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Microsoft May Have Killed Off Surface Mini

By - Source: DigiTimes | B 17 comments

The last we heard, Microsoft chose not to reveal the Surface Mini in late May because the company wanted to launch the device with the Office 2013 Modern UI apps "Gemini," which have yet to reveal themselves. The company even had 15,000 to 20,000 of the devices ready for retail. Now there’s a chance we’ll never see the tablet on the market.

Unnamed sources in the upstream supply chain told DigiTimes that Microsoft has called off plans to mass produce the Surface Mini because of the "fierce competition "in the 7-inch to 8-inch tablet market. Microsoft also received negative feedback from its "brand vendor clients."

The Surface Mini was said to have a screen between 7-inches and 8-inches in size and a 1400 x 1080 pixel resolution. Windows 8.1 RT was the chosen platform given the tablet’s ARM-based Qualcomm processor. The tablet was even expected to have its own digitizer pen for drawing, taking notes and so on.

Sources said that the Surface Mini’s hardware really had nothing to help give it a competitive edge over the competition. Because of this, Microsoft decided to postpone the tablet’s release, and could possibly cancel the project altogether. Sources also said that even through production was halted, Microsoft paid the costs associated with module development and production equipment.

Strangely enough, part of the reason behind the Surface Mini halt is blamed on Apple. The upcoming 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch iPhones are expected to undermine demand for the 7-inch tablet segment form factor. Brand vendors are also blamed, as they are churning out tablets for around $100; white-box models are going for around $50.

While Microsoft will likely deny rumors such as this one, plenty of evidence over the last several months suggest that the tablet was indeed locked and loaded for a debut in May. The Surface Pro 3 guide was one revealing source, as was a listing for a Surface Mini cover on Amazon.

Additional reports point back to the touch-based "Gemini" apps for Office. Sources said that CEO Satya Nadella allowed the Office team to place these apps on hold while the team pumps out a touch version of Office for Android this year. The Windows version may not even hit the market until Windows 9 “Threshold” is released next year.

"Microsoft the OEM built a device expecting Microsoft the software company to deliver a compelling experience for it," writes former Microsoft engineer Hal Berenson on CITEworld. "Microsoft the software company failed to deliver, forcing Microsoft the OEM to postpone or cancel a product it knew couldn’t be successful in the market. CEO Satya Nadella just experienced first-hand what OEM CEOs have been experiencing for much of the last two decades."

Berenson said he hopes Microsoft learns important lessons by being in the hardware business.

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  • 5 Hide
    stevejnb , June 30, 2014 12:37 PM
    Pity, but, more interested in the Surface 3 anyways. Give that thing a digitizer and the kickstand of the Surface Pro 3 and I'm in.
  • -8 Hide
    southernshark , June 30, 2014 12:59 PM
    They should kill the Surface off entirely. The Pro 3 is a very interesting product, which I plan on buying once Broadwell 14nm chips are out (although that will probably be Pro or maybe just Pro... following Apples route).
  • -2 Hide
    southernshark , June 30, 2014 1:00 PM
    in case I wasn't clear, I meant the Surface Pro is a great product, but the Surface is basically a failure.
  • Display all 17 comments.
  • 3 Hide
    kawininjazx , June 30, 2014 1:22 PM
    I have a 64gb Surface RT with the Type Cover 2, I absolutely love it. The full IE browser is awesome and eliminates the need for a bunch of gimped apps. The Windows Store isn't that great, but good enough. I love snapping off the keyboard and using it like a tablet, snapping it back on and using the kickstand to use it like a laptop, and they are so cheap right now. Windows RT is a great mobile platform, wish it had more support.
  • 0 Hide
    MANOFKRYPTONAK , June 30, 2014 2:14 PM
    I was hoping to see this compete against the nexus 8, and the ipad mini 3. I was going to choose the best of the three... The more choices we all win. Oh well I can look at other windows tablets too.
  • 1 Hide
    brettms71 , June 30, 2014 2:40 PM
    Quote:
    in case I wasn't clear, I meant the Surface Pro is a great product, but the Surface is basically a failure.


    Not so. We have several at work, and provide a cost effective tablet for our work environment. Which sometimes destroys tablets due to the nature of the environment we work in. So a cheap functional tablet is far better than an expensive one that doesn't actually provide any other benefit to us. Just because you don't see a need for the Surface (RT), doesn't mean they should drop them. Maybe if they aren't making money sure, but that would be up to MS.
  • -1 Hide
    Draven35 , June 30, 2014 10:52 PM
    how bout a Surface Semi-Pro... with a 'Pentium', 'Celeron' or i3, and a stylus and... well, long as it s enough to run Sketchbook Pro and Photoshop...
  • 0 Hide
    Osmin , June 30, 2014 11:25 PM
    The Windows RT tablets are selling so poorly that you can get great deals on them. If all you are going to do is browse the net, read mail, use office, and play the free games then you can't beat the experience of the Windows RT tablet. I don't own a Windows tablet but have family members that could not resist the under $250 tablet with a keyboard and office. I enjoyed using the keyboard with the touchpad to move the mouse pointer when needed. My eyes would strain on an 8 inch tablet using Word or Excel so why not get the bigger brother at a lower cost with a decent keyboard? If I didn't have an office 360 account from my job, then I would have jumped at the low price to use Word in a comfortable environment. I like using Microsoft Office for the iPad but miss the ease of the Windows RT tablet detachable keyboard with touchpad.
  • 0 Hide
    stevejnb , July 1, 2014 5:46 AM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    in case I wasn't clear, I meant the Surface Pro is a great product, but the Surface is basically a failure.


    Not so. We have several at work, and provide a cost effective tablet for our work environment. Which sometimes destroys tablets due to the nature of the environment we work in. So a cheap functional tablet is far better than an expensive one that doesn't actually provide any other benefit to us. Just because you don't see a need for the Surface (RT), doesn't mean they should drop them. Maybe if they aren't making money sure, but that would be up to MS.


    This is pretty much it.

    Granted, if the Surface Pro cost the same, I'd probably go for it ahead of a regular Surface tablet for my day to day lug it around to work, to class, on transit, etc - but even that is only a probably. For those purposes, lighter and longer lasting battery are rather big deals, and my ability to play a round of Civilization V or MTGO isn't as important. On the other hand, when I'm doing wood work, framing a house or something, I don't want to have to be *terrified* of breaking the tablet I have in a small backpack with an audiobook running to a bluetooth headset. My ability to then take that same tablet to school and use it for note taking, paper writing, or projecting media all quite easily, it's a really slick unit for my needs.

    Since the regular Surface tablet fulfills 95% of the things I want to use it for on a work day at about half the cost of a Pro tablet, I am quite interested in the regular Surface line for on the go. If you don't find it suits your needs, that's fine - but do you really have to act as if it shouldn't exist just because *you* don't want it?
  • 0 Hide
    MANOFKRYPTONAK , July 1, 2014 5:58 AM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    Quote:
    in case I wasn't clear, I meant the Surface Pro is a great product, but the Surface is basically a failure.


    Not so. We have several at work, and provide a cost effective tablet for our work environment. Which sometimes destroys tablets due to the nature of the environment we work in. So a cheap functional tablet is far better than an expensive one that doesn't actually provide any other benefit to us. Just because you don't see a need for the Surface (RT), doesn't mean they should drop them. Maybe if they aren't making money sure, but that would be up to MS.


    This is pretty much it.

    Granted, if the Surface Pro cost the same, I'd probably go for it ahead of a regular Surface tablet for my day to day lug it around to work, to class, on transit, etc - but even that is only a probably. For those purposes, lighter and longer lasting battery are rather big deals, and my ability to play a round of Civilization V or MTGO isn't as important. On the other hand, when I'm doing wood work, framing a house or something, I don't want to have to be *terrified* of breaking the tablet I have in a small backpack with an audiobook running to a bluetooth headset. My ability to then take that same tablet to school and use it for note taking, paper writing, or projecting media all quite easily, it's a really slick unit for my needs.

    Since the regular Surface tablet fulfills 95% of the things I want to use it for on a work day at about half the cost of a Pro tablet, I am quite interested in the regular Surface line for on the go. If you don't find it suits your needs, that's fine - but do you really have to act as if it shouldn't exist just because *you* don't want it?


    I think the Surface is fine, but it is overpriced compared to other tablets that are available. I was hoping for the mini, for more competition in that size bracket. I think if companies want to produce a tablet or whatever they should, more competition means more to choose from and better prices for all.
  • 0 Hide
    stevejnb , July 1, 2014 6:57 AM
    Quote:


    I think the Surface is fine, but it is overpriced compared to other tablets that are available. I was hoping for the mini, for more competition in that size bracket. I think if companies want to produce a tablet or whatever they should, more competition means more to choose from and better prices for all.


    I can actually agree with this. All things being equal, it's overpriced compared to many Android tablets - a page out of Apple's pricing book, if you will.

    Problem is, I used Android tablets in this capacity for about two years before getting a Surface RT, and the RT is just more well suited for it. It has a USB port, has a desktop with actual real non-app garbage office, has multitasking that doesn't suck a nut, the keyboard clip on is possibly the best light/mobile keyboard solution I can find and I still have the option of a Bluetooth one if I want... I honestly believe the price should either include the keyboard or have another $50 or $100 bumped off, but, I'm kind of between a rock and a hard place - I don't want to go back to more price worthy Android tablets because they aren't as good for the job, but I'd also not pay the $350-$450 I pay for a Surface at the moment. But, that's still low enough that I don't mind bringing it into rather rugged situations, so I still bite the bullet and go with the Surface, whereas the Pro is just out of the "if it breaks, it breaks" price range.

    I can agree - price is too high for what you get when you can get an almost as functional Android tablet for about half the price. Simply put, Android is still a more media consumption/toy focused operating system, and I need this thing for work, a lot of it academic. I don't have the time or inclination to go messing around with trying to find acceptable apps for most of the stuff I do, carting around a Bluetooth keyboard, etc...
  • 0 Hide
    MANOFKRYPTONAK , July 1, 2014 7:06 AM
    Quote:
    Quote:


    I think the Surface is fine, but it is overpriced compared to other tablets that are available. I was hoping for the mini, for more competition in that size bracket. I think if companies want to produce a tablet or whatever they should, more competition means more to choose from and better prices for all.


    I can actually agree with this. All things being equal, it's overpriced compared to many Android tablets - a page out of Apple's pricing book, if you will.

    Problem is, I used Android tablets in this capacity for about two years before getting a Surface RT, and the RT is just more well suited for it. It has a USB port, has a desktop with actual real non-app garbage office, has multitasking that doesn't suck a nut, the keyboard clip on is possibly the best light/mobile keyboard solution I can find and I still have the option of a Bluetooth one if I want... I honestly believe the price should either include the keyboard or have another $50 or $100 bumped off, but, I'm kind of between a rock and a hard place - I don't want to go back to more price worthy Android tablets because they aren't as good for the job, but I'd also not pay the $350-$450 I pay for a Surface at the moment. But, that's still low enough that I don't mind bringing it into rather rugged situations, so I still bite the bullet and go with the Surface, whereas the Pro is just out of the "if it breaks, it breaks" price range.

    I can agree - price is too high for what you get when you can get an almost as functional Android tablet for about half the price. Simply put, Android is still a more media consumption/toy focused operating system, and I need this thing for work, a lot of it academic. I don't have the time or inclination to go messing around with trying to find acceptable apps for most of the stuff I do, carting around a Bluetooth keyboard, etc...


    I agree microsoft has done a great job with its products, that is why I was looking for a surface mini... I hope these are just rumors and that the surface mini is amazing.
  • 0 Hide
    WithoutWeakness , July 1, 2014 9:12 AM
    Quote:
    how bout a Surface Semi-Pro... with a 'Pentium', 'Celeron' or i3, and a stylus and... well, long as it s enough to run Sketchbook Pro and Photoshop...

    Surface Pro 3 will be available with i3, i5, and i7 CPU's later this quarter.
  • 0 Hide
    zubikov , July 1, 2014 9:19 AM
    This is just the result of a new smart CEO coming in and trying to clean up the mess that Ballmer left behind. Nadella is clearly up to speed on tech and is forming a good strategy for MSFT. He also has perspective (something Ballmer lacked completely) and has already shown that he's quick to recognize and clean up the mistakes from the past (Office released on iOS right away). I wouldn't be surprised if the Pro gets a different name and look, Bing is vastly revamped and the Office suite becomes more like Google apps. Let's face it, Ballmer was an idiot who ruled the company with an iron fist and hung around for too long.
  • 0 Hide
    MANOFKRYPTONAK , July 1, 2014 9:50 AM
    Quote:
    This is just the result of a new smart CEO coming in and trying to clean up the mess that Ballmer left behind. Nadella is clearly up to speed on tech and is forming a good strategy for MSFT. He also has perspective (something Ballmer lacked completely) and has already shown that he's quick to recognize and clean up the mistakes from the past (Office released on iOS right away). I wouldn't be surprised if the Pro gets a different name and look, Bing is vastly revamped and the Office suite becomes more like Google apps. Let's face it, Ballmer was an idiot who ruled the company with an iron fist and hung around for too long.


    Time will tell :)  hopefully this will turn out well for microsoft.
  • 0 Hide
    Draven35 , July 1, 2014 7:02 PM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    how bout a Surface Semi-Pro... with a 'Pentium', 'Celeron' or i3, and a stylus and... well, long as it s enough to run Sketchbook Pro and Photoshop...

    Surface Pro 3 will be available with i3, i5, and i7 CPU's later this quarter.


    I meant in the 7" 'fits in a cargo pocket' form factor.
  • 1 Hide
    icemunk , July 2, 2014 9:22 AM
    Since MS is giving Windows 8.1 away for free for form-factors under 8" I can see why they're not bothering with their own 7" version. The Chinese manufacturers will soon be pumping out x86 Windows 8.1 tablets for under $100.