With the release of Windows 8, Microsoft and its hardware partners have been focusing on larger tablets, with screen sizes of more than 10 inches. But the company is increasingly signaling that it’s open to the notion of smaller tablets, more along the lines of the iPad mini or Kindle Fire.

“We’re really set up for that,” said Microsoft’s finance chief, Peter Klein, when asked about 7-inch tablets this morning at the Goldman Sachs Technology & Internet Conference. “The notion of flexibility and scalability of the operating system is actually intrinsic to our vision and our strategy.”

He continued, “We talk a lot about devices and services, and when we say devices and services, we mean a set of experiences that are complete, that are compelling, and they are consistent across a whole range of form factors and devices, including size of form factor.”

Klein went on to note that Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 share the same kernel, “so you have the same core code base driving form factors from 4 inches all the way up to 27-inch all-in-ones and everything in between. If you think about our developer platform, we’ve done a lot of the hard work so now applications can scale up or down depending on the size of the form factor. So core to our vision of delivering a set of services across form factors is the scalability of the operating system.”

“So I think we’re really set up to deliver the most versatile set of experiences across form factors, whether that’s 4-inch, 5-inch, 7-inch, 8-inch, 10-inch, 13-inch. And along with our partners in the ecosystem, we’ll work through that based on underlying demand.”

Talking with Windows executive Tami Reller recently, Mary Jo Foley of ZDNet received a similarly open-ended response to the same question, which seemed to leave the door open to the possibility of a smaller Surface tablet from Microsoft or a Windows tablet from HTC.

One question long term is where Microsoft will draw the line on which screen sizes will run Windows Phone vs. Windows 8, so long as those two operating systems remain distinct beyond the common kernel. Another issue to be resolved is the ongoing division between the Windows Phone and Windows 8 app stores.

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  • Excusesoft

    The level of denial that exists among MS’s senior management is truly something to behold. Competitors have been shipping 7″ tablets for more than a year in some cases. That form factor either already is, or soon will be, the volume leader in the category. MS’s response? We’re “set up for that”. When? How? Which OEMs are going to be able to sustain offering 7″ units when Amazon and Google are effectively giving them away at cost and hoping to make the money back on either future purchases or maintaining their lucrative advertising monopoly? How significantly will MS have to cut its licensing costs to accommodate that? MS hasn’t even been able to get its partners to flood the market with 10″+ units, and that’s the premium priced segment they targeted.

    • Bugbog

      So, given that their usual monetization model doesn’t seem geared to competing effectively on such a cheap level, do you want them to blunder into the segment on a “wish and a prayer”, or do you want them to devote some time and effort into creating a desirable device with an effective marketing strategy!?

      • guest

        They devoted THREE YEARS to creating the OS, devices, and marketing strategies that were supposed to put them back into contention. How’d that work out? Now you want them to take a few more years to study things and get it right? Do you think Google, Amazon, Apple are just going to be standing around while they do?

  • guest

    Good luck trying to make a 7″ Surface Pro. It’d be the size and weight of a brick.

    Statements like this “We’re set up for that” are just comedy gold. Less talk, more installed base. Everything else is just BS.

    • Bryan Johns

      I seriously doubt the miniaturization technology exists to make a 7″ that’ll run Win8 Pro. If a 7″ WinRT device were available I’d buy it TODAY. It’d be a little more useful than my Kindle Fire HD if only because I’d be able to easily write an app for it if I couldn’t find what I wanted on the Windows app store. I could do the same with the Kindle but there is no development environment targeting the Android ecosystem that even comes close to the power and usability of Visual Studio, with the possible exception of Xamarin’s offerings.

    • Bugbog

      Given that it’s already been demonstrated that Windows 8 scales from 4″ to 80″, I’d say yes, it IS just a matter of time!

  • Bryan Johns

    I just don’t understand the anti-Microsoft FUD that chokes some websites whenever any story mentions Microsoft in even a remotely positive manner. That’s why I rarely visit Geekwire anymore.

    • Bugbog

      I’m usually quite perceptive to such slants, but I actually don’t detect that in this article. It comes across as quite clear and straightforward!

  • Guest

    The beauty of Windows is that it already runs on ‘blets from 3″ up to 300″. Even if Microsoft were to pass on making a 7″ ‘blet, another OEM could do so right away. Because of this, we expect Windows to continue to make gains until it owns the ‘blet market the way it owns the ‘ptop market, it owns the living room, and it will soon own the mobile space.

    • http://www.facebook.com/kathleen.santuccio Kathleen Santuccio

      is there a 7in surfuse tablet on sale now is itanygood i have tryed all going for ipad did want to try 7in surfuse if they are out and if are good

  • guest

    If only you could talk your way to success. Then MS would be back leading instead of following.

  • Guest

    Yeah, they’re all set. They have long time partners like HP they can rely on. Oh wait…http://www.neowin.net/news/rumor-hp-to-sell-android-based-tablets

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