The Acer Iconia W3 – Is this the mini Microsoft tablet set to take on Apple?

Microsoft has already released the Surface and the Surface Pro in a bid to snatch market share from Apple’s iPad and Macbook Air. So, we knew it wouldn’t be too long before the Bill Gates-founded multinational launched its own mini tablet.

But, it appears Microsoft has been forced to show its hand before it was ready.  Online retail giant Amazon has accidentally revealed an eight-inch device manufactured by Acer and running on Microsoft Windows 8 software.

Acer Iconia W3

The tablet, called an Acer Iconia W3, was shown briefly among Amazon’s product ranges before it was swiftly removed.

Acer W3It’s the first mini tablet that we’ve seen that runs on Microsoft Windows 8 and is clearly seen as a rival to Apple’s iPad Mini, Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 2, Google’s Nexus 7 and the Amazon Kindle Fire.

And, it’s not the only competition that these technology behemoths will have at the smaller end of the market. Microsoft is also believed to be in the final development stages of its own mini tablet, which will be based on its Surface and is expected to be unveiled next month at Microsoft’s Build event.

The listing, on Amazon’s US site, showed the Acer Iconia W3 at a price point of $379.99 for a 32GB model.  It also revealed the new Acer Iconia W3 would come with a dual-core Intel Atom processor and would have a screen resolution of 1280 x 800.

Imaging is expected to include a two-megapixel rear-facing camera and there will be one USB 2.0 port on the gizmo.

Amazon’s specifications also showed a battery life of around eight hours and a weight of just over one pound.

It described the Acer Iconia W3 as out of stock but invited customers to order now for a dispatch as soon as the gadget became available, although there were no details of the launch date on the listing.

Amazon’s gaffe comes on the back of an earlier leak by French site minimachines which reported that the Acer tablet would come with a keyboard add-on, which you could use to turn the device into a laptop.

The new device would appear to be part of moves by Microsoft to make sure Windows 8 is the system of choice for more manufacturers as recent reports suggested the firm was lowering the costs its partners pay for Windows 8 in a bid to give them more leeway to be cost-effective against other operators.

Microsoft will very much be hoping that its own mini tablet versions turn around disappointing sales of its larger Surface tablet.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Microsoft wasn’t planning mini tablets as part of its strategy but soon realised they needed their own smaller device if they were to take advantage of the increasingly popular seven and eight inch market.

We’ll just have to wait and see whether the Acer Iconia W3 appears back in Amazon’s listings in the near future or whether the listing was simply some sort of hoax or a mistake.

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