Microsoft May Launch a Smaller Surface Tablet for $299 to Compete with iPad Mini

Microsoft's hardware partners weren't exactly thrilled with the company's decision to launch Surface RT and Pro tablets, especially Acer, which warned Microsoft time and again that isn't easy competing in the hardware space. Nevertheless, Microsoft forged ahead, and though its Surface slates aren't making much of a market share dent, the Redmond outfit may not be finished dabbling in tablets.

Citing an analyst with the Topology Research Institute, Focus Taiwan says Microsoft will probably launch a smaller, cheaper Surface slate in the fourth quarter of this year. The initial name is "Surface Mini," though we'd be surprised if Microsoft blatantly ripped off the name of the tablet it would be competing against, the iPad mini.

Surface Tablets

Whatever it ends up being called, the smaller sized Surface slate is expected to feature a 7.5-inch or 8-inch touchscreen display and low power Intel Atom processor,. Other details are unknown, though the analyst says Microsoft is shooting for a $299 price point.

"Microsoft is likely to aim at taking on the iPad mini because it knows it is hard to compete with Android tablets in terms of price," said Maxwell Chang, an analyst at Topology.

Even so, Microsoft could face intense competition in the 7.5-inch and/or 8-inch categories. In order to separate itself from less expensive Android tablets, it will have to add some premium features, and do so while still being able to undercut the iPad mini.