Microsoft is holding a Surface-themed media event today, May 20th, though it hasn’t formally stated which new products the event will focus on. The Windows maker is widely expected to introduce a Surface Mini to compete with the likes of the iPad mini and Kindle Fire, and may also deliver the third generation of its full sized Surface Pro. New Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has shown an ability to adapt in his brief time on the job, revamping the unpopular pricing scheme for the Xbox One. But the Surface lineup is more of a mess and far less popular, representing a mere niche in an otherwise exploding tablet market. With major moves needed, here are the odds of Microsoft’s media event today including various new Surface hardware models and other new additions like Windows 8.2:
Surface Mini: 90%. This one is too obvious for Microsoft not to at least make an attempt at it. The iPad mini is more popular than the full size iPad. Seven inch Android tablets outsell ten inch Android tablets. Part of that is the lower price tags on the smaller models, while part of it is the more manageable form factor. The Surface Mini won’t benefit from an already-established Surface user base of any meaningful size, but market conditions say it’ll have to perform better than the current Surface Pro, if only incrementally. The big question for Microsoft is whether it attempts to compete with the the likes of the full featured $299 iPad mini, or the bottom of the small tablet basement.
Surface Pro 3: 50%. We’re calling this one a toss up for two reasons. The first is that Microsoft may be looking to give all the focus today (and resulting free publicity) to the Mini. The second is that the Surface Pro 2 is only six months old. Is today’s event an evolutionary step for the Surface lineup, or a total reboot in which all current hardware is wiped from the map?
Other possibilities for today: Much as we’d like to hear Nadella talk today about his plans for Windows 9 and how he plans to lead Microsoft out of the sinkhole that Windows 8 turned out to be, he’ll likely decline to mention future operating systems as long as the hardware he’s introducing is still running the current OS. That said, the debut of Windows 8.2 – along with the Surface Mini running it – isn’t totally out of the question. And it’s about time we heard something about how the acquisition of Nokia, which is the centerpiece of Microsoft’s smartphone lineup, will affect its Surface tablet lineup.