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Microsoft Surface Pro 2, RT 2, And (Xbox) Surface Mini Set For June Reveal With Windows Blue 8.1?

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First Posted: May 02, 2013 11:16 AM EDT
New Surface tablet computers with keyboards are displayed at its unveiling by Microsoft in Los Angeles, California, June 18, 2012.

New Surface tablet computers with keyboards are displayed at its unveiling by Microsoft in Los Angeles, California, June 18, 2012. Credit:Reuters

The latest rumors suggest that Microsoft is prepping the Surface Pro 2, Surface RT 2 and Surface Mini (possibly related to the Xbox in some way) for a June announcement, and it's likely Windows Blue 8.1 will be powering all the devices.

While the Surface Pro has only been out for a couple of months, the Surface RT has been available since last fall. We knew about both of them about a year ago, so, naturally, people are interested in how Microsoft is going to move the line forward with its next-generation Surface offerings.

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The Surface Pro 2 (not its official name, by the way) is expected to be just as capable as its predecessor, with better battery life and graphics power. A new DigiTimes report claims that next-gen Surface tablets will all fall into the 7- to 9-inch range in order to feed off demand for smaller tablets. If that's true, it means the Surface Pro 2 will probably slide in at around 9 inches.

According to The Verge, the new slate will reportedly use Intel's new Haswell chips, which were designed specifically to improve these two issues. If that's the case, it will be more than welcome news. The Surface Pro is a powerful tablet, but with a battery life of only about four hours, the Surface Pro 2 would benefit greatly from seeing that number go up.

Much of the speculation around the June announcement, however, focuses on the idea that Microsoft will unveil Surface Mini tablets, or slates in the 7-inch range. There have been rumors that the Xbox and Surface teams have also been working closely on tablets within this range, so it's possible there will be some integration with Surface and Xbox going forward: especially since the new Xbox 720 might be running some form of Windows 8.

We know that Redmond has been working on Windows Blue 8.1, and that part of that development process has been to scale down the operating system so that it's optimized for smaller tablets. Since Microsoft will no doubt spend significant time detailing the benefits of Windows Blue 8.1, chances are the OS will be powering the entire range of new Surface units.

The question is, what form of the OS will the 7-inch Surface Minis run? Will they run the full-featured Windows 8 Pro that was reserved for Surface Pro, or will they be running some kind of Windows Blue 8.1 RT version? It's possible that the 9-inch devices will stay labeled as Surface Pro, running the full OS, while the 7-inch Surface Mini tablets take the place of the RT line and run downscaled, mobile versions with less capabilities. Or will Microsoft offer a mixed line-up and give users their own choice of OS within each range of tablets?

Microsoft's Build Developer Conference will run June 26-28, so expect answers then. In the meantime, here's what we think the Surface Pro 2 / Surface Mini needs to have in order to compete with Apple and Android.

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