Microsoft to Release 7-Inch Surface Tablet

Microsoft appears to have shifted gears and is now aiming to have a stake in the lower-end 7-inch tablet market.

After the lackluster debut of the original Surface tab, the company seriously needs to re-evaluate its efforts as the high-end tablet market is a tougher cookie to crack, with the iPad dominating that arena. The smaller tablet market is more diverse.

Microsoft's plans for a 7-inch version surfaced in The Wall Street Journal. Unnamed sources claimed that the company had no plans to release this version initially, but felt it had to respond to the growing popularity of smaller tablets.

The Microsoft Surface Pro was released on Feb. 9.

The Surface Pro costs $899 for the 64GB model and $999 for the 128GB model. The slate features an Intel Core i5 processor with Intel HD Graphics 4000, 4GB of Ram, and a more robust battery. It also differs from the RT version as it has the ability to run the full version of Windows 8 as well as Windows 7 applications.

Both Surface Pro models come with a Surface pen. However, the touch or type covers are sold separately for $100.

Other specifications on the Surface Pro include a 10-inch 1920 x 1080 display, and Wi-Fi only connectivity. It's display falls slightly behind Apple's on the iPad 4, which has a 2048 x 1536 resolution. However, the Surface Pro has four times the RAM of the iPad 4 and higher internal memory options.

The Surface Pro became available in Microsoft's online store on Feb. 9 and will also be offered through the company's retail outlets along with third party stores such as Staples and Best Buy.

The Microsoft Surface RT launched last year and features slightly less powerful specifications. It comes with a 10.6-inch display with a 1366 x 786 resolution, a NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor, Wi-Fi connectivity; 2GB RAM, and runs Windows 8.

It is priced to compete with the iPad Wi-Fi only version, costing $499 and comes in two different memory capacities, with both 32GB and 64GB models.

Microsoft is also planning to release a 64GB standalone version of the Surface RT for $599, which will be $100 less than the version that comes with the Touch Cover and other accessories.