Print 30 comment(s) - last by blzd.. on May 23 at 8:30 PM

A prototype of the smaller Surface was to be unveiled today

Ahead of today’s official announcement of the Surface Pro 3, earlier reports had suggested that Microsoft was set to launch a sub-8” tablet with a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. The tablet was tipped to have a 7.5” 1440x1080 display and would run Windows RT.
However, today’s Surface event came and went with nary a word about a pint-sized Surface tablet. Now we’re learning from Bloomberg that a smaller tablet was indeed the works — developed in conjunction with Qualcomm — but Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Executive Vice President Stephen Elop pulled the plug late in development.
According to Bloomberg, the device was far enough along in development that it was going to be shown during today’s Surface event, but Nadella and Elop felt that the device wouldn’t be a hit with consumers. Smaller screen tablets make up over 50 percent of the market according to IDC, so the screen size issue shouldn’t be the key factor as to why the device wouldn’t be a hit.

Microsoft Surface Pro 3
The blame could be shifted to the much-maligned Windows RT operating system, but Surface head Panos Panay confirmed that, “Windows on ARM continues to be an important element of the Windows strategy.”
Regardless of Microsoft’s motives for axing a smaller, cheaper Surface, it definitely needs a hit to stay relevant in this space (just as it does with its Windows Phone offerings). Microsoft only had 1.3 percent of the tablet market for the Q1 2014 according to IDC.

Source: Bloomberg

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Makes sense
By atechfan on 5/20/2014 6:41:07 PM , Rating: 5
RT hasn't been terribly popular, and the 8 inch space is full of dirt cheap competitors. I agree that it may have been a good decision to not try to compete there. Avoids a race to the bottom on pricing and razor thin margins. Plus it keeps Dell happy since they make Windows tablets this size.

RE: Makes sense
By cditty on 5/20/2014 7:49:43 PM , Rating: 2
Well said. I particularly agree with the low margin/Dell argument.

RE: Makes sense
By atechfan on 5/21/2014 5:47:35 AM , Rating: 2
While I agree with the decision, I am shocked they actually did it. It must have been a very recent decision, as I didn't get any hints about it.

I wouldn't mind getting one of the prototypes to play around with, but it isn't something I'd pay for. With phone getting bigger, they pretty much cover the same territory as small tablets anyway.

RE: Makes sense
By Labotomizer on 5/21/2014 10:43:44 AM , Rating: 2
Agreed. Considering MS has positioned the Surface line as the premium Windows tablet line it would be counterproductive to have a small tablet where they would have to compete at very low prices. They're better off letting the OEMs have that space and continue to make the best top shelf Windows tablet.

RE: Makes sense
By inighthawki on 5/21/2014 11:24:04 AM , Rating: 2
I feel like there is probably a market for a premium grade small tablet market. Apple has the iPad mini which is, by comparison to many competing Android tablets in its size range, a pretty premium quality tablet, and it's one of the best selling tablets.

I'm wondering if Microsoft just wasn't pleased with the experience, and is holding off. Maybe it'll launch around the same time with Threshold with a number of improvements making it more viable.

RE: Makes sense
By atechfan on 5/21/2014 10:04:07 PM , Rating: 2
After asking around, I'm being told it wasn't cancelled, just delayed. I got different answers from different people about the cause of the delay. Some say they are waiting for the touch-friendly Office to launch, others say the wait is for a merger of RT and Windows Phone. Take both with a grain of salt, I suppose. Hope they don't wait too long or the specs might end up outdated.

RE: Makes sense
By karimtemple on 5/22/2014 12:32:23 AM , Rating: 2
Or if they wait just long enough they can put Cherry Trail in it. ^_^

RE: Makes sense
By atechfan on 5/22/2014 6:05:21 AM , Rating: 2
That's what I would do, but some think they need an ARM tablet for that size.

RE: Makes sense
By nikon133 on 5/21/2014 6:12:33 AM , Rating: 2
RT sub-8 tablet might create some interest with some crazy low pricing... but as it was (with RT tablets so far), Atom based x86 tablet make much more sense.

I'd really like to see Surface RT form factor with 4C Atom inside.

RE: Makes sense
By Flunk on 5/21/2014 8:01:22 AM , Rating: 1
Because Intel is subsidizing Bay Trail chips Microsoft could probably do an Wtom version for about the same price. I can see why people would buy that, for the backwards compatibility.

RE: Makes sense
By zephyrprime on 5/21/2014 11:09:25 AM , Rating: 2
And so few people buy Surface tablets anyway that the subsidy from Intel would amount to a big expense for them.

RE: Makes sense
By BRB29 on 5/21/2014 8:17:50 AM , Rating: 4
Apple's iPad Mini Retina is selling at a minimum of $399. I don't see how an 8" windows tablet would fail unless it has subpar quality.

I, along with millions, love the 7.9" iPad mini for its size. It can easily fit anywhere.

A tablet at 12" is not really that useful. If I will bear that bulk, I would rather just get a 12-13" ultrabook or Macbook Air. The MBA will actually be thinner than a 12" tablet with a keyboard. The Yoga 2 is also an option.

I really don't see why they would abandon showing the 8" tablet. It doesn't seem logical. But then MS is not known to be very logical lately.

RE: Makes sense
By karimtemple on 5/21/2014 8:53:34 AM , Rating: 2
The MacBook Air is far thicker than the Surface Pro 3.

A 12" tablet is really no less portable than a 10" tablet, in theory, but it's a lot more useful.

In this case, the problem is that the Surface Pro 3 is too heavy (1.76 lbs). They use the excuse that this is really an ultrabook and therefore it's actually the lightest (and thinnest) one. Technically, all true.

RE: Makes sense
By ilt24 on 5/21/2014 10:02:02 AM , Rating: 2
In this case, the problem is that the Surface Pro 3 is too heavy (1.76 lbs).

As a comparison, the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2 weighs 1.63 lbs. So not bad for the size, but I agree it's heavier than I would like for prolonged use.

RE: Makes sense
By karimtemple on 5/21/2014 10:24:14 AM , Rating: 2
If you say "9.7-inch diagonal is 1.03 pounds" (iPad Air) and then stretch the 9.7 to 12, you get 1.27 pounds. That's what I want (well, I'd want it to be a little less than 12" really).

It's possible with Bay Trail (or later Cherry Trail, omfg), but no one seems to want to do it. The only OEM feeling any pressure to build a superior Windows tablet is Microsoft, and they apparently won't do any Atom devices for some reason. Very frustrating.

Much Maligned by PWACs
By GTVic on 5/20/2014 8:08:47 PM , Rating: 4
If Apple makes a tablet that doesn't run legacy Windows apps no one complains.

If Microsoft makes a premium device that runs legacy Windows apps and a second one that only runs tablet apps at half the price then the clueless tech wannabes break out in tears.

RE: Much Maligned by PWACs
By w8gaming on 5/20/2014 11:08:35 PM , Rating: 4
If Microsoft made a tablet that doesn't run legacy Windows apps, but run all Apple iOS apps, with the same speed and performance, I don't think anyone would complain either, well maybe except Apple for copying their, well, maybe patented ability to execute iOS apps.

It is the apps that make or break a tablet. Anyone who is thinking RT has enough good apps to make iOS irrelevant is missing the point. There is a huge chunk of the market buying iPad for their kids to play games, and RT pretty much fails in that. And iPad can now run Office too, thanks to Microsoft.

RE: Much Maligned by PWACs
By StevoLincolnite on 5/21/2014 5:27:52 AM , Rating: 2
It is the apps that make or break a tablet. Anyone who is thinking RT has enough good apps to make iOS irrelevant is missing the point. There is a huge chunk of the market buying iPad for their kids to play games, and RT pretty much fails in that. And iPad can now run Office too, thanks to Microsoft.

It is getting better for RT though, but that's only because it will now share the same SDK as Windows Phone, so the app market-share essentially grows by millions overnight with little effort.

Unfortunately, Windows ARM tablets have pretty much floundered, personally I think Microsoft would be better off fighting ARM based tablets with Atom or Jaguar/Puma and throwing a full-fledged copy of Windows 8 8.1 at the problem.

RE: Much Maligned by PWACs
By Flunk on 5/21/2014 8:04:51 AM , Rating: 1
Only applies to newly developed cross-playform apps so it will take a while to see a benefit. I'm sure I'm not the only developer who didn't see enough return on investment to bother porting existing apps.

RE: Much Maligned by PWACs
By robinthakur on 5/23/2014 1:49:56 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed, I looked into developing RT apps as it is so easy, but then decided against it after looking at the sales figures. I'm amazed it's still on sale frankly.

RE: Much Maligned by PWACs
By ilt24 on 5/21/2014 10:27:41 AM , Rating: 2
If Apple makes a tablet that doesn't run legacy Windows apps no one complains.

If Samsung (Asus, Lenovo, Acer, Dell...) makes a tablet that doesn't run legacy Windows apps no one complains either. The reason is most people who are buying tablets don't care very much about running Legacy Windows apps on them, they care more about running the kind of apps they can run on their phones.

Another nail in the Win8 coffin
By name99 on 5/20/14, Rating: 0
RE: Another nail in the Win8 coffin
By althaz on 5/20/2014 9:55:47 PM , Rating: 5
You're dead-wrong if you don't think Metro itself is desirable - it very much IS. Most Android and iOS tablet users would love to have an OS like that...but to most it's just not as desirable as the huge app selections and brand cache of the other platforms.

If Windows RT had the app selection, it would do well. It doesn't, so it doesn't.

By flyingpants1 on 5/22/2014 5:48:14 AM , Rating: 2
People don't care about app selection, so much as the concept of app selection.

It's like 300 mile range on an EV. 99% of the time, you won't use it.

Lack of Office Touch
By Krinosy on 5/21/2014 12:06:52 AM , Rating: 2
I think MJF mentioned that one of the big reasons for withholding the mini was the fact that Office Touch wasn't ready yet.

RE: Lack of Office Touch
By robinthakur on 5/23/2014 1:52:08 PM , Rating: 2
Well, you can already get it on the iPad (with a o365 subscription)!

Wiggle room
By Gunbuster on 5/21/2014 1:40:46 PM , Rating: 2
“Windows on ARM continues to be an important element of the Windows strategy.”

Notice how that is carefully crafted so he can go back and say they mean rolling Windows Phone and RT together for handsets and then killing it off in the tablet space where anyone with a brain wants full Windows 8 with X86 compatibility.

RE: Wiggle room
By karimtemple on 5/21/2014 2:02:20 PM , Rating: 2
That wouldn't make any sense, lol. Windows and Windows on ARM run the same apps, when it comes to Runtime (i.e. Windows Store). There's no sense in relegating ARM to phones when you can put it in tablets too. Windows on ARM isn't going anywhere, tablet or otherwise, because Windows Runtime isn't going anywhere.

K1 coming, NV releasing a gaming tablet
By TheJian on 5/22/2014 5:55:47 AM , Rating: 2
No point in 2nd best for gaming. I don't see a tegrazone type site from Qcom yet or even one Qcom optimized game (why are they not doing this?) and clearly NV knows DirectX so if gaming was a priority even on winrt you go NV IMHO and they've already done it twice (maybe Qcom came up short on DirectX?). Google is rumored to have switched to NV for gaming also hence the delay or why is there no Qcom nexus10 r2 yet? I don't believe they delayed for 805 after they mentioned a gaming centric model (maybe they're doing both, but it has to be NV if it's a gamer device).

MS probably knows this, and benchmarks are all over for K1 now from Shield2, Mipad, and thinkivision 28 (lenovo). If the other guy is going to be all over gaming (NV on android) you don't want to be the guy with worse looking games or non-optimized versions. RT is already a tougher sell than android. The next generation will be won buy whoever has the best gaming (70% of our time is already spent on gaming on mobile). MS has worked with NV on gaming for 20yrs (same with drivers, game engines, devs etc). They've worked with Qcom for ZERO (1?). I hope AMD does their SOC right also, as this may be a major way they can get back to yearly profits instead of a quarter here and there with an overall yearly loss.

By blzd on 5/23/2014 8:30:59 PM , Rating: 2
Every game is Qcomm optimized. That is what the games are developed on and for.

nVidia needs to entice developers to optimize for their hardware, then throw one or two extra effects into the mix and call it a day.

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