Anonymous sources told The Wall Street Journal that Microsoft is working on a 7-inch tablet to compete with the iPad Mini and Google’s 7-inch Nexus. The new Surface tablet could enter production as early as this year.
The Wall Street Journal’s Lorraine Luk, Shira Ovide and Eva Dou reported, “The software giant is developing a new lineup of its Surface tablets, including a 7-inch version expected to go into mass production later this year, said people familiar with the company’s plans. Microsoft’s tablet ambitions, combined with planned price breaks for its flagship software and updates in coming months to its Windows operating software, paint the picture of a company trying to move more quickly than ever to counter urgent threats to its $75 billion software empire. One person familiar with Microsoft’s product plans said the 7-inch tablets weren’t part of the company’s strategy last year, but Microsoft executives realized they needed a response to the rapidly growing popularity of smaller tablets like Google Inc.’s 7-inch Nexus, which was announced last summer, and the 7.9-inch iPad Mini introduced by Apple Inc. last October.”
The Atlantic Wire’s Rebecca Greenfield noted, “Half of the tablets shipped in the fourth quarter had screens that are smaller than 8 inches, according to research firm IDC. Microsoft doesn’t currently offer that sort of model, so this is the logical thing to do for them. The move broadly makes sense, but only if Microsoft drops the price of what many have called its too expensive tablets.”
PCMag’s Stephanie Mlot observed, “Rumors about a possible 7-inch tablet emerged last month when Microsoft lowered the minimum resolutions for Windows 8 devices from 1,366 by 768 to 1,024 by 768 at a depth of 32 bits.”
GigaOm’s Kevin C. Tofel recalled, “If the report is true — and I suspect it is — this won’t actually be the first time we’ll see 7-inch slates running Microsoft Windows. I know because I still have a few old UMPCs, or ultra mobile portable computers, from a half-dozen years ago. Microsoft didn’t make the devices, but worked with hardware vendors to improve touch support for the operating system.”