Microsoft is said to be planning a 7-inch version of its Surface tablet to help it compete with similar size devices from Apple and Google.
The 7-inch version, which will go into mass production later this year, is part of a new lineup of Surface tablets planned by Microsoft, reported The Wall Street Journal on Thursday, citing people familiar with the company’s plans.
The software giant decided to get into 7-inch tablets to counter the iPad mini from Apple which has a 7.9-inch display and the Google Nexus 7 with a 7-inch display, according to the report. The company also plans cuts in the prices of its Windows and Office software to give a boost to sales of lower-cost touch-screen devices running Windows software.
Half of the tablet computers shipped in the fourth quarter were smaller than 8 inches, according to research firm IDC.
Microsoft continues to test its own smartphone, although it isn’t clear whether it will bring such a device to market, component suppliers told the newspaper.
The company could not be immediately reached for comment.
Microsoft started shipping in October last year its 10.6-inch Surface RT tablet, running on an ARM processor and the Windows RT operating system, to the dismay of some partners who were used to dealing with Microsoft as a supplier of software, rather than as a competitor in the computing devices market. The company also began shipments this year of the Surface Pro running an Intel processor.
Microsoft finds itself increasingly threatened in its PC business. The future of PCs is being questioned as users move to alternative computing devices such as tablets and smartphones, IDC said Wednesday while reporting that first quarter PC shipments totaled 76.3 million units, down 13.9 percent compared to the same quarter last year.