Microsoft has a more compact version of its Surface tablet, a 7 inch slate, in the pipeline according to the latest speculation.
There had been talk previously that the next Surface RT – that’s the consumer targeted tablet which runs Windows RT on ARM – would be trimmed down to an 8.9 inch model, but it appears Microsoft will go further and bring it right down to the 7 inch mark.
These are the smallest tablets on the market, and the likes of Google’s Nexus 7, and Amazon’s Kindle Fire, have been pretty successful – a fact that obviously hasn’t gone unnoticed at Redmond.
According to the Wall Street Journal, which is the source of this rumour, Microsoft wasn’t thinking of going anywhere near the 7 inch territory last year, but has changed its mind in 2013.
Indeed, the Surface 7 inch should be in mass production later this year, according to the WSJ, so Microsoft isn’t going to hang around.
That’s hardly surprising, as it can ill afford to be left behind in the mobile smartphone/tablet arena. The trouble is Microsoft is looking more and more like a desperate company…
Well, perhaps desperate is the wrong word. Yes, Redmond is still a veritable software giant, but Windows 8 hasn’t gone down well – and the Surface tablet hasn’t done any better.
But what’s more worrying is that increasingly, Microsoft seems to be reacting to the market rather than leading it, or attempting to lead it at least.
With the slump in PC sales, and tablet boom, the answer was the Surface – and now that appears to be flat-lining, or close to it, while the Nexus 7 does well. So it appears to be a case of U-turns and bandwagon jumping again. “Ooh, we better do one of those… it’s still doing well for Google.”
Windows Phone might be finally picking up some market share, but it’s still not enough – and overtaking BlackBerry to become the number three smartphone OS isn’t much of an achievement given BB’s steep decline over the past year.
So, yes, a 7 inch Surface – we can well believe it. But will it change things in the big picture?
We actually rather like the idea of the Surface – perhaps the most daunting element is the price, so at least a smaller, hopefully budget version might just help on that front. As long as Microsoft prices it cheaply enough.
Even so, there’s a lot more work that needs to be done than chopping a bit of screen space off a tablet.