Microsoft's Surface mini "back in production"

Microsoft's Surface Pro 3 has managed to impress quite a few people since its début at the end of May - indeed, we were rather impressed with the 12-inch device too when we reviewed it. But the other Surface that was expected to appear alongside it remains unseen, although that may soon change. 

Microsoft originally sent out invitations to the media in early May, asking us to join them for a "small gathering", which fuelled speculation that the company was planning to launch its long-awaited Surface mini tablet. After that device failed to make an appearance as expected, Neowin learned that the launch was cancelled at the eleventh hour, when it was decided that the mini was not sufficiently 'distinctive' from its rivals. 

Our sources also revealed that as many as 20,000 Surface minis had already been produced by the time its launch was suspended. But today, leaker extraordinaire @evleaks revealed that Microsoft has resumed production of the device, and that it plans to finally release it this summer. 

This is particularly significant not only for the predicted launch of the tablet, but also for what that launch may herald.

We understand that one reason behind the decision to delay the mini's announcement was the continuing absence of a touch-friendly version of the company's Office suite. Existing versions of Office - even with their 'touch mode' concessions for finger inputs - are not well suited to displays as small as 8-inches.

Microsoft wants the Surface mini to be useful for productivity as well as media consumption - and it will feature the same Surface Pen as its Pro 3 bigger brother for notetaking - making the upcoming touch-focused Office 'Gemini' release all the more important for the smaller tablet. If, as @evleaks predicts, the company is planning to launch the Surface mini this summer, this may suggest that Gemini could be released at or around the same time. 

Microsoft accidentally confirmed the existence of the Surface mini last month, after it overlooked references to the device in the User Guide for its newly released Surface Pro 3. 

Source: evleaks.at | lower image via FutureZone

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31 Comments

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If the Mini comes out with RT, it will do OK but if it came out with Atom, it would sell to all those who would have bought a RT one AND those who want full Windows.

There is simply no marketing reason to sell RT, none. There are people who don't want or need the desktop and that is fine, with full Windows on a device like the Dell Venue 8 Pro, you don't have to use the desktop or ever install a desktop app. But why shoot yourself in the foot by trying to push the loser RT OS? Note: This comes from a Surface RT user and I am happy with my SRT but if I could change anything I dislike on the device, it would be RT.

Rann Xeroxx said,
If the Mini comes out with RT, it will do OK but if it came out with Atom, it would sell to all those who would have bought a RT one AND those who want full Windows.

There is simply no marketing reason to sell RT, none. There are people who don't want or need the desktop and that is fine, with full Windows on a device like the Dell Venue 8 Pro, you don't have to use the desktop or ever install a desktop app. But why shoot yourself in the foot by trying to push the loser RT OS? Note: This comes from a Surface RT user and I am happy with my SRT but if I could change anything I dislike on the device, it would be RT.

Strongly disagree!

No reason? None?

How about RT simply cant get infected with the millions of browser search hacks, viruses, fake AV, spyware etc not to mention the trickware (ask toolbar for example).
The people that are flocking to android tablets and iPads don't seem to care that they don't run Sage or photoshop, but they do love the almost invincibility that have online when compaired to a std windows machine.

Yes yes yes its the users at fault, But they don't care! They are dumb users and are in the majority, they want a device that they can use and not worry about updating this or that via many different popups and dialogue boxes, they want to go to a store to install apps and not google for a website then run an installer that they may need to untick boxes on so that their search isn't screwed up or another toolbar is installed.

Devices like this for the consumer should be simple, work well and be reliable and RT (or the merged version when its out) is perfect for this.

The dell VP is there for those that want a tiny screen and run sage etc.

BTW I am not slating windows here, I am an IT consultant/support and use windows 8 on all my machines, but I do know that the majority of home users I know do not need the x86 compatibility and even if there was one or two apps that they'd like the convenience of being immune to the crap out there far outweighs the negative.

I am using company laptop for now, so there's small reason to BYOD at my own expense to get SP3. However, with Surface mini, I can easily afford it especially with a digitizer.

I'll have one right away, perfect device for note taking and general light use.

I'd want a long battery ARM based device with touch based office and pen for onenote. Don't care about x86 on a device like this. So long as I can use Remote desktop and teamviewer touch along with web browsing and office (and not forgetting apps/games) I will be a happy camper

I want to be able to upgrade to the merged RT/WP when it happens as well.

duddit2 said,
... Don't care about x86 on a device like this.....

Is there an ARM SoC that supports nTrig?

I have a feeling that this one will be x86, simply because it supports pen (nTrig).

deadonthefloor said,

Is there an ARM SoC that supports nTrig?

I have a feeling that this one will be x86, simply because it supports pen (nTrig).

What makes you think one has anything to do with the other?

Not sure but I cant see it being too hard to do on a custom device such as this, adding the NTrig components to the system shouldn't be too hard (I maybe well wrong here its just my guess).

If they drop the traditional colors in favor of blue & white, then yes! :-D

And the "Pro" version could be the Papa Smurface, in blue & red to distinguish it from the regular version.

I enjoy using my surface RT but looking for something I can note take with in meetings, I find it gets in the way in interviews and briefings. Mini will be great for me as long as I can use it with a stylus and it has some sort of lightweight, touch-enabled office with it. Else I don't see the value above my smart-phone and a notebook and pen.

It would make sense to hold off till the touch first version of Office was ready. They said it was delayed because it didn't stand out from all the other mini tablets out there. Being the first to market with this new version of Office would be one way to do it, maybe shipping with Windows 8.1 Update 2 could be another? The rest would be down to hardware as always.

Not unless they add a decent Modern file management app, or make the OneDrive more useful for that. File management is one of the few reasons I still use the desktop, even on my SurfRT.

I don't understand why so many users are eager to remove functionality from Windows RT. The desktop, even on a Windows RT device, has so many more functions than just Office. It still has Powershell, Filee Explorer, remote desktop, and a number of other very powerful utilities.

Plus, any Metro versions of desktop apps (such as Skype, or the biggest one, OneNote) are absolutely terrible still. They rip out some of the best and most unique features and leave users with a completely gimped version. Why does anyone have faith that Office Metro is going to be any different?

Hell, even for just Office alone, it's really useful to be able to have many documents or sources up on a page while writing a report, or making a Powerpoint... and yet people are begging Microsoft to remove this.

I've been saying for a long time that is absolutely the wrong way to go - just make a toggle in PC Settings to prevent access to the desktop unless explicitly enabled, and it remains a more powerful device but yet prevents people who won't use the desktop from ever seeing it.

OneNote is pathetic on Metro version. Desktop version blows it away, if I had to be forced to use the Metro version right now, I would stop using OneNote. The desktop version of OneNote is BETTER at touch than the Metro version.

jimmyfal said,
......

But the upcoming Modern versions of Office are much better than their desktop counterparts, in part because they're rendered on a DX canvas, not GDI+.

deadonthefloor said,

But the upcoming Modern versions of Office are much better than their desktop counterparts, in part because they're rendered on a DX canvas, not GDI+.

But will they have all the features, or will the be "app-ified" and only capable of the top 10% of features that people use.

deadonthefloor said,

But the upcoming Modern versions of Office are much better than their desktop counterparts, in part because they're rendered on a DX canvas, not GDI+.

I don't think Office has ever used GDI+ (very little does), but I'm guessing you meant GDI.

Thing is, Office 2013 on Win8 already renders the content to a DX surface (technically a DComp surface, just like IE and modern apps). That's what enables it to do all the slick glitch-free animations it does (as they're done off the UI thread, via DComp). It also (along with DManip) provides the smooth pan and pinch-zoom interactions you see in 2013.

That's part of what makes me so confused about what's taking Gemini so long.

DConnell said,
Not unless they add a decent Modern file management app, or make the OneDrive more useful for that. File management is one of the few reasons I still use the desktop, even on my SurfRT.

Agree 100%, File Explorer is simply the very best and most powerful app in its class blowing away anything on MacOS and any other OS. All the Metro versions of File Explorer, for lack of a better term, suck.

Brandon Live said,

I don't think Office has ever used GDI+ (very little does), but I'm guessing you meant GDI.

Thing is, Office 2013 on Win8 already renders the content to a DX surface (technically a DComp surface, just like IE and modern apps). That's what enables it to do all the slick glitch-free animations it does (as they're done off the UI thread, via DComp). It also (along with DManip) provides the smooth pan and pinch-zoom interactions you see in 2013.

That's part of what makes me so confused about what's taking Gemini so long.

We'll have to see what they bring, my hope is 'best on Windows' stand out features. Designing for touch they already have practice with iOS & Android. So was office waiting on mini?

Brandon Live said,

I don't think Office has ever used GDI+


Not true, I think it uses it to display images in documents for example.

To be frank, what I really would want, is a Lumia 1530 with the One note Surface Stylus functionality for quick note taking on the go. I wouldn't need an 8" note taking device and could use a Surface Pro when I finally had a chance to sit down and work on the note consolidation. OR... for those that would want it, add the phone capability to the Surface 8" Note when the two OSes(WP and WinRT) merge supposedly in Windows 9.