The Surface Mini is already screwed

*** The Surface 2 announcements have been made since this post was written with no Surface Mini… but Fall isn’t over yet…

When Apple launches the retina iPad mini alongside 1080p Android tablets this Christmas season, Microsoft is going to launch a smaller 1024×768 Surface. It will have an otherwise good panel except for this resolution.

Unfortunately for Microsoft, Windows’ scaling only goes up to 1.5X. To serve the minimum point size of 1024×768, the Surface mini would be a mere 1536 by 1152, not quite the mini’s expected 2048 and the Nexus 7’s 1920.

Windows 8 does support scaling by 2x and even 3x, although if you turn these features on you quickly see they were meant for accessibility reasons only (the pointer uses low resolution graphics). If OS X is designed for 2X, Windows 8 is designed for 1.5X.

Rather than order a custom panel for a product that might not sell well, Microsoft could go with taller cuts of the Nexus 7 screen. 1920×1440@1.5X would be 1280×960. More logical room than any iPad, the ideal 4:3 shape for more content, more pixels than a Nexus 7.

Luckily for Microsoft, rumors are that they’re spending most of their R&D on keyboard cover and kickstand improvements instead of making a device that can stand alone, so the screen they pick might have little to do with why it fails again.