Microsoft began shipping its first batch of Surface Pro 3 tablet-laptop hybrids this week and users who got first dibs on the device found several references to a Surface Mini in the tablet's manual.
Customers who pre-ordered one of two Surface Pro 3 versions both running on Intel Core i5 processors can now pick up their orders at any Microsoft store starting Friday. Walk-in purchases are also available at select stores, depending on their stocks. The cheaper version costs $1,000 and sports a 128 GB hard drive. The other one has 256 GB in memory and sells for $1,300. Other versions, including the Core i3 model with 64 GB storage and a top-of-the-line Core i7 Surface Pro 3, will start shipping this August.
Users can revel in their 12-inch slate-slash-laptop with a real digital pen for drawing and note-taking all they like because it looks like the Surface Pro 3 was a last-minute replacement to an earlier conceived Surface Mini. Windows blogger Paul Thurrott first discovered Microsoft's slip in the user manual for Surface Pro 3, which explicitly speaks of a Surface Mini four times.
"There are Surface Mini references all over the Surface Pro 3 User Guide," Thurrott tweets. "Hilarious."
Microsoft has been long rumored to unbox the Surface Mini, an 8-inch tablet that the company hopes will be able to compete with the iPad Mini and other similar-sized slates. The Windows maker has never officially confirmed the existence of a Surface Mini in the works, but a report by Bloomberg cites sources close to Microsoft that the company has actually began production of a smaller Surface form factor and has around 15,000 units on its shelves before shutting down the operation. Chief executive Satya Nadella and devices vice president Stephen Elop reportedly did not believe the Surface Mini could topple its competition.
Analysts believe Microsoft did the right thing because the market for smaller tablets is already saturated with low-cost devices that Microsoft, which will not sacrifice its brand to sell a product will a lower price point, will not be able to compete with. Analysts also noted that Microsoft's Windows Store has yet to catch up with Android's Google Play Store and Apple's App Store before it captures a sizeable chunk of the small-screen market.
"I think the smaller form factor is not yet ready for a Microsoft product," says Carolina Milanesi, chief of research at Kantar WorldPanel.
But Microsoft's not-so-keen-eyed proofreaders have said it all. There actually was (and maybe still is) a Surface Mini after all.