Microsoft disappointed fans last month by not revealing the next generation of Surface tablets and hybrids currently in development. While frustrating for the tech press, this move should help Redmond sell the current line of Surface with Windows RT and Surface with Windows 8 Pro through the summer.

Surface Getting a Facelift

Windows will push an update to the operating system (OS) this fall, refreshing Surface slates with Windows 8.1. In addition, Microsoft has committed to supporting the first-generation tablets into 2017, making them a solid investment.

Redmond recently rolled out initiatives like the Microsoft Devices Program and a summer education discount for schools purchasing Surface RT tablets. Ads have shifted their focus from fun to productivity and a direct challenge to Siri supremacy. In case you have not noticed: Surface is going corporate.

Managing a Year-Long Life Cycle

The ability to upgrade hardware with digital updates has enabled an accelerated pace of change out of Redmond. The software giant has to juggle promotion against production and life cycle goals.

After all, this line is less than a year old. Surface Pro has only been out for five months, and neither tablet has yet launched in countries like India and South Africa. Redmond knows there is no percentage in announcing the next generation until the current inventory has been pushed through the remaining launches, Windows Devices Program and summer education discount incentive.

Announcements in August?

Once the brand has nothing to lose by freezing the market, expect to see the next line of Surface tablets and hybrids. These announcements may come in August to whet appetites for holiday sales. We have heard rumors of the following new additions to the Surface tablet family:

  • “Surface Mini” with a sub-8-inch screen
  • “Surface Book” with a larger screen, perhaps 13 inches
  • Surface Pro keyboard with additional battery

We may see even updated versions of the Surface RT and Surface Pro tablets, as there is no need to abandon the 10-inch form factor if this summer’s initiatives sell well.

When Will They Be Released?

If Microsoft is targeting a one-year life cycle, we expect the Surface Mini will launch in October 2013, one year after Surface with Windows RT. Some have reported Microsoft is working on a more robust keyboard option for the Surface Pro that will allow for a second battery. If so, this may also launch in time for holiday sales in the U.S. Microsoft will likely keep us waiting until February 2013 for the Surface Book and any next generation Surface Pro.

What Do You Think?

When can we expect Microsoft to show us the new Surface devices? When will they go on sale?