Windows 8 Update: Microsoft Surface Mini Merging With Barnes And Noble's Nook?

By Matthew Klickstein , Mar 29, 2013 11:53 AM EDT
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Microsoft seems to be tickling the online rumor mill with its silent altering of new Windows 8 devices. Some suspect the revision will allow Microsoft and hardware partners to develop devices that could rival successful 7-inch and 8-inch tablets already on the market.

If Microsoft's Windows 8 change really portends its allowing device creation that could compete with the likes of iPad Minis and Kindle Fire HDs, this might mean a Surface Mini or Microsoft Reader could be next.

"Are smaller Windows tablets in iPad dimensions just around the corner?" ZDNet asks in a report published on Thursday, March 28. "Will Microsoft's long-rumored Reader make its debut along with the Windows Blue update this summer?"

The original announcement about Microsoft's change was made via its Windows Certification Newsletter on March 12. We are to believe from the newsletter that the changes discussed are effective immediately and have brought the minimum resolution for Windows 8 devices to 1024 x 768 at a depth of 32 bits.

The previous guidelines set by Microsoft set a minimum resolution of 1366 x 768. Otherwise, a device could not have before received certification with the Windows 8 logo. Because the rather surreptitious announcement made through Microsoft's newsletter went out to hardware vendors interested in selling Microsoft-certified, Windows 8-compatible products, there is now more flexibility for a Microsoft Reader to become a reality.

"We understand that partners exploring designs for certain markets could find greater design flexibility helpful," Microsoft says in its newsletter announcement.

With this new permission, hardware vendors could come out with Microsoft-certified products with resolutions comparable to the iPad Mini (1024 x 768) and Google Nexus 7/Kindle Fire HD that both have a resolution of 1280 x 800.

"This is a major concession on one of the key original design requirements of Windows 8, whose 16:9 aspect ratio resolution makes it awkward to use in portrait resolution," ZDNet says. "The 16:10 or 4:3 resolutions of competing tablets are better suited for use in portrait mode - as an ebook reader, for example."

With it having been nearly a year since the patent settlement between Microsoft and Barnes & Noble (which originally, back in April 2012, spurred many to think a Microsoft e-reader was on the way), ZDNet also points to the Barnes & Noble commercial agreement filing from back in May 2012 that makes reference to a "Microsoft Reader."

"If Microsoft creates a reader, Microsoft may include an interface to the NewCo Store in that reader and may surface in that reader all Content purchased by customers from the NewCo Store," the filing goes on to state.

"The idea of an inexpensive 7-inch Surface-branded Reader, running at a resolution of 1024 x 768 with full access to Barnes & Noble's extensive library, is indeed intriguing," ZDNet says. "And of course it wouldn't be just for e-books. With the ability to run the Amazon Kindle app and access the massive Xbox music, video, and games platform it would be instantly useful as an entertainment device."

What do you think? Will Microsoft finally come out with something that will not only compete with these 7-inch and 8-inch tablets but also quell concerns about its Surface series being too pricey? Let us know in the comments below.      

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