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.
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.