Microsoft's Surface tablets have yet to gain traction with consumers, but the company believes its note-taking-focused Surface Mini will offer an experience the iPad mini and other small tablets don't.

When Microsoft unveiled its first-generation Surface RT and Surface Pro tablets in June 2012, the company had Apple's iPad as its target. Microsoft decided to take a two-pronged approach in its attempt to overtake the iPad in the tablet market. The Surface Pro was designed to offer users the full Windows 8 desktop OS in a slim and light form factor and the Surface RT powered by Windows RT was billed as an iOS and Android tablet killer.

Microsoft came up with a cool concept that the company heavily promoted in its ads for both tablets. The Surface RT and Surface Pro could easily morph themselves into the ultimate productivity tool by using keyboard covers that magnetically attached to the bottom of the slates. Unfortunately, Microsoft confused customers by selling the keyboard covers separately, which added $100-plus if you wanted to be very productive. The company is going to take another stab and this time it will be in the smaller-size tablet market dominated by Apple's iPad mini, and this time it's including what it believes will be the game changer.

The Surface Mini will reportedly feature an 8-inch display and will be marketed as the "best note-taking tablet" on the market. The tablet will include support for pen input through the use of an included stylus, similar to Samsung's popular Galaxy Note S Pen. The slate is expected to include new pen-friendly applications from Microsoft that will highlight its rumored Wacom digitizer stylus-pen support.

The Surface Mini is expected to retain the same design aesthetic as the Surface Pro 2 and Surface 2, which feature VaporMG magnesium cases and a built-in kickstand that allows the tablet to be propped up at different viewing angles. The tablet will also support the use of the company's keyboard cover accessory in addition to pen input.

There's no specific release date mentioned, except that it will "make its way to the market in 2014." We'll keep you updated as more Surface Mini details become available.

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