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Surface mini? Microsoft reportedly building a 7-inch tablet for launch this year

Microsoft-Surface-Tablet-feature-largeWell, how about that. Microsoft is reportedly developing a 7-inch version of its Surface tablet – a Surface mini, if you will (though you can bet the last hair on your head it won’t be called that).

The Wall Street Journal said late Wednesday the computer giant is working on a “a new line-up of its Surface tablets”, including a 7-inch model, which could begin rolling off the production line before the end of the year. Detailed information regarding the device’s specifications and price wasn’t mentioned in the report (subscription required).

“People familiar with the company’s plans” told the Journal that the idea of developing a mini tablet only came to Microsoft once it saw the popularity of devices like Google’s Nexus 7 tablet, Amazon’s Kindle Fire offerings and, more recently, Apple’s iPad Mini.

The Journal suggested the decision was part of a new strategy by Microsoft “to move more quickly than ever to counter urgent threats to its $75 billion software empire.”

There was talk late last year of Microsoft working on a 7-inch Xbox-branded tablet, though the Journal makes no mention of this one being a gaming device so they appear to be different tablets – if indeed they really exist.

With research firm IDC revealing this week that Q1 2013 was the worst quarter in recorded history for PC sales, Microsoft certainly needs to do something to keep itself in the game. However, it was late to the table with its Surface tablet – and that hasn’t exactly taken the sector by storm – so would things really be any different with a smaller device arriving on the market so long after those of its rivals?

As DT’s Scott Sterling said Wednesday in his piece 3 moves Microsoft needs to pull an Apple-style turnaround, the Redmond-based company really needs to start leading and stop following.