An unpublicized change to its hardware requirements for the Windows 8 operating system suggest Microsoft is planning to offer support to, and potential launch its own, 7-inch tablets.
The changes, which have created much speculation, focus around the fact that Microsoft has lowered the minimum resolution standards for compatibility with its operating system to 1024×768 pixels -- in other words, the dimensions of a 7-inch or 8-inch tablet.
And with the annual Microsot BUILD conference fast approaching (currently penciled in for June), many believe that as well as urging its partners to produce smaller tablets that can compete with the Nexus-7, Kindle Fire and iPad Mini, Microsoft itself may be on the brink of launching a third, smaller and lighter Surface-branded tablet device.
The company's first foray into the tablet market has met with mixed results. Its initial Surface RT tablet won praise for its build quality but was roundly criticized for its stripped back operating system and its inability to run anything other than Windows RT apps, while the Surface Pro -- essentially a notebook and tablet combined -- has only been criticized in terms of price. Many feel that at $899 (without a touch cover keyboard) it is too expensive.
Another ergonomic criticism that came to light this week is that both devices are too big to comfortably hold singlehandedly. The Surface Pro measures 27.46x17.3cm and weighs 907g. A 7-inch version may solve all of these problems.