Microsoft's heavily rumored Surface mini tablet may not debut this holiday season. According to ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley, Microsoft is delaying its launch due to a needed software update. Previous reports had indicated Microsoft would go into full production of the Surface mini by the end of the year, but the company has remained silent about any smaller tablet plans. With no mention of the Surface mini at its Surface 2 event earlier this week, Foley claims Microsoft will ship the device in early 2014 instead.

The reason for the delay is said to be due to a Windows 8.1 "Spring 2014 GDR" software update. The General Distribution Release (known as GDR) model is used by the Windows Phone team, but Microsoft is readying a large update for Windows 8.1 too. The Verge understands that, technically, Windows ships GDRs monthly as part of the security and update process. After Windows 8.1 was finalized and hit Releasing to Manufacturing (RTM), Microsoft branched off its code to create a special GDR model that delivers all updates. We're told that Windows 8 and Windows 7 also have similar GDR branches.

Microsoft holding its smaller tablet for a software update

The Spring 2014 update for Windows 8.1 is said to be more significant than usual, but we understand Microsoft will keep its usual monthly schedule of smaller updates rather than shipping large GDR updates every few months like the Windows Phone team. The timing of Microsoft's update coincides with the likely release of Windows Phone 8.1, and we're told some of the work is designed to make the two work better together. It appears that Microsoft wants to ship this particular update with Surface mini, so there could be additional work for 7- and 8-inch tablets involved in the update too. Earlier today, it was reported that the Surface mini will include a 7.5-inch display. Microsoft is expected to use a Qualcomm processor on its future smaller tablet.