Report: Microsoft killed Surface Mini last minute because it 'wouldn't be a hit'

Microsoft held an event in New York City today to announce a new Surface tablet, the Surface Pro 3. The new device is the biggest update to the Surface Pro since it was announced and includes a new design, internals and screen. What Microsoft didn't announce, however, was a Surface Mini. Neowin's Brad Sams was one of the first to report the existence of a smaller Surface tablet, which then didn't arrive at today's event. 

According to a report by Bloomberg, the Surface Mini did exist, but it was mothballed because of a lack of differentiation between it and other small tablets, such as Apple's iPad mini. A source speaking to Bloomberg claimed it "wasn't different enough" and "wouldn't be a hit." The decision to kill the tablet reportedly came from CEO Satya Nadella and devices head Stephen Elop.

The cancelation reportedly caused a lot of back tracking, forcing them to remove all references of a Qualcomm-powered tablet from the event and launch the Surface Pro 3 in its place. Microsoft's decision to kill the tablet also comes in the wake of apparently teasing it, as the company promoted the event from the outset as a "small gathering," hinting at a smaller Surface tablet.

Smaller tablets already exist and are a prominent force in the tablet space, with Apple selling the iPad mini, Google having the Nexus 7 and various other manufactures producing smaller Windows tablets.

Source: Bloomberg

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Hello,

Given that the size of the purported Surface Mini was around 8", and that the most popular ebook readers these days are in the 7-8" range, I have to finder if the Surface Mini is going to be targeted for a holiday season deployment, in an attempt to drive some nails into the e-readers' coffins.

Regards,

Aryeh Goretsky

I don't buy it. I believe they cancelled it because they realized an RT device going up against 8.1 Pro x86 devices costing $350 was a disastrous idea.

My guess is that it was cancelled due to a more capable durable Lumia tablet in the pipeline.


Also, Windows on Arm (RT) doesn't support digitizers at the moment, so those commenting about how great that would be will have to wait until Windows 9.

Reasons why:

-Intel did not want the two devices to be promoted at the same time
- Waiting for school season
- slowing of ipad mini sales

Maybe... just maybe... Dell is making a Dell Venue 8 2 that will improve a bit on design and build, negating a need for a Surface Mini. What MS introduced today is outrightly unique in terms of form factor and target audience, whereas a Surface Mini would not be.

They never announced it... so it's not fair to say they 'killed it off'. It's obviously simply pushed to be a better time frame... probably around the time Windows 8.1 Update 2 gets released around school season.

"Smaller tablets already exist and are a prominent force in the tablet space, with Apple selling the iPad mini, Google having the Nexus 7 and various other manufactures producing smaller Windows tablets."

By this logic, then Microsoft should not have done any of the Surface tablets or Windows Phone. I don't think it is really about the Apple or Android devices. I think the key is the other smaller Windows tablets. I had thought Microsoft had said they would not produce devices that are the same as what their partners are making.

They had something 'different' enough.. it was called Courier.. Really disappointed as I was looking forward to a surface mini. Oh well, always next year I suppose.

Canceled or not, you like Windows RT or NOT, the main point is that the 8inch ARM based category market is growing with the speed of light right now with a huge potential and opportunity there and Microsoft and its partners, meaning other major OEMS, have nothing to offer in that area right now.

A Mini RT would have been dumb and wouldn't sell well, but a Mini Pro would have been amazing. Maybe they're just not at that point yet.

Good move by Microsoft. They need to gage how well their new tablets sell first. Why release another size Surface when in 6 months you have to do a write-down because no one is buying them except for the die-hard fans?

Without the proper software, that is a killer note taking app à-la "Courier", the Surface mini is doomed to be a late me-too device.

Although I am deeply disappointed, I would understand the decision. Meanwhile, it leaves Surface in a delicate position, one where they have no really affordable offering.

More disturbing is the fact that Microsoft, one of the biggest and more prolific software company, is unable to provide differentiating software to an upcoming product.

Did you not just see the awesome new OneNote pen functionality used in today's presentation? And how well it works like a real pen? And how awesome it worked in the various apps and even Photoshop? The functionality is there and it will definitely most likely be there in the Mini version when it's ready to be released, making it like a true notepad.

TheCyberKnight said,

Although I am deeply disappointed, I would understand the decision. Meanwhile, it leaves Surface in a delicate position, one where they have no really affordable offering.

Considering what this thing does, how is a $799 tablet of this capability not affordable?

Don't get me wrong, it's a fantastic device for $800, far better than the MacBook Air.

Meanwhile, at the same time, that's exactly my point: $800 is far too expensive for non-professional users. You get an iPad when you're about to shell this amount of cash on a tablet.

J2600,
OneNote is fine. Just fine.
It lacks the wow factor as an app. Look at Paper on the iPad (from the former Courier team members). This is fantastic. I really hoped Microsoft would wow the crowd with a similar app.

TheCyberKnight said,
Don't get me wrong, it's a fantastic device for $800, far better than the MacBook Air.

Meanwhile, at the same time, that's exactly my point: $800 is far too expensive for non-professional users. You get an iPad when you're about to shell this amount of cash on a tablet.

I'm not sure I understand. You say you get an iPad when you're about to shell out that much money. Do you mean you get a cheaper one? Because there are iPads in that price range and a Core i3 Surface Pro 3 would wipe the floor with them.

And need I remind everyone again - the reason most "apps" exist is because the web experience on an iPad is poor to say the least. Surface, however, runs a full browser missing only Java. Web sites look and work exactly as their full featured desktop counterparts -- because they are exactly the same.

Yes, there are exceptions, and yes there are still MOAR APPS :). But that advantage (excuse) is shrinking by the day.

.Neo said,
Is this Neowin's idea of damage control after so many false rumours?

Logical fallacy. There's no false rumor because every statement, when presented as rumor, is never presented as fact, so it cant be 'true' or 'false'. Just correct or incorrect.

Who is really buying this 8 inch tablets? Obviously I know people are... but if I have a 5 inch smartphone, why would I want an 8 inch tablet (just to say I have an iPad too?)? Obviously Windows RT (ARM) offers a lot over any smartphone -- full desktop, office, etc... but on 8 inches, that wouldn't be ideal for work. It certainly is doable, but far from comfortable.

With many people buying 5 inch smartphones and even 6 inch, I don't really see a need for the mini tablets.

Mini tablets are great for children, but once they hit teens and some even earlier are getting smart phones these days.

Obviously from this thread a lot want a mini tablet, but I personally have no interest in a mini tablet since I already have a 4.3 inch smart phone and plan on getting a 5 or maybe 6 inch smart phone soon.

There's a huge size difference between an 8" tablet and a 5" phone. Even at 5" reading a book on a phone feels like reading those tiny novelty books. Same goes for taking notes, one is like a steno pad, the other like a pocket notepad.

To each their own, but I do not see the value in that. I used my Surface Pro to complete my Master's degree and it was great. An 8 iPad mini size device would not have been as good.

I could see reading a book, but if that is really my use case, I am buying a Kindle, it is a heck of a lot cheaper, easier on the eyes and much better battery life.

True. When I got a tablet for my Mom, I specifically chose a 7" tablet because it was light and the screen was roughly the size of a page on a paperback book. She might have an even easier time reading on my SurfRT, but she wouldn't be able to hold it comfortably to read for very long. The Nexus 7 was the best balance between comfortable screen size and light weight.

A smaller Surface would work well for that type of use case.

ryuh3d said,
Who is really buying this 8 inch tablets? Obviously I know people are... but if I have a 5 inch smartphone, why would I want an 8 inch tablet (just to say I have an iPad too?)? Obviously Windows RT (ARM) offers a lot over any smartphone -- full desktop, office, etc... but on 8 inches, that wouldn't be ideal for work. It certainly is doable, but far from comfortable.

With many people buying 5 inch smartphones and even 6 inch, I don't really see a need for the mini tablets.

Mini tablets are great for children, but once they hit teens and some even earlier are getting smart phones these days.

Obviously from this thread a lot want a mini tablet, but I personally have no interest in a mini tablet since I already have a 4.3 inch smart phone and plan on getting a 5 or maybe 6 inch smart phone soon.


Well, a 8" Tablet would B a perfect replacement for my Filofax agenda. As for smartphones I would not mind a 5" Lumia, with the 1520 specs, but a 6" one.... is a no go.

I don't think there actually is a single 8" Windows tablet with hi-res screen and pen input. Dell came close but that pen is horrendous even after the fixes and the screen reinforces the fact that it's marketed as a cheap tablet first and foremost.

It all depends on what would have been included. If it was just a tablet, with no type cover and kickstand, then yes I can see that being a problem. Would it run RT or Full Windows 8 etc. I think Microsoft has the build quality down, but tablets are a tough market right now especially in the mini tablet department. They at least are looking at the big picture, people buy tablets and use them very seldom. Windows 8 in its current form really doesn't suit this market

I think what Microsoft needs to do, and yes it will be late, is kill or at least merge RT with WP. That way the Lumia line could then encompass mini tablets. WP is much better suited for a mini tablet

Lumia Surface RT? That could work.

I don't think RT should be killed. Merged with Phone, yes, but it's very useful, even without the ability to run X86/64 apps. Heck, if I had the money to spare, I'd buy a couple of my friends SurfRTs. The "limitations" would keep them out of trouble.

Or they simply are delaying the release to a time when it'll sell better. If you knew anything about sales/marketing you'd know that end of school year is not the right time to release a product geared towards students.

Who says sml devices are geared toward students. Normally things that are geared toward students comes with a good discount as well too. There are many people that we use the small devices besides students just like any other platform

j2006 said,
Or they simply are delaying the release to a time when it'll sell better. If you knew anything about sales/marketing you'd know that end of school year is not the right time to release a product geared towards students.

Actually it would be good timing for announcing it. At least in California schools start at the beginning/ mid August. Said that my daughter said, and I totally agree with her, that she would like a Surface Pro so now she will get one of these ones. Much better suited for school than a Mini one.

techbeck said,
Either the info in the OP is wrong, or MS is just out of touch.

The Surface Pro 3 has a touch screen display. I don't know what you mean by out of touch. Microsoft has been a strong proponent of touch.

I think they, if this is even true, held off till they could release a mini with the next version of Windows and all the improvements that will bring. The rumors of a mini-tablet specific version of Windows that is a merging of WP and Windows RT is the perfect type of OS for a mini IMO, specially if they can have it run WP apps, even snapped.

Right now though, there's lots of good options in the 8" space, people really like the Dell and the Lenovo devices from what I keep hearing. We'll see what they do, but I still expect a Surface Mini to come.

I hope they reconsider, or find a way to make it "different enough". A greater selection can only help sales IMO. More options mean more potential use cases and customers.

...promoted the event from the outset as a "small gathering," hinting at a smaller Surface tablet.

Or you know, it might've just been because it WAS a relatively small gathering ;)

Not saying the Surface Mini wasn't planned, but I think people read FAR too much into the phrase "small gathering".

TCLN Ryster said,

Or you know, it might've just been because it WAS a relatively small gathering ;)

Not saying the Surface Mini wasn't planned, but I think people read FAR too much into the phrase "small gathering".


I highly, highly, highly, highly, highly, highly, highly, highhhhhhhhhhhhhly doubt that.

Nincompoops. I would have brought 8" surface if it was as awesome body as pro3 but small and cheap.

honestly 8" is the hottest market for tablets! Perfect size to release for MS and to add a decent alternative to iPad mini.

panacea said,
Nincompoops. I would have brought 8" surface if it was as awesome body as pro3 but small and cheap.

honestly 8" is the hottest market for tablets! Perfect size to release for MS and to add a decent alternative to iPad mini.

Wrong.. Ipad mini sales have slowed and the 10 inch ipad is now outselling the ipad mini again.. therefor it is not the "hottest tablet market"

Personally, I think they're wrong.

I think an RT device with a pen with a smaller form factor would have been great. But I also hear it didn't have a kick-stand.

Seriously, I was hoping for a mini with a kick-stand (working in both portrait and landscape), a pen, and a decent aspect ratio... along with a Surface 3 with the new kickstand hinge, new keyboard stability stuff, AND A PEN AS WELL.

That would have given us an entire, complete family of Surface devices, all geared towards note-taking, pen-input, etc.

Maybe someday.

Umm... timing is always important. They are better to sell it during a season when people will actually be likely to buy it. Since past rumours said it's geared towards students it would make sense to release it at back to school time, NOT when people are just finishing school. that would just be silly.

I hope you're right. I'd love to see a Surface 3 and Surface mini (both with pen support) announced later this summer, ready to ship with "Back to School" season.

Studio384 said,
Are you guys sure it's "killed" and not "moved to a later date"?

or they realized from market research that 7 inch tablets will be killed by the 6 inch phones.. Maybe the deal with Nokia going through, they decided to release it as a nokia brand device or just put the technology into a large Surface phone

Its not killed, they may still release a product at a later date, but one that can differ from the current competition. I think maybe around the same time as wp and rt are merged would be a better time for a device like that.