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Surface Mini tablet a possibility, according to Microsoft CFO

Microsoft is open to the possibility of making a more compact version of its Surface RT tablet, to tap into the lucrative market for pocketable computing currently championed by the Google Nexus 7 and Apple iPad Mini.

Traditionally, Microsoft does not comment on unannounced products, but the company's chief financial officer Peter Klein was unusually talkative while speaking at the Goldman Sachs Technology & Internet Conference this week. Fielding a question from the audience about the possibility of a 7in Surface tablet, the answer certainly wasn't no. "We're really set up [for making a 7in tablet]" Klein responded. "The notion of flexibility and the scalability of the operating system is actually intrinsic to our vision and our strategy.

"We talk a lot about devices and services, and when we say devices and services, we mean a set of experiences that are complete, that are compelling, and that are consistent across a whole range of form factors and devices, including size of form factor. [In Windows 8, Windows RT and Windows Phone 8] you have the same core code base driving form factors from 4in all the way up to 27in all-in-ones and everything in-between.

"I think we’re really set up to deliver the most versatile set of experiences across form factors, whether that’s 4in, 5in, 7in, 8in, 10in, 13in - and along with our partners in the ecosystem, we’ll work through that based on underlying demand."

That last reference to ecosystem partners suggests that Microsoft may be allowing its software licensees to sniff out the market for a 7in Windows tablet first before taking the plunge itself - but the company would certainly consider such a device. In such a small form factor, however, it would likely be restricted to the ARM-compatible Windows RT operating system found in its Surface RT tablets, rather than the Windows 8 platform from its Intel-powered Surface Pro devices.

With Microsoft claiming its Surface tablets are enjoying strong sales, despite reports of poor supply hampering availability of the Surface Pro and cut component orders pointing to overestimated demand for the Surface RT, the tablet market appears to be poised to grow yet again.

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