Report: Microsoft preps RT-powered Surface Mini

If you've been keeping up with the latest rumors, you probably know that Microsoft is cooking up second-gen Surface Pro and Surface RT tablets. What you may not know is that, apparently, the Surface RT also has a smaller sibling on the way.

Paul Thurrott's SuperSite for Windows says the "mini" Surface will come out this year, "a bit later" than the Haswell-powered Surface Pro 2 and the (presumably) Tegra 4-toting Surface 2. The more diminutive device is reported to feature an eight-inch screen, an ARM-based Qualcomm system-on-a-chip, and Windows RT 8.1.

Thurrott's story includes details about a slew of other Windows tablets coming this fall. The Surface Mini looks like the only 8", Windows RT-based offering of the bunch. Acer, Dell, Lenovo, and Toshiba all have 8" Windows slates in the works, but those are powered by Intel's new Bay Trail processor, and they run the full-fledged version of Windows 8.

Given how well Bay Trail performs—and how limiting Windows RT can be—I'm not sure I see the appeal of something like the Surface Mini. Windows RT made sense when Intel tablets were priced upwards of $500. Soon, though, Asus will offer a 10" Bay Trail convertible for just $349. And I'd expect 8" Bay Trail offerings to be even more affordable.

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