There was a great deal of excitement at yesterday’s Surface event, but there was no sign of the Surface Mini that so many people had been hoping and praying for. There had been so many rumors and leaks ahead of the event that the unveiling of a Mini was taken as a given. This only served to make the device’s non-appearance all the more disappointing; but all may not be lost.
Did the Surface Mini not appear because Microsoft has fallen out of love with Windows RT? Did the timing not feel right? Maybe the company did not want to detract from the launch of Surface Pro 3 and wanted to avoid overwhelming consumers with two devices at the same time. It’s not possible that so many sources could have been wrong about the device, is it? All of the usual leak sources have been informing us of the imminent launch of the Surface Mini. Industry insiders have been feeding information to journalists for weeks and month. Could they all have been wrong?
There have been suggestions made that Microsoft simply changed its mind, that the Surface Mini was simply canceled at the last minute — maybe even as late as the weekend before the NYC event. While it is tempting to think that this is possible, it would seem unlikely. But the Surface Mini is real. Very real. According to a report from Neowin 15-20,000 units have already been produced, and it was only a last minute “management directive” that stopped the launch in its tracks. Lack of faith in Windows RT and a failure to stand out from the competition have been cited as possible reasons.
The report agrees with Mary Jo Foley’s suggestion that the launch has been postponed until the touch-optimized Office Gemini is ready. This does make sense, as Office on a smaller tablet will act as a big draw. The current version of office 365 would be usable on a smaller screen, but it would not be ideal — far better to have a version that is specifically designed for a device of smaller dimensions. Remember the Surface Mini will be all about touch; there may be keyboards available at some point, but touch and pen input is going to be where it is at.
It is possible that Gemini will be ready in the fall, so there is a chance that this is when Surface Mini will also make an appearance… but sadly we are back into the realms of speculation once again. But one thing is clear. Microsoft does not want to launch a lame duck. Surface Mini will not see the light of day until it is completely ready, hardware, software and associated infrastructure. This is the new face of Microsoft, remember.
In the meantime, there is the Dell Venue 8 to fill the void, but it is the Surface Mini that remains the most desirable device.