Microsoft may be entering the 7-inch tablet arena in the near future in an attempt to challenge the likes of the iPad mini, Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD. According to the The Wall Street Journal, the Windows 8 creator is reportedly working on a new, smaller lineup of tablets under the Surface moniker that will go into mass production later this year.
According to one of the sources, Microsoft’s decision to move forward with a smaller tablet is in direct response to cheaper and smaller competitors. Although analyst firm IDC says half of tablet sales in the first quarter will be smaller than 8 inches, a 7-incher apparently wasn’t even in Microsoft’s plans last year.
Reports of a smaller Surface come at a time that Redmond is likely reeling from an IDC report that says PC shipments suffered the biggest drop ever during the first quarter. The firm placed much of the blame on Windows 8, whose radially new interface hasn’t won over many shoppers.
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We’ve heard whispers of a 7-inch “Xbox Surface” tablet before, but the Journal’s report didn’t mention any integration with Microsoft’s gaming console. Back in November sources familiar with Redmond’s plans confirmed to The Verge that initial planning for an Xbox Surface 7-inch tablet was in the works. These sources also reportedly said the tablet won’t run a full version of Windows, but instead would come with a custom Windows kernel.
However, today’s report indicates that Microsoft may be more focused on keeping up with the competition rather than developing a video game-oriented tablet. Microsoft has yet to speak on the matter, but the company recently adjusted the Windows 8 specification to accommodate a 1024 x 768 display resolution for smaller tablets.