While many of us expected that we would be seeing a Surface Mini at yesterday's "small" event from Microsoft, we didn't get that — but that's not to say that there isn't a Surface Mini in Microsoft's research and development labs somewhere. In fact, there was very much one, but Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and former Nokia CEO and now Microsoft EVP of Devices & Services Stephen Elop made the decision to push back a possible release of the smaller Surface tablet. Their reasoning? It wasn't unique enough.
Bloomberg, citing the perennial "people with knowledge of the decision", says that Nadella and Elop evaluated the Surface Mini and determined that it didn't offer enough to differentiate itself from the competition and "probably wouldn't be a hit." Microsoft's current Surface tablet offerings dominate the Windows tablet space, though by virtue of the larger size of the Surface line they don't compete in the smaller space.
It's interesting that Microsoft opted to go in the opposite direction yesterday, instead unveiling the thinner and larger 12-inch Surface Pro 3 with a powerful Intel Core i7 processor at its core.
All of that isn't to say that the Surface Mini is dead on a Microsoft lab bench. The company knows that smaller tablets are a big market — just look at the success across all platforms of sub-8-inch tablets — but they want to get it right before releasing their own. Panos Panay, Microsoft's Surface chief, said after the event that Microsoft will continue to work on smaller versions of the tablet. But when we'll see such a tablet and what it will look like, we still can't say for certain.
Either way, there is a Surface Mini, and someday it will come. Just not today. Which leaves us with the question: what size tablet is right for you?
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Derek Kessler is Special Projects Manager for Mobile Nations. He's been writing about tech since 2009, has far more phones than is considered humane, still carries a torch for Palm, and got a Tesla because it was the biggest gadget he could find. You can follow him on Twitter at @derekakessler.