It may seem like every other tablet manufacturer is releasing a tablet with a 7-inch, or thereabouts, size screen, however Microsoft isn’t in a rush to follow them. According to Tami Reller, vice president of Microsoft’s Windows Group, all the initial run of tablet computers running Windows 8 will have screen sizes of 10.1-inches or larger.
During an interview with Wired.co.uk, Reller confirmed that Microsoft wouldn’t be offering a 7-inch slate, but didn’t offer any clues on either Microsoft’s partners or its own future plans.
Amazon, Google, Kobo, Samsung, Acer and many others all produce reasonably priced 7-inch tablets running Google Android, while Apple dares to be different with the iPad Mini, which boasts a 7.9-inch display. Tablets with these screen sizes are incredibly popular at the moment.
Microsoft’s new Surface tablets have 10.1-inch screens and are priced to compete with the Apple iPad, rather than the lower-priced Kindle HD and Nexus 7, although a $199 price tag was rumored for a while before the final price was announced. For a new player in the market, is it not a surprise that Microsoft hasn’t chosen to follow the fashion with a smaller Surface tablet to accompany the big screen model?
ZDNet.com’s Mary Jo Foley doesn’t think so, arguing that Windows tablets are made for “both creation and consumption,” and a small screen would make life with Office very difficult indeed. This is backed up by many Windows 8 tablets coming with, or having the option of, a keyboard accessory; something that wouldn’t suit a 7-inch device at all.
Just before the Surface was revealed in June, a rumor regarding a product named the Xbox Surface appeared, where a 7-inch tablet joined what could be the next generation Xbox, suggesting a Wii U-style controller arrangement. Nothing has been heard about this since.
So is that the only way we’ll see a 7-inch Surface tablet? During a recent Reddit Ask Me Anything session, Panos Panay, the general manager of Microsoft’s Surface team was asked if he was considering a smaller, cheaper 7-inch tablet for the future. Instead of a yes or a no, he simply said “keep the suggestions coming.” If Microsoft is planning a small Surface, it’s not going to tell us just yet.