Microsoft was scheduled to announce a small tablet three years ago alongside the Surface Pro 3, inviting reporters for a “small gathering”. Instead, the firm announced a much larger Surface Pro 3, making no mention of the rumoured and alluded to Surface Mini. It had just been killed.
Thanks to Windows Central however, we’ve just gotten a look at the specs and design of the cancelled Surface allowing us to see what the device Microsoft originally planned. Much like typical Surface slates are, it was a squarish device with a pen and a kickstand. Unlike typical Surface devices, it was covered in a “felt like” casing, which made it feel soft to hold unlike the generally solid and cold modern Surface Pros and Laptops.
Inside, it was to be powered by Windows RT 8.1 and would have come with a Full HD display, 1 GB of RAM paired with a Snapdragon 800 (somewhat sufficient for running Windows 8 for ARM devices/Windows RT), and a Surface pen for opening notes and quickly jotting down thoughts.
Microsoft decided that it just didn’t bring enough to the market to meaningfully differentiate – this doesn’t mean that Microsoft would shy from making me too products if it saw demand – it was that Windows RT devices had failed over and over, as well as small Windows tablets. From the leaked specs and the looks of the hardware, there was no indication that the Surface Mini would have done anything to move the needle, so Microsoft dropped that and went to the next best thing.
The Surface Mini marks the point where Microsoft chose to stop being a “tablet” manufacturer and focus near exclusively on making devices which were merely traditonal PCs in different form-factors, it worked and surface rode its way to incredible financial and critical success for the firm. The pure tablet market for Windows, however, dried up and only exists in cheap, underpowered chinese devices. One might wonder what would have happened if Microsoft had managed to successfully push a small Windows tablet to compete with the iPad Mini. Alas, all we have left are fleeting images of what could have been.