Perhaps it goes without saying, but we Microsoft watchers still know very little about the plans of Microsoft hardware partners around Windows 8.
Sure, for a couple of years there have been demos of early hardware (mostly x86-based) running Windows 8. At the recent Computex show, there were even a few details shared by Asus and Toshiba about Windows-on-ARM tablets they’re planning, which will run Microsoft’s Windows RT operating system.
(Windows RT, formerly known as Windows on ARM, or WOA, is a version of Windows optimized for ARM chips from Nvidia, Texas Instruments, and Qualcomm that’s largely similar, though not identical to, Windows 8.)
Reports circulating on June 29 about Hewlett-Packard’s plans regarding Windows on ARM — or lack of such plans — got me thinking about which PC makers have committed to producing ARM-based Windows hardware.
Asus and Toshiba are on board, as is Microsoft (and its manufacturing partner, rumored to be Pegatron). Microsoft will sell a Windows RT, Microsoft-branded Surface machine, officials said recently, which should be out once Windows 8 is generally available. (That date is expected to be on or around October 2012.)
- HP won’t offer an ARM-based Windows 8 tablet this year
- Microsoft to feel Surface heat from PC makers
- Google tablet set to limbo in at low $199 entry point
But Hewlett-Packard officials haven’t said the company is going to deliver an ARM-based tablet, as far as I can tell. There have been rumors about this for months, but I can’t find or recall anyone seeing or demonstrating an HP-branded ARM tablet running Windows. There are also rumors Dell may be planning an ARM-based Windows 8 tablet, but nothing official from the company, as far as I know.
On June 29, Bloomberg got an HP representative on record as saying HP’s plan is to start with machines running Windows 8 on Intel x86 chips. The first HP Windows 8 tablet deliverable is going to be a business-targeted tablet.
Via a tweet, Bloomberg also noted that the HP representative said this plan was already on the books before Microsoft showed off early prototypes of Microsoft-branded Surface tablets running on both ARM and x86 processors earlier this month — flying in the face of another June 29 report by the SemiAccurate site that claimed HP cancelled plans to do a Windows RT tablet because company officials were angry about Microsoft’s Surface.
There are supposedly “several” Windows RT tablets in the pipeline, I’ve heard. But when I asked Microsoft today for a list of which companies are committed, I was told by a representative that the list is not public.
Microsoft officials have said that the new ARM-based Microsoft Surface tablets will be out when Windows 8 is generally available, which most company watchers believe will be this fall, most likely in October. The Intel-based Microsoft Surface tablets will be out three months after the Windows RT ones are delivered, Microsoft executives also have said.
Microsoft is privately testing Windows RT in-house and with select partners. So far, independent reviewers have not been provided with Windows RT tablets to test (again, as far as I know).
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