Microsoft to build 7-inch tablet: Report

A seven-inch version of Microsoft Corp.’s Surface tablet will go into production later this year, according to reports that say the company intends to battle rivals Apple and Google for this hot new spot in the tablet arena as the PC market grows colder.

The device is part of a new lineup of tablets planned by Microsoft, according to the Wall Street Journal. Microsoft has not confirmed the report.

Microsoft’s reported tablet plan comes at a time when the traditional PC market is being assailed by the surge of tablet devices and smart phones which are increasingly becoming the preferred Web browsing and computing devices of consumers. IDC reported on Wednesday that for the first quarter of this year, PC shipments totaled 76.3 million units down by 13.9 per cent compared to the same quarter in 2012.
 
Should Microsoft ship a smaller tablet device, it will compete with Apple’s iPad Mini which sports a 7.9-inch screen and Google Nexus which has a seven-inch display. The report also said that Microsoft intends to slash the prices of its Windows operating system and Office software in order to pump up sales of its touch-screen devices. Some analysts say there has been a dramatic shift in the tablet market towards smaller screen sizes.
 
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Last October, Microsoft rolled out the 10.6-inch Surface RT tablet which is powered by an ARM processor and runs the Windows RT OS. The company also began shipment this year of its Surface Pro tablet which uses an Intel processor and the Windows 8 OS.

The move surprised many partners who were used to dealing with Microsoft as software supplier rather than a competitor that sells hardware products.

The company however failed to reach the top-five position among tablet vendors after only shipping less than 900,000 units to the channel, according to analyst firm IDC.

IDC said the recent slump in the PC market was worse than the 7.7 per cent it previously forecasted. The analyst firm noted that Microsoft’s new touch-enhanced Windows 8 OS, which many manufacturers hoped would give PC sales a boost, failed to deliver on that expectation as many users opted to stay with Windows 7.

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