Microsoft has announced the starting lineup for Windows RT, and while HP is passing on this version, the company has firm plans to make a tablet running the x86 version of Windows 8.
HP had been trying to make a Windows tablet with Microsoft for quite some time. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer rather famously showed off a Windows 7/HP-built tablet at the 2010 CES show, which never went anywhere.
Then it tried with the TouchPad, a tablet running the well-respected webOS from Palm’s Pre phones. Like the Pre, the TouchPad went nowhere and was dumped in a weekend fire sale, with HP taking a loss of millions of dollars.
When Microsoft introduced the Surface tablet in late June, it was learned that the company had not informed its hardware partners and that they were pretty mad about it. Asus and Acer didn’t learn about Surface until Microsoft held its press conference, according to Reuters.
For a while it was believed HP was so angry with Microsoft it might shun the Windows tablet market entirely. Indeed, when it?announced the first OEMs for Windows RT, HP wasn’t among the listed partners.
However, HP will do an x86 business-oriented tablet. The firm confirmed to TabletPCReview it has one in the pipeline. “HP has said it will have a tablet in the Windows 8 timeframe. Our first Win 8 tablet will be on the x86 platform focused on the business market. The decision to go with x86 was influenced by input from our customers. The robust and established ecosystem of x86 applications provides the best customer experience at this time and in the immediate future,” the company said in an email.
HP Slate 8
Several months ago, the details of what will supposedly be HP’s first Windows 8 tablet leaked out of this company, including an image of the product:
The Slate 8 will reportedly run Windows 8 Pro and have a 10.1-inch capacitive touchscreen plus 8 – 10 hours of battery life. All other details have not yet been revealed.
Windows RT? Maybe
But will it do a Windows RT-based tablet? That jury is still out. HP denied it, but DigiTimes, the well-connected but not-always-accurate Taiwan-based technology publication, says there is one in the works.?”HP will adopt chip solutions from Texas Instruments (TI), while Dell will use chips from Qualcomm, according to sources from the upstream supply chain,” the site reported on August 2.
Asustek Computer and Toshiba have already unveiled their Windows RT tablet PCs, and now Dell and Lenovo are on board. Windows RT is designed for the ARM-based CPU, and in the blog announcing its partners, Mike Angiulo, the vice president of the Ecosystem and Planning team, said that Microsoft has achieved the goal of one Windows binary for all Windows RT SoC platforms from NVIDIA, Qualcomm, and Texas Instruments. So Tegra, Snapdragon and OMAP will all be covered by Windows RT, and those are three very popular ARM SoCs.
Despite all the complaining from HP, Asus, Acer, and others, these OEMs had nowhere to go and never really left the Microsoft fold, says Avi Greengart, research director for consumer devices at Current Analysis.
“Some already tried Android tablets and failed. Some tried their own operating systems — like HP — and failed. So the hope is Microsoft can establish a second ecosystem for tablets [after the iPad],” he said.
It isn’t clear whether Microsoft’s own Surface product will be a volume seller for the company or if it’s simply setting a bar for design that their licensees will need to exceed in order to succeed with consumers, like Google did with the Nexus phone, Greengart notes.
“The design looks nice, but no one has used one for more than three seconds. So it’s not clear whether it’s any good,” he said.
As to the latest rumor-du-jour, published by Engadget and claiming Microsoft will sell the Windows Surface RT for $199. Greengart doesn’t buy it for a second because Microsoft would lose far too much money. “That [price] doesn’t seem like it’s based in any kind of reality,” he said.