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Why Microsoft Didn’t Launch the Surface Mini on Tuesday



A new report indicates that Microsoft decided to hold off on its much-leaked Surface Mini at this week’s event. Reportedly, executives weren’t satisfied with the unique experiences for it and how customers would be stuck using the desktop version of Microsoft Office.

According to a report from Neowin, an outlet who’d been sharing what seemed to be accurate information about Microsoft’s Surface Mini plans, Microsoft has already designed and built a first batch of Surface Mini and that, these devices are simply sitting in a warehouse somewhere, waiting for the company to launch them.

Allegedly, Microsoft was poised to release the Surface Mini along with the Surface Pro 3 that it debuted on Tuesday, but at the last minute executives Satya Nadella and Stephen Elop decided that there weren’t enough unique reasons for the Surface Mini to be a hot seller.

The Surface Pro 3

The Surface Pro 3

Early reports originating from the outlet and others sources indicated that Microsoft had planned to focus on note taking and productivity with the Surface Mini. Whether this functionality would have taken the form of the instant-on note taking capability that made it into the Surface Pro 3 remains unclear even in this report. That Microsoft didn’t have a touch version of its Office suite of productivity apps appears to have not done the Surface Mini any favors either.

Indeed, it would have been very strange to see Microsoft take the stage at Tuesday’s Surface event and talk about productivity on a Surface device with a 7-inch display. To date all previous Surface devices have included a 10-inch display and the Surface Pro 3 includes a 12-inch display. Having to use a version of Microsoft Office designed for a mouse and keyboard isn’t ideal on these devices, but users can make do because of their large screens. The same isn’t true of the Surface Mini. Using the desktop version of Office with a screen that small would have been a nightmare and that’s true whether users had a mouse or keyboard at their disposal or not.

Reportedly, Microsoft hasn’t yet cancelled the project. Instead, it’s sitting on the units and hoping to launch the device once it’s confident that there are enough reasons to justify the Surface Mini’s place on a store shelf. If this is true, than Microsoft seems to have made the right call. There are a handful of 8-inch tablets running Windows for users to choose from today. There doesn’t seem to have been a decent reason for users to pick up this rumored Surface Mini instead of a Dell Venue 8 Pro, other than a possible keyboard cover and stylus.

Luckily for those who had their eye out for a Surface, Microsoft already has a touch version of Microsoft Office in the works. According to most reports, the plan is to reveal this version of Office sometime in 2014. Screenshots of would could be early Windows Store Office apps surfaced earlier this week.

Read: Microsoft Reveals Surface Pro 3 to take on the Macbook Air for $799

To be clear, the Surface Mini might be the only Surface device to not be released on time because of there being no touch version of Office, but it’s not the only device that feels slightly less useful because of it. Having to dive back into the Desktop in order to check Outlook or write things in Word is an issue that every Windows 8 user has to make peace with in order to embrace the platform.

That’s a shame since Microsoft’s original idea was to have Windows Store apps slowly replace the apps casual users install desktop apps to perform. Desktop apps aren’t just more touch friendly, users can have information sync from in between computers seamlessly from them. The Windows Store actually makes them available to users on whatever device they’re on too.

The Surface Pro 3 Microsoft did announce this week is meant as a laptop replacement and features a large 12-inch display and Intel processors for running Desktop apps like Photoshop. Pre-orders began last night, and Microsoft says the device will arrive on store shelves starting at $799 on June 20th.

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