Microsoft Surface Pro 3 now available, user manual mentions the missing Surface Mini

Microsoft’s new 12 inch Windows tablet is now available for purchase. Well, some models are anyway. If you want a $799 Core i3 model of the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 with 64GB of storage, you’ll have to pre-order the tablet and wait until August for it to arrive. But Core i5 models with 128GB of storage or more are now available for $999 and up.

When Microsoft unveiled the Surface Pro 3 in May, many people had been expecting the company to introduce a Surface Mini tablet with a smaller screen at the same time. But reports suggest Microsoft scrapped its plans for a smaller tablet at the last minute.

Now it looks like there’s probably some truth to those reports… because Microsoft forgot to remove a few mentions of the Surface Mini from the user manual for the Surface Pro 3.

Source: Surface Pro 3 user manual

Source: Surface Pro 3 user manual

Paul Thurrott posted a download link to the user manual on Twitter, and a quick scan of the document shows at least 4 mentions of the Surface Mini.

For the most part, the Mini comes up when the manual is discussing the Surface Pro 3’s digital pen and OneNote software. That makes sense, since the pen was apparently designed to work with either tablet. The Surface Mini also pops up when the manual describes how to lock a tablet’s screen orientation.

The Surface Mini was expected to feature an ARM processor, Windows RT software, and support for pen input. But over the past year a number of companies have released their own small, inexpensive Windows tablets featuring Intel processors, long battery life, and the full Windows 8.1 operating system… which could have made a Windows RT Surface Mini a tough sell.

It’s possible Microsoft will still release a smaller Windows tablet one day. But first the company will probably want to come up with something that stands out in an increasingly crowded marketplace… especially at a time when the software maker is encouraging tablet makers to use its software by eliminating Windows license fees for small tablets, allowing companies like Toshiba to offer full-fledged Windows tablets for as little as $199.

via SlashGear

  • John Doey

    Looks fake to me.

    • Brad Linder

      The official Surface Pro 3 user manual downloaded from Microsoft’s servers looks fake?

  • Jeremiah Yong

    If only there were a 8 inch windows tablet with a wacom stylus and a similar design to the dell venue 8 pro

    • CyberGusa

      There’s the Asus Vivo Tab Note 8…

      • Jeremiah Yong

        But it’s not as slick as the dell venue

      • CyberGusa

        Dell may have a little better build and screen but the specs are virtually the same and the WACOM pen gives the Asus a good edge over the Synaptic Pen the updated Dell uses…

        So it depends how much you want a WACOM pen option…

      • Jeremiah Yong

        Well I personally really like the grippy back of the dell. The wacom stylus on the asus is a little too thin

      • CyberGusa

        Nice thing about WACOM pens… You can use any one they sell…

        So, just get a WACOM pen you like and recalibrate the tablet and you’re set to go…

        Tablet only really needs the digitizer built in… but the pens are pretty much interchangeable…

      • Jeremiah Yong

        But they did make the asus one thicker to accommodate the pen right

      • CyberGusa

        Not really, that’s why the pen is so thin…

        The Lenovo Thinkpad Tablet 10 for example, they went back to the standard WACOM pen size instead of the version small enough to keep in an internal slot… So it no longer has the slot and keeps the pen externally…

      • Jeremiah Yong

        I just really like the dell one, to each his own I guess

      • mo

        What’s so slick about the Dell Venue 8 Pro? That Wacom stylus is more useful than “slickness.”

  • Patrick Perez

    Personally, I think WinRT makes more sense from MSFT’s perspective for the Surface Mini in that it follows the stated goal of creating new product segments and not competing with OEMs. It seems most commenters/bloggers miss the point of WinRT that is more appliance like, more secure, more simple. Its purpose is similar to Chromebook’s in the Google world, to have a long battery life, simple environment. But it is superior (in my opinion) in that not only do you get the reliabilty/security/instant on of a Chromebook, you get much better off-line abilities and the ability to install software (albeit only software designed for the WindowsRT API, not Win32). But for a formfactor like a Surface Mini, that, to me, is an advantage.

    I like to think of Surface as only running Windows 8 apps (whereby I mean the WindowsRT API). Surface 3 Pro runs Windows 8 as well as Win32 apps and is transitional in the long-term. I can easily imagine a future version of Winndows that ditches Win32, and when that time is ready, I’ll say good riddance. Apps designed for WinRT (whether running Intel or ARM processors) have so many end-user advantages. I expect WinRT will run on ARM and Intel at that point.

    Surface Mini with an ~8″ screen? Seems like a notetaking focused/OneNote device, and classic desktop would not be particularly used much.

    • Brad Linder

      The problem is that you can literally do all of those things with an 8 inch Windows 8.1 tablet with an Intel chip. They have long battery life, decent performance, support for Windows Store apps. You never have to look at the desktop if you don’t want to… but you *can* if you’d like.

      The only down side is probably that Windows 8.1 is probably a bigger target for malware than Windows RT would be, and the ability to install non-store apps gives users more freedom, but more security risks.

      I’m 92% certain Microsoft started working on Windows RT only because it didn’t look like Intel would be able to compete with ARM in the always-connected, instant-on, long battery life world of tablets… but Intel was pretty much caught up by the time RT was ready to ship.

      Now Microsoft has an OS that was developed to fill a need that might no longer exist. But after investing an awful lot of time and effort into building it, the company wants to give it a chance by pushing its own Windows RT hardware if nobody else is going to install the OS on their devices.

      Perhaps as the Windows Store ecosystem gets more robust, Windows RT will start to look more attractive. But for now the main thing Windows tablets have that Android or iOS models do not is the ability to run legacy Windows apps… even if not all Windows tablets run them very well.

      • Patrick Perez

        I think we are in general agreement here, Brad. Like I said, I could see WindowsRT ported to run Intel chips, but without the desktop/legacy. Long-term, the WinRT platform is MSFT’s future. A lot of the security benefits are dependent on that. I make no guess as to how long it takes to deprecate Win32. Perhaps MS will start selling SKUs that have the desktop only to Software Assurance/corporate customers in the future?

      • Brad Linder

        Nope… my point is nobody wants Windows RT but Microsoft. :)

        Maybe that’ll change. But at this point, Windows 8.1 is a much better option for most users.

      • CyberGusa

        I wouldn’t say just MS… Mind, there are companies that would sometimes prefer a platform they can have more control over, more security, and some who would even want to reduce non-work related activity of their employees…

        Companies like Delta Airlines, who got over 10,000 Surface 2’s for their pilots and WP devices for the Stewardess crew, are existing examples of that kind of choice…

        There’s just very little reason for the average user to want RT instead of full W8, and that’s the main problem for RT…

        But, like you said, that may change… Probably when MS finally merges WP with RT, which by then they should already have the Modern UI version of Office and more productivity apps than are available now…

        Though, that may take another year or two… and a lot can change by then…

      • Penn Taylor

        Does WinRT give them more control over the use of the devices than provisioning with Active Directory and only handing out non-admin passwords? Honest question; I don’t know the ins and outs of WinRT security vs. Win8.

      • CyberGusa

        In some ways, RT basically makes the device naturally more locked down as it gives far fewer ways to get around the security or generally alter the device…

        Companies for example can choose to set up their own internal app store and also choose to lock out the normal one and since RT is limited to the MS Store to begin with that gives no way to install any app that isn’t company approved…

        So, even with passwords there can be another level of security…

        While RT apps will also work with W8… So it doesn’t mean they lock themselves to always using just RT…

        It’s just a lot less work locking it down than a full W8 installation where there’s a lot more ways for apps to get installed and for the system to be altered or made vulnerable…

        The problem is it basically only serves a niche range of uses and that’s not enough for the general public to want RT… Just certain companies…

  • Mark

    I’d buy a Surface Mini Pro that runs Windows 8 on Bay Trail. Definitely no Windows RT for me. The only way I’d use some form of RT is if it was merged into Windows Phone like the rumors say. I like the idea of universal apps on both the phone and Windows 8 devices.