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Microsoft Surface chief says tablets with ‘multiple aspect ratios and sizes’ on the way

Microsoft gave its biggest hint yet that it’s planning to release Surface tablets in other sizes, when Panos Panay, a senior figure in the Surface team, said the company is working on “multiple aspect ratios and sizes”.

Panay was speaking at a special Surface-related event at Microsoft’s Seattle store this week. Despite plenty of rumors floating around, the computer giant has remained tight-lipped about the possibility of a larger or smaller alternative to its current Surface.

However, when asked at the event whether the company was working on a smaller Surface, Panay couldn’t resist offering up a little something to keep the rumor stew bubbling away.

“We have a lot of great things that we are thinking about and working on, and there are multiple aspect ratios and sizes and awesome things to come from Surface,” he said. “That’s the best answer I have for you.” Whether the company follows Samsung’s lead and launches a vast range of tablets and phablets in different sizes, or simply offers a couple of variants, only time will tell.

The current 10.6-inch Surface tablets, refreshed versions of which were unveiled last month, have a 16:9 aspect ratio, making the ‘long’ screen a little awkward to use in portrait mode for some users. A smaller Surface could launch with, say, a 7-inch screen and a 4:3 aspect ratio. Going by Panay’s words, Microsoft could feasibly roll out larger Surface tablets with a 4:3 ratio, too.

Apple held off launching a smaller iPad for several years, with late CEO Steve Jobs once famously saying that a tablet any smaller than its 9.7-inch device would need to be sold with sandpaper so users could file their fingertips down to size to allow them to touch the on-screen buttons. After Tim Cook took over from Jobs, the small-tablet market took off, with offerings from the likes of Amazon and Google proving a big hit with consumers. Wanting a piece of the pie, Apple launched the 7.9-inch iPad Mini last year. Without sandpaper.

[Source: GeekWire]