With Windows 10, Microsoft wanted to demonstrate how a single software and its universal apps can function across all types of hardware, from mobile to desktop. With these ideals in mind, the Redmond giant went ahead and unveiled the Surface Book, Surface Pro 4 and Microsoft Lumia 950 line-ups. What was missing from the 2015 Microsoft product list is a compact tablet to rival with budget-friendly options like the Amazon Fire HD, Nexus 7 and others. Although the tablet market hasn’t been in the best shape in the past couple of years, there is still a well-defined audience for in-between displays that Microsoft planned to take advantage of. Leaked information revealed this weekend that a Microsoft tablet had been in development at one point in 2015, but it hasn’t advanced to the consumer-friendly testing phase as of yet.
The Microsoft Mercury tablet, as it has been dubbed during development process, was meant to be accompanying the Surface Book and Pro 4 launch as the most affordable productivity device from Microsoft. However, the project seems to have been shelved for the time being and as everyone noticed during this Fall’s launch event, it wasn’t unveiled or spoken about. Despite the Microsoft Mercury tablet not being a consumer product or an official one, in fact, it is an interesting device that might still see the light of day early in 2016.
Although the Surface Book and Surface Pro 4 are excellent productivity devices that have impressed fans and the enterprise segment as well, the Redmond giant has an undeniable gap in its product line-up when it comes to affordable productivity devices. Opting for an older model of the Surface is the only choice right now if you want a Microsoft ecosystem on a budget, but this might change come 2016. The Microsoft Mercury tablet still has a shot at being released for consumer, especially since demand for more affordable, yet powerful tablets, has been increasing. Apple still commands tablet sales with the iPad and iPad Pro, but in the Windows segment, there’s little to choose from – unless you go for Chinese brands like Cubot.
From the Lumia graveyard: Microsoft/Nokia Mercury. pic.twitter.com/FB24IfKcCz
— Evan Blass (@evleaks) November 30, 2015
Earlier this year, there were rumors surrounding the Microsoft Surface family, insiders claiming the company was working on a Surface Mini at one point. Those rumors died down after news of a compact Microsoft tablet being canceled surfaced. We can’t help but wonder if the rumored Surface Mini and the leaked Microsoft Mercury tablet are the same, as all signs points towards a connection between the two. Although both are currently being referred to as canceled, take that with a grain of salt. The company doesn’t deny or confirm information about a compact tablet in development, so at this point anything is possible.
I think that a compact tablet like the Microsoft Mercury would respond to an existing demand in the Windows ecosystem for an affordable device that’s not a smartphone. Since the leaked images provided by reputable @evleaks showcase a polycarbonate device with a footprint that suggests an 8-inch display, there is a chance that the company is still working on this device in their labs and we might see Microsoft targeting the affordable productivity tablet market early next year.
Judging from the leaked Microsoft Mercury images, the tablet seems to feature a dual camera setup, a Lumia-like design, colorful back panels and frames as well as a set of stereo speakers. The front camera might be in connection with the Windows Hello biometric security features, which fuels our belief that while the Microsoft Mercury is currently not a real product, it might soon become one. Launching another product this late in the year is a very unlikely road for Microsoft to take, but come 2016, I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about how the company plans to tackle a market segment that has been demanding support for a long time.