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New iPad mini coming this autumn, to battle Windows 8?

Rumours are flying that Apple's cooking up a baby iPad, to crush Microsoft's new operating system.

Apple's cooking up an iPad mini ready for an autumn release, according to reports currently doing the rounds.

Kotaku cites Chinese site NetEase, which reckons 6 million units will be ready for the launch, with the miniature version of Apple's slate built to do battle with Windows 8.

The report claims that the itty-bitty tablet would cost around $249 to $299 (roughly £160 to £190), which is nearly half the price of the cheapest new iPad.

Rumours of a smaller iPad have been circulating for years, but while I've no doubt that a smaller version of the iPad would prove popular, would it really be in Apple's best interests to release one?

The company is selling full-size iPads like hot cakes, and by making kit with different screen sizes, it means more work for app developers, which could lead to the kind of fragmentation that afflicts Android.

Furthermore, Steve Jobs was dismissive of the idea of a smaller tablet, cuttingly saying that 7-inch tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Tab or Amazon's Kindle Fire are useless unless they come with sandpaper, "so that users can sand down their fingers to around one quarter of their present size."

Ouch. But Apple will likely be eyeing up the Windows 8 competition as Microsoft preps its touchscreen-ready operating system. I'm excited to see what manner of tablets Windows 8 produces, though the only one to really be detailed so far is the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga, which will carry a £1,200 price tag. Somehow I don't think that'll be giving Apple bosses too many sleepless nights.

Do you think Apple should make a more portable iPad? Would you buy one if it did? Tell me in the comments or on our Facebook wall