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.