After a recent spate of articles on the rumored Surface Mini, a surprise announcement has brought the long rumored device back into focus. An invitation for, “A Small Gathering” is to take place on Tuesday May 20 in New York City.
It is surprising that news of the event is happening not long after a tablet case maker put a case on Amazon for the Mini and it was picked up by Microsoft beat reporter Mary Jo Foley. While many think the event will be about the Surface Mini, it’s not entirely certain. Add to the mystery information uncovered by Brad Sams of Neowin; that there may be another Surface device shown and you have the gadget world quietly pondering what Microsoft is up to.
While I have my own ideas about the event, I think it is safe to say no one has a clear picture of what will happen on the 20th. While the Surface Mini has long been rumored it has also not been as closely followed as say an iPad Mini with Retina has. The Surface line has had mixed reviews since its inception almost 2 years ago.
While the Surface Pro has been considered a success, its ARM based twin the Surface has met with derision in its first version and mild praise in its second. It will be interesting to see how the Surface Mini is received given the consensus that it will be ARM based (and thus not be “Real” Windows).
For me I will be watching for what possible changes Microsoft has added to the Mini and to Windows RT (Windows or ARM chipsets). At Microsoft’s developer show Build they showed a preview of their Office suite for Windows tablets. I expect a beta or preview build to be on hand. One of the big issues for Windows’ ARM devices is the lack of software and an Office designed for touch would at least answer some of the criticism.
Another thing I will be looking for is new services, apps, and games.
A beautifully crafted device is all well and good but without software it’s a paperweight. Rumors of reader applications from both the Xbox and Office teams make me think a Mini tablet announcement would be the perfect place to premier. This is especially the case when the Surface Mini is expected to be aimed as a productivity device. (I mean Comics are Literature, right?) I also hope that a least part of the presentation is on gaming and that they so off a game that entices (like Forza, I want Forza).
Now another aspect of the Surface Mini is supposed to be the inclusion of a Stylus. I don’t expect this to be a Wacom but I do expect it to work with the pen support Windows supports out of the box. I also predict that because the Mini supports a pen there will be some form of Palm rejection technology baked in.
I do wonder how thin the Mini will be given the description of the Pen as being “significant”. I know plenty stylus fanatics that will want the Surface Mini to have a stylus holder but doing so will add bulk which could take away from the profile. There is also no kickstand (or which I find reasonable but will guarantee someone going apes#!t).
Now as to a possible second device or set of devices…….I have no idea what to expect (just keeping it real).
Now according to both Sams and Paul Thurrott, Intel is set to appear at the Surface event. Now this could be something as small as a refresh to the Surface Pro. It could also mean a Surface Pro based on Intel’s Mobile chips. Now if you’re really conspiratorial (like moi) you see this as Microsoft possibly bringing a clamshell notebook to the market.
I mean part of the Surface line’s goal was to bring devices to market Redmond’s PC partners wouldn’t. And to be honest, with PC OEMs like Dell, Lenovo, and HP making laptops running Chrome and Android, maybe it’s time for Microsoft to finally put the other foot in the water.
All I know is May 20th can’t come fast enough.
(Images are not a preview of the Mini but concepts developed by Phone Designer)