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Microsoft 7-inch Surface tablet to launch this year

Microsoft’s rumored 7-inch iteration of its Surface tablet will hit retail sometime this year.

There is no clear time frame as to when a smaller Surface will launch but the 7-incher’s debut seems imminent, and Q4 2013 seems reasonable according to sources and analysts. It is speculated that Microsoft is also trying to target the budget segment, which was a strategy that Apple also deployed with its iPad Mini—although one can argue the later as the iPad Mini is still a notch above its competitor in term of price.

Microsoft recently changed its rules for OEMs to allow 1024×768 Windows 8 touch screen devices, and Intel’s CEO, Paul Otellini, also recently announced that $300-400 Windows tablets will arrive this fall.  While Android tablets continue to drop in price, it is clear that Microsoft wants to target the premium audience—largely held by Apple’s iPad line—with its Surface.

Also in circulation are rumors that Microsoft will make some changes to Windows 8 to accommodate traditional desktop users.  One of the main changes is the return of the Start button which is sorely missed by many Windows users who have not adopted touch displays.  Microsoft is set to make some official announcements regarding Windows 8.1 (Windows Blue) in June at its annual conference for developers.

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