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Microsoft Surface mini tipped to launch later today

Microsoft is rumoured to be launching Surface mini tablet at its Surface event later today, alongside a refresh to its Surface RT and Surface Pro devices.

Potentially a competitor to the new Nexus 7 and iPad mini, which should also get an upgrade on October 15, Microsoft could launch a smaller 8-inch tablet at today’s event.

The Surface mini should make a formal appearance later today at Microsoft’s press event in New York, which starts at 10.30am ET or 3.30pm BST.

The press event falls around a month before Microsoft launches its new Windows 8.1 operating system, which, among other features, introduces compatibility with smaller screened devices.

Windows 8 has previously been limited to 10 – 12-inch devices such as the original Surface RT and Surface Pro tablets from Microsoft.

Unfortunately, there aren’t any rumoured specs for the Surface mini yet, apart from that it will run Windows 8.1 and potentially pack an Intel Haswell CPU.

The new energy-efficient and fanless chips are also tipped to make an appearance in the refreshed full-sized Surface tablets, allowing them to be thinner and lighter than the current editions.

Both new tablets will supposedly look much like their predecessors but will offer an additional 2 hours of battery life on top of 8GB of RAM each.

The Microsoft Surface tablets have both suffered from slow sales since launch, especially due to the increasing competition from the wealth of Android tablets on the market.

 According to IDC, Microsoft has only shifted around a million tablets in the first three months of 2013, with only 260,000 Surface RT units sold in that period.

Last quarter, Microsoft also incurred a $900 million charge for unsold Surface RT inventory, which caused the software giant to slash the prices of its tablet duo.

In August, the price of the Surface Pro was lowered by $100 in the US, Canada, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Next, read our pick of the best tablets of 2013.