Microsoft's Surface Pro 4 and Surface Mini may still be coming out next year, despite rumors to the contrary.
The Bellevue company's Surface line of laptops may not have met sales expectations in the beginning as consumers flocked to Apple's comparable MacBooks and iPads, but a recent financial report from the tech titan shows that the Surface line's revenue rose more than 50 percent in the first quarter of 2014. That probably means it's not going away any time soon.
Surface Pro 4
A post at Microsoft's official Surface blog seems to not only indicate that the Surface Pro 4 is still in the works, but that the accessories from the Surface Pro 3 will be compatible.
"We are pleased to share that the following Surface Pro 3 accessories are designed with our product roadmap in mind and will be compatible with the next generation of the 'Pro' line Surface," said Brian Hall, General Manager for the Surface line.
Hall addressed the issue of Microsoft's "longer-term commitment to Surface" for businesses of "all sizes," so the blog post really hits the point home with a mention of the company's future plans with the Surface line. "We have kept our roadmap plans close to the vest, as we needed to properly land new Surface products in a competitive market. But we've always said that we have a roadmap of products. Of course we'll have to wait and see about what those products may look like or when they might come to markets."
The accessories he mentioned include "infrastructure" accessories such as the Surface 3's power adapter, Ethernet adapter, and more.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella reinforced the information with a quote of his own: "Microsoft is putting its full and sustained support behind the ongoing Surface program as one of a number of great hardware choices for businesses large and small."
But what will the Surface Pro 4 offer, exactly? Rumors are all over the charts, but Microsoft may not want to stray too far from the current Surface Pro 3 in terms of specs. The Surface Pro 4 is speculated to include the same 12-inch display but with beefier processing speed and RAM. It will most likely come equipped with Windows 10 and the same 64-bit architecture, but will most likely follow the trend of lighter case with a higher resolution display.
We don't expect the Surface Pro 4 to top that crucial $1000 mark for the standard model, as it will most likely retail for $899, only $100 more than the standard Surface Pro 3.
The Surface Mini has enjoyed quite a storied past already, but the latest word has the smaller version of the Surface Pro coming out next year after several rumors predicted its demise.
The Surface Mini was rumored even back before the Surface 3 was announced, and its functionality has been revived as a more portable version of the popular Surface line. As portability has become a much more important feature to consumers in 2014, the thought is that Microsoft is bringing back its smaller Surface, but delaying it to update the hardware to something a bit more competitive to Apple's iPad Minis.
Back in September, tech blog Neowin reportedly got its hands on the Surface Mini and was quite impressed with it, going so far as to say that Microsoft "killed the wrong product."
The 8-inch Surface Mini was said to sport a Qualcomm processor, 1 GB of RAM, Windows RT 8.1, USB support, and a MicroSD expansion slot. The blog said that it also included the same pen bundled with the Surface Pro 3, and the whole product looked like the Surface Pro 3, but smaller. Price wasn't mentioned, but some rumors seem to hover around $599 to $699, depending on when it enters the market and how competition looks at the time.
The blog goes on to describe a case that comes in multiple colors, and the familiar kickstand feature. "This device is the pen and paper killer," it proclaims. "The size is fantastic, although the bezel does seem large for the size of the display, but the case creates a compact, easy to carry and highly functional tablet. The bezel size is large enough to have a full size Windows button, exactly like the Pro 3 at the bottom; at the top, there is a front facing camera with roughly the same size bezel. It does make the device look a bit odd since the bezel is so large but it does make sense if you are holding the device so your thumbs don't cover the screen."
So the question isn't really when the Surface Mini is coming out, but if it will come out seperately from the Surface Pro 4, or if the two products will be combined to make a super portable version of the popular Surface line. Either way, we don't expect word of the next generation of Surface until at least next spring.