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Rumors have swirled that Microsoft might ship a shrunk down version of its flagship Windows Tablet—a Surface Mini, if you will—since last year. But an online retailer that’s partnered with Amazon has listed a case built for the Surface Mini, providing the hardest proof yet that such a tablet is in the works. That’s right: we’ve got pictures.

surface-mini-2Amazon partner Vostrostone has a listing for a $10 “ultra-thin Smart Cover Case” for the Microsoft Surface Mini tablet. According to the listing, it’ll be in stock on May 18, though whether or not that’ll coincide with anything resembling a release date for the Surface Mini as well remains to be seen.

Unfortunately, the listing neglects to offer any dimensions for the device itself. It does, however, seem to show that the Surface mini will have a few buttons on the right side of the tablet when held vertically. Chances are good that’ll be the volume rocker, but that’s just a guess based on having used other tablets. As for anything else regarding the physical specs, it stands to reason that if it’s the “Mini” version of the Surface, it’ll have to be smaller than 10 inches. A post on CNET cites earlier reports that peg the tablet’s size at 7.5 to 8.5 inches, which is right in line for a “Mini.” The tablet shown in the listing’s pictures is almost certainly a cardboard mock-up, but, well, it looks like what one would imagine to be a Surface Mini.

surface-mini-3Moreover, other earlier reports of the Surface Mini have claimed that it’ll be powered by an ARM processor and will run Microsoft’s less robust, pseudo mobile operating system, Windows RT 8.1. It’s essentially Microsoft’s in-between OS for tablets, which is less powerful than full Windows 8.1 for PCs, and more powerful than straight up Windows Phone 8.1. Essentially, Windows RT is good for people who want to get some stuff done, but, you know, not a lot.

In the end, one has to wonder what niche the Surface Mini will fill. A Windows RT-powered device isn’t one really built for power users, but they can help you get work done if need be. They can run Office Suite, and presumably those versions of Word and Excel will be more robust than the versions released for the iPad last month. Of course, there are way more apps available for the iPad (and the iPad Mini), so even if it costs less, the Surface Mini faces something of an uphill battle.

We’ll have to wait and see what else Microsoft can bring to the table with the Surface Mini. And if that May 18 date above is anything to go by, we may not have to wait long to find out.

[Vostrostone’s Surface Mini Case on Amazon]


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