The Surface Mini was expected to be announced alongside the Surface Pro 3 in May, but did not make an appearance. New information from Microsoft suggests the product may have been delayed at the last minute.
When the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 was released Friday, the user manual for the device was posted to Microsoft's website. The manual contains four references to the Surface Mini, suggesting the two devices were originally slated to launch together as predicted.
"Bluetooth technology links your Surface Pen to your Surface Mini or Surface Pro 3, so when you click the button, your Surface responds instantly," the document said.
The user guide has since been updated, removing all mention of the Surface Mini. This could indicate that the device has been completely canceled, however there is evidence that it may still be in development. Rhoda Alexander, who tracks the activity of display manufacturers for IHS Technologies, said that a total of over 100,000 smaller display panels were shipped to Microsoft over the last year.
"I don't see them purchasing that kind of volume if they've canceled the product," Alexander said.
Alexander's research suggests that Microsoft could be producing more Surface Minis than any previous Surface product. However, the device isn't nearly ready yet, and will likely be delayed until late 2014. One possible reason for the delay is the touch-based version of Microsoft Office, which is expected to arrive this fall. The Surface Mini's smaller screen makes it less than ideal for navigating the current version of Office, which is built for use with a mouse. Waiting to launch the Surface Mini until after the touch version of the program is available could help avoid criticisms surrounding what is one of the most lauded features available on Microsoft tablets.
As per multiple sources, an executive decision was made to cancel the Surface Mini's announcement, possibly just days before the Microsoft Surface event. Before the event, rumors had been circling for weeks, with increasing amounts of detailed information appearing from an increasing number of sources. This led to a great deal of surprise when the smaller tablet wasn't mentioned during the keynote address that announced the Surface Pro 3. Microsoft has released no further information about the Surface Mini since then, but for buyers interested in the tablet, there is still hope for a future announcement.