A tweet from a respected Windows leaker triggered some excitement that Microsoft may have reversed course and decided to ship its twice-delayed Surface Mini tablet this summer. But my sources are telling me that's not the case and that Surface Mini is still on the backburner.
News of a possible Surface Mini appearance this summer started when Evan Blass, who goes by the handle @evleaks on Twitter, tweeted that "Microsoft Surface Mini is back in production in anticipation of a summer release." This news was widely reported by many enthusiast tech blogs, as you might expect.
Sadly, it's not true.
As I exclusively revealed in May, Microsoft had intended to announce Surface Mini at a late May press event. But the firm delayed the device at the last minute—literally days before the launch—the second time it had done so. Intriguingly, Microsoft had in fact manufactured thousands of the devices, which are now sitting in warehouses awaiting a possible third launch date. (Surface Mini was originally going to ship alongside Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 way back in late 2013.)
Microsoft had a second device to announce in May, so it went ahead with what was originally going to be a secondary announcement with the Surface Pro 3. But Surface Mini would have shared many characteristics with the Pro 3, including the same industrial design, 3:2 screen, and high-end pen. It would have run Windows RT, however, not full Windows 8.1.
And that was apparently part of the problem, and the reason Surface Mini was delayed: Microsoft's senior executive staff felt that the device didn't differentiate enough with the existing Windows mini-tablets, and violated the firm's new policy of not creating Surface devices that compete too directly with partner machines.
Since then, many have speculated that Surface Mini, as an RT device with a smallish screen, would benefit from the introduction of the long-awaited Office Touch for Windows, which will essentially provide the same experience as Office for iPad, but also add Outlook. And while we're speculating, many likewise believe that this new Office version is being held onto until Windows 9 ("Threshold") ships next spring so that Microsoft can offer a "better together" marketing campaign.
As Windows watcher Mary Jo Foley notes, nothing has changed since a few months ago: Surface Mini still isn't differentiated enough from the existing stable of Windows mini-tablets, and of course Office Touch for Windows might even be further away than we had expected just two months ago. I will add that the viability of RT devices remains in question as well.
If you are waiting for a Surface Mini—and certainly such a note-taking device would be interesting to many business users—take heart. The device hasn't been canceled, I've been told, just delayed. And unless something else changes, I do expect to see it appear eventually.