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Microsoft's Surface Mini May Give New Life to Windows RT

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Microsoft (MSFT) may not be ready to give up on Windows RT just quite yet. The company has invited journalists to an event in New York, later this month, where it's expected to announce a new Surface tablet to compete with Apple's (AAPL) popular iPad mini, as well as the recently introduced smaller tablets running the full version of Windows. According to a report from TheNextWeb Microsoft is planning "a small gathering" in New York city on May 20th presumably to introduce a new, smaller Surface device.

Although such a device has been rumored for a couple of years, few details about a new Microsoft tablet are actually known. The mini Surface (Apple might have a problem with a device actually called Surface Mini) may have a touchscreen in the 7-to-8 inch range (maybe a 7.5-inch, 1080p display) with a 4-to-3 aspect ratio - similar to the iPad mini.

Microsoft shares were losing 0.33% to $39.30 in premarket trading in New York.

The new device is expected to run the Windows 8.1 RT operating system on, possibly an ARM-based (ARMH) processor manufactured by Qualcomm (QCOM).

The exact specifications are yet to be confirmed. However, Amazon.com (AMZN) recently posted the availability of a number of accessory cases, stands and keyboards for a Microsoft Surface Mini tablet with an 8-inch screen. Amazon's offerings say the accessories will become available on April 18.

A small Windows RT tablet will have to do battle with the small tablets running the full-blown version of Windows 8.1 already on the market. Those smaller-screened device are currently being made by Lenovo, Dell and Toshiba, and all are powered by Intel  (INTC) Atom processors. The full Windows 8-inch devices are competitively priced between $250 and $300. A similarly sized Windows RT tablet would presumably have to sell for even less.

Within that price range, the Surface Mini will also have to compete with all the new Google (GOOG) Chromebooks reaching the marketplace.

This morning, Lenovo, the world's PC manufacturing leader, announced two new general-use Chromebooks to go along with the two Chromebooks designed especially for children announced just last month.

--Written by Gary Krakow in New York.

To submit a news tip, send an email to tips@thestreet.com.

Gary Krakow is TheStreet's Senior Technology Correspondent.
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