The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Microsoft is currently developing a new line of Surface tablets, including a 7-inch version which should go into mass production later this year.
According to "people familiar with the company's plans", a seven-incher wasn't originally part of Microsoft's scheming, but the rise of the Nexus 7 and iPad Mini have, apparently, spurred the company into action. Sadly, that's where details end.
It's not unlikely that the rumor's true: since the launch of the original Surface, the hardware has struggled, in the main due its high cost. A smaller, cheaper alternative could help Ballmer and co push its tablet range into more broad acceptance.
One point worth considering: if the rumor is true, it shows that Microsoft is certainly keen on pursing—with some vigor!—its new foray into hardware. It just remains to be seen how successful it will be—if, of course, that rumor's true in the first place. [WSJ]