Microsoft’s next-generation Windows 8 ARM Tablets and Slates could launch ahead of a full desktop version of Windows 8.
Morgan Stanley’s research analyst Adam Holt issued a note on Friday claiming that Microsoft’s strategy for tablets is “closer to competitive ARM based tablets on Win 8 than some realize.” Holt goes on to explain that Windows 8 tablets could ship as early as this year. “We think that MSFT is further along with an ARM based tablet than some believe, however, and MSFT’s ARM solutions will support Office 2010 on day 1—which should be Fall 2011 or Spring 2012.” Holt cites meetings with Microsoft’s CFO Peter Klein and other c-level executives together with field data for his predictions.
Holt’s analysis runs alongside Dell’s recently leaked Tablet Roadmap. The documents reveal that the OEM has marked Q1 2012 as its date for a Windows 8 based slate. WinRumors understands that Microsoft has been working on an ARM based version of Windows for nearly a year and that it is laboring hard to bring this to the market as soon as possible. Microsoft has previously promised a “major revamp” of Windows for slate applications, that will come in the next version, Windows 8. The software giant has been criticized for its slow response to Apple’s iPad device, introduced in April, 2010. WinRumors understands that Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO, is eager to have a competitive Slate strategy in place before the holiday season. Microsoft’s hardware partners introduced a range of new form factors at CES, a mix between traditional Slates and laptops, but many have failed to wow the market.
Samsung unveiled its Sliding PC 7 series Windows 7 Slate hybrid at CES earlier this year. The device features Intel’s 1.66GHz Z670 Oak Trail processor, 10.1″ touchscreen, 32GB SSD and 2GB of RAM. The tablet weighs just 2.1 pounds and will retail in March for $699. The iPad currently retails at $499 and sold three million units in its first 80 days of release. The iPad is currently selling approximately 4.5 million units per quarter, Bernstein Research estimates. Microsoft is concerned that the iPad could cannibalize Windows sales and those of its close hardware partners.
Windows Chief, Steven Sinofsky, took to the stage at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January to introduce a technology preview of Microsoft’s Windows ARM support and show off an early build of Windows 8. Microsoft is partnering with ARM-based manufactures NVIDIA, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments.
Microsoft Chairman, Bill Gates, said earlier last year that the company has a lot of different tablet projects it is pursuing. Microsoft canceled their internal Courier project shortly after the release of the iPad. The project was an innovative new tablet concept that had promised to combine a dual screen book design with finger and stylus input. The leaked promotional materials demonstrated various concepts that would have brought an unparalleled productivity tool to the market. Most media outlets and analysts felt the move to cancel the device was a mistake.