right though - they already showed an alpha version of Office Touch during BUILD with an approximate timeframe of Fall 2014... so I doubt they're gonna wait until next spring.  that doesn't make sense.

Because it's their valuable property and they want to keep believing Office is the ultimate application. They can't think or make any differentiation factor, at least one that wouldn't get copied by the competition before they managed to release it to the market.

Windows is not so bad, but Microsoft is too slow.

Perhaps your misunderstood my question. I understand why Office is valuable, but I don't understand why it seems to be so interconnected with the fate of the surface mini. MS didn't seem to mind releasing the SP3 without Touch Office, why the special circumstances for the mini?

Because they positioned SP3 as a laptop replacement, and the SP3 has the physical screen size to use desktop Office.  So they didn't have to wait for touch optimized Office.

I always thought the same thing with the RT desktop, yeah its neat for Office, but otherwise its worthless, if you dont use office on RT they should let you disable the dekstop altogether..

Probably because it is not that important. The device has never been more than a rumor attached to a development project. People then grabbed onto a pseudo-life line with a mention in a manual. The joke, of course, being that anyone who has really been around awhile and has open eyes knows that tech manuals are poorly edited and even egregious errors like this one make it to print.  It is only sites such as this who insist on publishing every rumor that keep the device alive. As such it gets quashed (not squashed) by another rumor because that is the best people can manage until they throw it out again next month.  Just rumors on rumors and each perpetuate the other. Keep in mind that these rumors are brought to you (here) by the same crowd who spewed Windows Blue as the unification of the platforms. How did that work out for everyone? Just basic rumor mongering to get site hits and nothing more. None have any more inherent meaning than the original rumor....

I would buy one instantly. I really don't care much for a touch-first Office (keyboard would always make it productive), but I like Surface line form-factor (closest? Lenovo Thinkpad 8) and at this point MS is the only one to invest in RT (I like to be a supporter of RT)...

I think its probably for the best that they are waiting on releasing it till early 2015. By then we will hopefully have the new version of RT that combines it with Windows Phone. With the updated RT it should be a much more compelling product, as currently RT doesn't offer any benefits, it's feels like just Windows without the legacy apps.

Touch Office should also be out by then as well which will make using Office on a small screen a much better opposition.

Really looking forward to what Microsoft does for Windows 9! Sounds like it should solve the issues some have with 8 and hopefully add in some great new features.

Sometime 2015? That's really sad. Microsoft needs to compete in this space NOW, not next year. By then it might be too late and the tech world has already moved on.

I agree. I had to cut my peg leg down from 10" to 9" due to termite rot and I can't walk straight for nothin.

I don't really believe this squashing of the rumour.  Summer 2014/Fall 2014 seems to be the right timeframe as this device was rumoured to be geared towards students, so Back to School season is a smart time to release it.  Also, during BUILD they already showed an alpha version of Office Touch and he said it's slated to be released Fall 2014.  So again, back to school season.  I think this rumour of Spring is bogus and doesn't make any sense.

Students should be getting the i3 Surface Pro 3, not a Surface Mini.

The way you see college students all with Macbooks + iPad, selling them a SP3 makes much more sense and is actually price competitive.

How exactly is an underpowered device that has not yet been released and carries a $928 price tag price competitive? Without the type cover it is just a laughably expensive tablet. This "it can replace both devices" BS is also just that when people already own both devices. When they bundle the $129 accessory needed to use as advertised it will then be at least somewhat competitve with high and low end ultrabooks.

Students get something like a 5% education discount on a SP3, so that's essentially the Type Cover throw in.  An i3 is suitable for most students whom aren't doing engineering/CS degrees and only need to run Office suite for doing papers.  Also again an SP3 is cheaper than what most college students buy these days - namely some sort of Macbook Air + iPad, and they usually do it when they start college and they bug their parents to buy it for them as a "congratulations for getting into college" present.  The SP3 completely satisfies this as a cheaper and more functional alternative when people haven't actually become invested in the Apple ecosystem, there's no BS involved.  In fact, it is actually harder to convince people who already have a semi-up-to-date nice laptop and tablet to buy a SP3 to replace both, and this would actually not be the case for new college students.

I would have got one to replace my aged and busted RT, but I got a Venue 8 Pro.. Its nice having x86 Windows in a 8" factor.

It does not matter yes or no for the Surface Mini. No one knows Surface because there marketing is not there. They make beautiful hardware but don't know how to sell it.

Mary Jo is correct.  I used to work for Qualcomm, makers of the Snapdragon chip that's in every Windows Phone and the 2520.  Unfortunately, no Surface Mini until 2015.

RT should have released on an 8" device from the begining instead of trying to compete in the 10" tablet space.

The Surface Mini, if done right, seems to me to be probably the last chance Microsoft has to produce something truly different in the tablet space, and I think it could really carve out a significant niche for itself if it has reliable handwriting support with a stylus using OneNote.  That's all I want one for - quick note taking - and there's no other ~8in tablet out there suitable.  By delaying release, Microsoft is just risking missing yet another trick.  If somebody else releases a tablet of this form factor with good pen input running Windows 8.1 before Microsoft do, that'll be the one the cleans up.

No, touch-first Office is not required on this device.  There is already a touch-first version of OneNote, and that's the app that will make this device a winner.  If they release it.  Who wants to work on spreadsheets or full-length docments on an ~8in device?

There will be those who wants to work on spreadsheets and documents on 8" device.
Now the question is if those users matter in building opinion and how loud their voice are heard in the internet echo chamber. If they matter, even users who doesn't use Office will join the stoning party; their opinion sways.

Some time in 2015, maybe.

LOL Microsoft, ever late to the modern tech party.    It's apparent that they're just a big, slow moving brontosaurus.   By the time the next tech wave hits, Microsoft will recognize it three years late, again.