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Microsoft may be working on a 7-inch Surface tablet

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Microsoft is developing a 7-inch tablet along with its upcoming line-up of Surface products.

Microsoft lowered the minimum screen resolution specifications for Windows 8 last month in an apparent move to accommodate 7-inch and 8-inch tablets. The change paves the way for more affordable Windows 8 devices and the possibility of varying aspect ratios too. In order to put the company on equal footing with its competition presumably, Microsoft lowered the minimum required guidelines for tablet resolutions from 1366 x 768 down to 1024 x 768. The latter is a 4:3 aspect ratio, but the change also covers the best-selling 1280 x 800 resolution at a 16:10 aspect ratio.

Smaller and more affordable tablets like the iPad mini, Nexus 7, and Kindle Fire HD have all been selling incredibly well. Meanwhile HP took the media by surprise at MWC in Barcelona earlier this year when the company announced its first Android tablet, the HP Slate 7 (1024 x 600). Samsung also announced a new addition to its Note series at the same event, the Galaxy Note 8.0 (1280 x 800) which happens to be shipping today in the U.S.

Now The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Microsoft could be adding a 7-inch version to its family of Surface tablets. The daily newspaper is also citing IDC research firm and claiming that half the tablets sold in the last quarter of 2012 were in fact less than 8 inches. The article closes with one last nugget of information saying, “Microsoft also is continuing to test its own smartphone, although it isn't clear whether it will bring such a device to market, component suppliers said.”

The Redmond-based company may well be preparing the landscape for a smaller Surface tablet, especially since Microsoft also formed a strategic partnership with Barnes & Noble about a year ago focused on e-reading. However, Microsoft declined to comment on the alleged 7-inch device so whether or not it launches its own portrait-oriented tablet remains to be seen.


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Alex Storey, 2013-04-11 (Update: 2013-04-11)