Nikhil SubramaniamMay 23, 2014 09:30:17 IST
Microsoft was widely expected to add a small and a large form factor model to its Surface series at the event yesterday. However, surprising all, only the 12-inch Surface Pro 3 was unveiled, while the much-rumoured and frankly, more exciting, Surface mini was left on the cutting floor. So why didn’t Microsoft deliver both?
There was no official reason given by the company, though ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley says the mini is delayed because of software. According to the Foley’s report, Windows 9 or Threshold is the reason behind Microsoft not making the smaller tablet official. "It was no secret that Microsoft Operating System Group chief , the Terry Myerson is/was no fan of Windows RT operating system that currently powers the Surface RT and Surface 2 devices. And it's also widely believed that Myerson's team is in the midst of revamping the version of Windows that runs on ARM so that the same version of Windows will be able to run on ARM-based Windows Phones and smaller ARM-based Windows tablets."
So Microsoft didn't want to hamstring a Surface mini with crippling Windows RT issues. At this point, Windows RT looks to be dead weight and Microsoft is right in trying to shed as much of it as possible, turning back with a leaner OS that runs on phones and tablets without any functionality drawbacks.
Another reason could be that Windows on a smaller tablet has not really won many fans. Sure, there are options such as the Acer W4, Dell Venue 8 and Lenovo Miix range, but Windows is still considered for PCs primarily, devices such as 2-in-1s and hybrids or traditional notebooks, which even Intel is helping market.
Bloomberg, which first reported the Surface mini announcement, says based on sources that CEO Satya Nadella and Executive VP and devices chief Stephen Elop decided to postpone the Surface mini announcement because "the product in development wasn’t different enough from rivals and probably wouldn’t be a hit."
Microsoft has made Windows free for devices with displays under 9 inches, so clearly there's a focus on the smaller segment. But the tablet market overall has been unkind on smaller tablets, especially as phablets or large-screen smartphones are being pushed by most manufacturers.
So Microsoft is wise to wait. In the meanwhile, the company will work on unifying Windows for all devices. The Surface Pro 3, which did get a price and official status, is nevertheless a handsome looking tablet with powerful internals, which will no doubt cause a ripple or two in the tablet market.
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