After @evleaks broke the news that Microsoft's Surface Mini was back in production and will be released sometime this summer, Windows watcher Mary Jo Foley threw her two cents into the rumor pool, indicating that we will likely not see the tablet anytime soon. Again, the delay may be due to the "Gemini" touch-friendly versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and possibly even Outlook.
ZDNet's sources report that the Office team is further along in development of the touch-based Office for Android tablets than the Windows version. That means the Android suite may arrive before the end of 2014, followed by the touchy Office apps for Windows during the Threshold rollout in Spring 2015.
As for the Surface Mini, ZDNet's sources claim that Microsoft has not shelved the idea of releasing a 7- to 8-inch tablet running Windows. The company will instead release the tablet in 2015; we're betting it will be part of the "Threshold" rollout that may or may not also include Windows 9.
The Surface Mini was originally slated to launch alongside the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 back in late 2013, but was pushed back to May 2014. However, Microsoft delayed the tablet again and pushed forward with plans to reveal the Surface Pro 3 in May during a special event in New York City. Paul Thurrott reports that the Surface Mini shares many traits with the Surface Pro 3 including "same industrial design, 3:2 screen, and high-end pen."
According to Thurrott, part of Surface Mini's problem was that it uses Windows RT 8.1. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and EVP Stephen Elop felt it wasn't different enough to stand out over the competition. Even more, the tablet violated the company's new policy of not creating Surface devices that compete too directly with Windows partner tablets. So "thousands" are now sitting in Microsoft's warehouse waiting on a possible third launch attempt.
Thurrott believes that Microsoft may wait and dish out the Office "Gemini" apps and Surface Mini next spring so that the company can offer a "better together" campaign.
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At the moment, I want a second tablet for September. The primary function of my second tablet is going to be for having documents up for citations while I'm working on my first tablet - a two monitor setup for on the go, much like I have in my home setup. While I love Windows tablets and the Surface line in general for a variety of reasons, since I'm currently under the impression none of these things will be under $350'ish, I may well opt for just picking up some $100 8 inch Android tablet and make do with it and keep a bit of money in my pocket. Tell us what the heck you are releasing in non-pro tablets already, and when - otherwise, you may well find some of us just moving on. Right now, $450 for a Surface 2 isn't worth it to me, and I want something with more horsepower than my current Surface RT if I'm going to spend $350+. The new kickstand and a digitizer make it worth it - but I don't know if such a product will even exist outside of the Pro model.