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Microsoft scrambling to build 7-inch Surface tablet, say reports

Microsoft is racing to produce a 7-inch version of its Surface tablet to compete with the Nexus 7 and iPad mini, according to reports.

Microsoft is racing to produce a 7-inch version of its Surface tablet, according to the Wall Street Journal, which quotes sources at the company saying it's having to react to the popularity of smaller tablets such as the Nexus 7 and iPad mini.

The software behemoth hadn't initially planned a smaller Surface, preferring to keep the lineup simpler with just the standard and Pro versions. But Google's success in getting its slates in people's hands has forced a change of course.

The tablet market is split pretty evenly between those smaller than 8 inches, such as the iPad mini, and those larger, like the iPad, according to figures from analyst IDC.

Microsoft recently relaxed the spec requirements for Windows 8 touchscreen devices, so it can run on screens with a fairly modest 1,024x768-pixel resolution, as opposed to the previous 1,366x768 pixels. That naturally led us to speculate that smaller Windows tablets were on the way, and the WSJ report seems to indicate that's the case.

Windows 8 and Windows Phone look to be struggling, with fewer people than expected upgrading to the new OS, and the mobile version taking only 6 per cent of the market here in the UK. PC sales are down by 14 per cent, with Windows 8 taking the blame. Windows RT, the cut-down version the Surface runs on, has been a complete disaster. Microsoft certainly isn't going anywhere, and has the resources to make a dent in the market, but it certainly isn't in the driving seat anymore.

What do you think? Will a smaller, hopefully cheaper Surface turn around Windows 8's fortunes? Is Windows RT doomed? Deliver your verdict in the comments below, or over on our sizeable Facebook page.