This isn't the first time we're hearing that Microsoft is working on a new Surface version, but it appears that the company has finally completed development and is now getting ready to publicly launch the device.The so-called Surface Mini, a smaller version of the Surface tablet, could be revealed on May 18, according to some photos published on Amazon.com by Vostrostone (VSTN), an electronics wholesaler.
While one of the pictures included in the product listing is actually showing a Lenovo tablet that's already on sale, another photo reportedly reveals a case designed for the Surface Mini which also protects the keyboard.
Not much is known about the Surface Mini at this point, but it's believed that Microsoft is pondering an 8-inch display and a digitizing pen that would more or less make the tablet a note-taking device.
The Surface Mini would obviously come with Windows RT 8.1 Update, the latest version of Microsoft's operating system aimed at ARM devices as according to some rumors, the upcoming tablet is very likely to rely on an ARM processor.
The software giant has until now refused to comment on reports pointing to a so-called Surface Mini, but such a tablet would actually make sense in Microsoft's lineup. Former CEO Steve Ballmer has said with several occasions that his company is planning to expand its hardware product range, so the addition of a Surface Mini that would be specifically aimed to compete with the Nexus 7 and iPad mini wouldn't be surprising at all.
Additionally, Microsoft has already made the necessary steps to tweak the modern Windows in order to support low-spec hardware as well, so it now works on devices with only 1GB of RAM.
This change was specifically made to bring more affordable devices to the market and allow OEMs to design products that would be capable of competing with Android and iOS tablets even when it comes to pricing. Of course, all Surface tablets will also come with a free copy of Office 2013 RT, so this would be another significant advantage for the Surface Mini.
As far as pricing is concerned, some people close to Microsoft's hardware plans suggested that the company is specifically focusing on the final price tag of the device and make it very affordable.
For example, one source pointed to a $250 (€180) price tag that would obviously position the Surface Mini as the entry-level version of the Surface range and allow it to compete with the aforementioned rivals.