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Rumor: Microsoft Working on Surface Mini Tablet

Paul Thurrott's SuperSite for Windows has put together a list of Windows 8.1 and Windows RT 8.1 tablets that are slated to arrive sometime during this half of 2013. Several of these have already been verified like the cool Transformer Book Trio from Asus, but the list also reveals that Microsoft is working on three next-generation tablets, one of which is a "mini" that appears to compete directly with Google, Amazon and Apple.

Thurrott admits that he has little information to go on regarding the Surface "mini" tablet, but the device will reportedly arrive a bit later than the Surface Pro 2 and Surface RT 2 tablets. The device will reportedly sport an 8 inch screen and a Qualcomm processor, meaning Microsoft will ultimately release two branded Windows RT 8.1 tablets and one Windows 8.1 model.

As for the Surface RT 2 tablet, this 10.6 inch device will supposedly be based on Nvidia's Tegra 4 chip (he says "next-gen" Tegra) and sport a Full HD ClearType screen. The tablet will also have a new white color, VaporMg casing, front and rear-facing cameras, an integrated two-position kickstand, Bluetooth 4.0, presumably Wireless AC connectivity, a full-sized USB 3.0 port, a microSD card slot for up to 64 GB of expanded storage, HDMI output and the included Office Home & Student 2013 RT suite.

He also noted that Microsoft has removed the "RT" branding. This is likely to shake off all the negativity surrounding this ARM-based build of Windows 8 that's built up since the platform's debut last year (the $900M write off didn't help either). Microsoft blamed customer confusion for the lack of sales, but removing the RT label could cause even more chaos for customers who don't know the difference between an ARM-based chip and an x86-based chip. With the "RT" label, there's at least some hope that consumers understand that their desktop programs won't install and execute on ARM-based architecture.

As for the Surface Pro 2, the tablet will obviously be a bit meatier, cramming a fourth-generation Intel Core i5 processor behind a 10.6 inch ClearType Full HD screen. This model will supposedly have front and rear-facing cameras (720p LifeCam was mentioned), a digital Pro Pen, Bluetooth 4.0, Wireless AC connectivity, various RAM options and the same ports found on the RT tablet. This model will supposedly measure 0.53 inches thick, whereas the RT model will be around 0.37 inches thin. The Power Cover featuring a keyboard and external battery will supposedly launch sometime after the two tablets.

Naturally, everything seen here regarding the Microsoft-branded tablets is unofficial chatter. The Redmond company actually won't come clean with its next-generation Surface plans until September 23. That makes sense given Windows 8.1 and Windows RT 8.1 won't officially launch until October 18, a date Microsoft will likely make for its 10 inch Surface 2 tablets as well.