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Microsoft Pri0

Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times technology reporter Matt Day.

May 19, 2014 at 7:23 AM

Microsoft to announce smaller, bigger Surfaces Tuesday?

Microsoft is holding an event Tuesday in New York City related to its Surface tablet.

The company hasn’t said what it will be introducing but the current speculation is that Microsoft will be announcing:

* A Surface Mini. Microsoft is expected to announce a smaller version of Surface that will reportedly use Qualcomm chips (typically used in smartphones), according to Bloomberg, rather than the Nvidia chips that have powered Surface RT and Surface 2 devices in the past. The Mini is expected to run Surface RT, a lighter version of the Windows operating system designed specifically for tablets.

* A Surface Maxi. The company may debut a larger, thinner — perhaps 12-inch-ish — version of its Surface Pro tablet, according to Paul Thurrott’s Supersite for Windows. Speculation is that this model — along with perhaps others — may sport Intel’s Haswell processor.

I will be covering the event live, and will report on it here starting at 8 a.m. The event will also be live streamed at Microsoft’s news site.

Microsoft is still fighting an uphill battle to gain tablet market share nearly two years after the launch of its Surface tablets — the company’s first foray into its own branded computing devices.

Windows tablets overall held 4.5 percent of the worldwide tablet market share (including both tablets and 2-in-1 devices such as Surface and other tablet/laptop hybrids) in the first quarter this year, according to research firm IDC. Surface alone held 1.3 percent of that market.

IDC, though, sees some good news for Microsoft, though it may be a long while coming.

IDC has predicted a slowdown in the growth of the tablet market overall this year. It attributed the slowdown mainly to consumers in mature markets who have decided their current tablets are good enough and are not upgrading.

But through 2018, IDC believes, tablets will gain more of a foothold in businesses — a development it believes will benefit Microsoft.

In that commercial segment, “the choice of operating system will be a key differentiating factor when it comes to success,” IDC analyst Jitesh Ubrani said in a news release. “Though Android and iOS will remain dominant, we expect Windows-based devices to capture more than a quarter of the market as its benefits become apparent thanks to growing adoption of 2-in-1s.”

Still, the overall 2-in-1 market is tiny.

IDC estimated about 6.2 million 2-in-1s shipped in 2013 (about a third of which were Surface tablets), and predicts 10.3 million will ship in 2014, 20 million in 2016, and 31.2 million in 2018, according to a Computer World report. That report noted, by comparison, that Apple’s sales of iPads in the December 2013 quarter alone totaled 26 million.





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