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Long-rumored Surface Mini appears in Surface Pro 3 user guide

The Surface Mini was supposed to be announced months ago, but its existence is now shrouded in mystery.

Brooke Crothers screen capture/Microsoft

Microsoft's Surface Mini, a smaller version of the company's Surface Pro tablet, has once again surfaced. Only this time, Microsoft has done the leaking.

Long-time Microsoft-tracker Paul Thurrott published a tweet on Friday, saying that "there are Surface Mini references all over the Surface Pro 3 User Guide." CNET subsequently accessed and checked the User Guide and can confirm that the Surface Mini is mentioned several times.

"If you want to do more than take a quick handwritten note, unlock Surface Mini," one mention states. "When you do, you'll get the full functionality of OneNote." Another talks about the Surface Pen's interaction with "your Surface Mini or Surface Pro 3."

The Surface Mini, a smaller version of Microsoft's Surface Pro, has been rumored for months. Last month, Microsoft held a special Surface event where it was expected to unveil both a high-end Surface Pro and a smaller Surface Mini. While the higher-end tablet, the Intel Core-based Surface Pro 3 , was announced at the event, the Surface Mini was a no-show.

CNET sister site ZDNet reported that Microsoft had planned to launch a Surface Mini at the event, but it had been delayed. Late last month, IHS Technology researcher Rhoda Alexander reported that the Surface Mini is still in production and won't launch until later this year.

The lower end of the tablet market is a key component in Microsoft's plans for the space. The company has heretofore been offering slates that appeal to those who want a high-end experience, but the lower end, where devices like the iPad Mini and Amazon Kindle Fire HDX live, is crucial for market share and revenue growth.

CNET has contacted Microsoft for comment on the latest revelation. We will update this story when we have more information.