Feeds

Surface Mini on shelves NEXT YEAR – and it will run Windows RT

Pint-sized ARM slab to launch with next Windows release – report

High performance access to file storage

Microsoft isn't done with its second round of Surface tablets, but a Mini version with an eight-inch or smaller screen and running Windows RT probably won't arrive until next year, according to the latest rumors.

Longtime Redmond-watcher Mary Jo Foley's sources say Microsoft is readying a pint-sized portable to round out its hardware line, but it's not slated to ship until early 2014, to coincide with a post-8.1 Windows update dubbed the "Spring 2014 GDR."

Presumably, "GDR" here stands for "General Distribution Release," a term Microsoft has been using for its regular updates to Windows Phone 8. It might get an actual version number before it ships; Windows 8.1 was known as "Windows Blue" during its development, for example.

What Foley's snitches claim, however, is that this tinier tablet will have an ARM processor, which means the OS it ships with will not be Windows 8, but Windows RT.

That would be a risky move. We've seen how poorly the original Surface RT sold, and whether Microsoft will be able to shift many of its recently announced second attempt remains to be seen, as they don't go on sale until October 23.

Meanwhile, other manufacturers have been shying away from Windows RT. Most recently, Dell quietly withdrew its RT tablets from its US web store, leaving Microsoft as seemingly the only manufacturer willing to invest in the stripped-down ARM OS.

For Microsoft to ship smaller tablets only with Windows RT would also suggest a surprising lack of faith in Windows 8 Pro on small screens.

The first batch of Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets all shipped with ten-inch displays or larger, but Redmond reluctantly added support for smaller screens once it became apparent that more compact devices, such as the iPad mini, were a hit with consumers.

So far, however, the only eight-inch Windows 8 tablet to reach the market has been the Acer Iconia W3, which didn't impress The Reg with its meager hardware. If Microsoft released its own smaller slab running Windows 8 Pro, it could show the other manufacturers how it's done.

But Foley's sources say Microsoft likes ARM chips for tablets because they offer both lower price points and longer battery life than Intel's offerings. Those are both fair points, yet they would only seem to be valid if customers were willing to buy Windows RT devices at any price, something that's not yet in evidence.

Naturally, there were no hard dates attached to the Surface Mini murmurings, but if we assume that the associated Windows update will arrive six months after Windows 8.1 ships to customers on October 18, then sometime in April sounds like a fair estimate. ®

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

More from The Register

next story
Leaked pics show EMBIGGENED iPhone 6 screen
Fat-fingered fanbois rejoice over Chinternet snaps
Reg man builds smart home rig, gains SUPREME CONTROL of DOMAIN – Pics
LightwaveRF and Arduino: Bright ideas for dim DIYers
WTF happened to Pac-Man?
In his thirties and still afraid of ghosts
Rounded corners? Pah! Amazon's '3D phone has eye-tracking tech'
Now THAT'S what we call a proper new feature
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
US mobile firms cave on kill switch, agree to install anti-theft code
Slow and kludgy rollout will protect corporate profits
Happy 25th birthday, Game Boy!
Monochrome handset ushered in modern mobile gaming era
Leaked photos may indicate slimmer next-generation iPad
Will iPad Air evolve into iPad Helium?
True optical zoom coming to HTC smartphone cameras
Time to ditch that heavy DSLR? Maybe in a year, year and a half
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.