Windows 8 ARM based tablets may launch before full desktop version

By Tom Warren, on 18th Feb 11 6:37 pm with 16 Comments

Windows 8 at CES 2011

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.

  • GP007

    You know this makes sense to me, if you put all the pieces together. First off the rumor about 2 UIs, if true they have one specific for tablets etc and the desktop UI for kb+mouse then this works because if we’re talking a tablet/slate specific device and not a hybrid then it only needs the one UI, that cuts down the work time needed compared to the full version that will ship with both UI’s and can switch between the two of them.

    The rest is software support, the Office ribbon is perfect for touch, when you think about it the Office UI team must have seen the future coming when they made the ribbon. The rest is other apps, IE etc, but that shouldn’t be much of a problem to work out either.

    So for now this could very well be true unless MS says otherwise officially.

  • Aaron Delgadillo

    Fingers crossed for the Courier.

  • Chaks

    even though it sounds is too late…..

    • AWARD

      How is this too late? The current solutions are for consumers only and do not provide a good enterprise solution. I haven’t seen anything from a LOB perspective become available in the app stores of either Apple or Droid. Seems premature to say it is too late when the industry is still in it’s infancy stages.

    • Guest

      He’s probably right. MS waited way too long, as usual. They needed to be in market a year ago. At worst they needed to offer OEMs something by CES this year. Now those OEMs have all gone Android, except HP which is rolling its own. When MS finally gets around to shipping a tablet OS it will have few or no optimized apps versus hundreds of thousands for iOS and Android. Momentum will all be with Apple (probably 50M iPads sold by then) and Android (10-30M?). And who will take it and build a tablet? Not HP, the largest PC vendor in the world. Perhaps a few lesser OEMS. But will they focus on it and put out their best effort, or will it be like WP7 phones where several just shipped a weak offering to please MS while putting their real focus into Android? Also, there was an article yesterday that Apple has now locked up 60% of all touch screen supply. You know HP and the various Android tablet OEM need to pay whatever now to lock up the remaining 40%. So in addition to missing a solid OEM (or preferably several), there may not be any supply of critical components for that OEM to build anything.

  • James Smith

    cool source bro

    • Wourelia

      It’s more likely that they’ve used the same press release from Adam Holt as source.

    • Tom W

      That is not related to Holt’s note at all…!

  • Anonymous

    Lol! You spelled “weights” as “ways”
    And I agree that It may be too late. With Onenote on the iphone and ipad, I just might get and ipad or the asus Memo for its pen based input. If the Os can be placed on a dual screen device like courier, maybe.

    • Tom W

      Oops, major fail by me there. Changed to weighs – thanks.

  • Anonymous

    Makes a lot of sense. The server versions of Vista and 7 also came later than the desktop versions despite they share the same kernel. Now Microsoft may release a Slate version first, followed by the desktop version and the server version even later.
    So maybe we will see Windows Phone 8 next February at MWC 2012? Hmmm…

  • Deb Shinder

    I take issue with the statement that “the iPad costs $499,” which makes the Windows slate look much more expensive. iPads START at $499 – that’s for the 16GB model with no 3G. I’ll bet most of the Windows tablets will have more than 16GB of storage, along with a number of other things the iPad lacks, such as cameras and USB ports and SD/microSD slots.

  • oolong2

    The only thing I’m skeptical about is: “ARM solutions will support Office 2010 on day 1″

    Yeah I’m sure they will be able to technically “run” office. But that’s different than supporting a touch/multi-touch interface for full interactive with office documents.

    Although I could see how you could get halfway there with some windowing tricks or complex skinning to make it more touch friendly, but that’s only halfware there…

    I doubt they could make something like that work. However if MS could in fact figure out a way to make traditional windows apps run “ok” in a touch environment through some complexed twisting of the windows APIs, that would be huge…

  • Hunk

    But if you want a tablet with a phone OS there are several options there….. iOS, WebOS, Android, Blackberry, Meego,….

    Why Microsoft will compete with a phone company? You know…Apple sells iPads that have a 10´ display and have a Phone OS. And they also shell MacBooks Airs with a 11´ display that have a FULL OS.

    Don´t you think is a gap between this two that is more appropiate for a tablet display? I think yes. And I think that will be Windows.

    I don´t want a Phone OS in a device that can run a full OS….for what? For carry with both devices?
    Don´t you think a Sliding PC like the Samsung ones, with a better touch interface for windows will be the best product for a tablet?

    Something where I can plug a pen drive, print, have a full browser, etc,…?

    Apple can sell all the iPads they want…but I don´t want Microsfot to be a Phone company like Apple is now (it´s future is iOS, not OSX)

  • Anonymous

    Personally I’m hoping this isn’t true. I think Microsofts best option for getting into the consumer slate market would be to have a system like the Motorola Atrix or the Lenovo thing. Basically have a slate that when it’s just the screen it uses the touch friendly UI, but then one can put it in a dock and one gets the full Windows experience.

    By doing that they could destroy the entire market by letting people only buy this “laptop” instead of both a laptop and a slate.

  • Tim Acheson

    Nice! Rest assured, Microsoft will rule the tablet market: