The rumour mill is still churning with speculation that Microsoft will launch a "mini" version of its Surface Windows tablets. According to a report over on ZDNet, we could well be seeing the product launch in early 2014. Microsoft has recently announced its second generation of Surface tablets, so what could we be looking forward to regarding a smaller form factor?
It's believed the Surface Mini will be powered by ARM, thus will be running Windows RT. Sources familiar with Microsoft's plans say the Surface Mini is indeed on its way, but won't be with us anytime this year. As noted above, we should be looking at a 2014 launch alongside a Windows 8.1 update, codenamed "Spring 2014 GDR" (General Distribution Releases - similar to the updates we're seeing for Windows Phone).
Should the operating system division at Microsoft be able to launch Windows 8.1 Spring 2014 GDR, Windows Phone Blue and the Surface Mini, we'll witness the first combined rollout and signs of the company restructuring taking effect.
The reason for the later than expected rollout for a Surface Mini? According to Mary Jo Foley, the delay is partially attributable to the new OS team working around the clock on the Xbox One operating system. The team, led by VP Terry Myerson, has its priorities laid out to finish the Xbox One OS, release Windows 8.1 and push Windows Phone GDR3 to consumers.
So why is Microsoft sticking to its guns when it comes to ARM and Windows RT, especially given the negative reception by both the media and consumers? Foley explains that the company believes ARM provides better price points and battery life. In addition, you're also looking at a locked down environment with little bloatware and other unwelcomed additions.
It'll be interesting to see how Microsoft further expands its ARM portfolio, with the possibilities of including both phones and tablets. The Surface Mini could well be joined by a "phablet" running Windows Phone 8 (not to mention the rumoured Nokia Sirius tablet). With the confusion surrounding Windows RT when Microsoft made the announcement alongside Windows 8, we'll have to see how the company attempts to unite everything under one umbrella.
So, Surface Mini likely to come in 2014, folks. Until then, we have more Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8.1 to play with. Good times ahead.
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Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.