Leading up to Microsoft's Build developer conference there were a number of rumors related to a possible Surface announcement. Now that both keynotes are over it's clear there's no new 7- or 8-inch Surface tablet or a refreshed Haswell Surface Pro. However, Microsoft appears to be dropping some accidental hints at the future of Surface and other 7- and 8-inch tablets.
In a session today at Build, on building apps across multiple screen sizes, Microsoft showed off some of the anticipated screen sizes for small Windows 8.1-powered tablets. Although the list, used in the company's developer tools for testing, wasn't exhaustive, one particular resolution and screen size caught our eye: a 10.6-inch display running at 2560 x 1440. Microsoft's Surface Pro tablet includes a 10.6-inch display with a 1920 x 1080 resolution, a screen size also listed in Microsoft's tools. The inclusion of a higher resolution is surprising as the 10.6-inch screen isn't a size that's used widely by other PC makers. Most have standardized around 13.3-inch and 11.6-inch panels for laptops and tablets, with a variety of other non-standard sizes outside of that. Microsoft didn't detail which manufacturers would create 10.6-inch devices, but given the limited use of that display it's possible the company has accidentally revealed a high-resolution Surface.
Small Windows tablets coming in lots of sizes
On the topic of small tablets, Microsoft's developer tools list a 7-inch display running at 1920 x 1200 and a 7.5-inch panel with a 1440 x 1080 resolution. The 7-inch mention confirms Microsoft is expecting OEMs to ship devices with extremely high-resolution displays at a small form factor. A 7.5-inch mention also reveals that PC makers will ship a variety of these devices at 4:3 aspect ratio as well as 16:10, which could make some Windows tablets more like the iPad mini rather than the Nexus 7.
Update: Microsoft's original Windows 8 developer tools also included the 2560 x 1440 resolution at 10.6-inches. That doesn't rule a high-res Surface out of the question though as that particular display size is still rare.