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Smaller Windows 8 tablets could happen, Microsoft exec hints

Microsoft is inching ever closer to bringing Windows 8 onto smaller devices, but only if users demand it, says bigwig Peter Klein.

Smaller Windows 8 tablets could soon take on the Nexus 7 and iPad mini, according to Microsoft's chief financial officer Peter Klein, speaking during a Q&A session at the Goldman Sachs Technology & Internet conference yesterday.

When asked about Microsoft's plans to address different sized form factors, ranging from 4 inches all the way up to 13 inches and even bigger, Klein said that the company was ready "to respond to demand".

Klein is not the first person from Microsoft to hint at a future of 7-inch Windows tablets. Windows exec Tami Reller said earlier this month that Windows 8 was designed to run on all different sizes and resolutions.

Microsoft and its hardware partners have so far only released tablets of 10 inches or above, with Microsoft's own Surface and Surface Pro tablets coming in at 10.6 inches.

Klein didn't confirm that 7-inch tablets were likely to launch anytime soon -- opting for a non-committal "we'll see what the customers want". But it's a noticeably different tune from last year, when Microsoft execs said there were disadvantages with 7-inch devices, even with everyday tasks such as watching movies or writing documents.

A Windows running on all different sizes of screen wouldn't be all that surprising, given Microsoft's rumoured plans to combine the Windows and Windows Phone stores, giving apps the ability to run on either platform without needing to code a separate app. "We are getting closer and closer every day to write once and run anywhere," Klein said.

Microsoft is rumoured to be working on a 7-inch gaming tablet, supposedly dubbed Xbox Surface, but the company, nor any of its partners, have yet to announce anything at that size.

Other companies have had roaring success with their 7-inch tablets, with Apple shifting over 1.5 million iPad minisin a weekend, in stark comparison with the rumoured sales figures of the Surface.

7-inch tablets also came out on top in our Facebook poll in December, with the Nexus 7 winning with an overwhelming 60 per cent of the vote.

Would a 7-inch tablet entice you to dive into Windows 8, or is it more suited to larger screens? Expand your thoughts in the comments, or over on our write-once, run-anywhere Facebook page.

Additional reporting by Jordan O'Brien.