Operating Systems

Microsoft Reveals Windows RT Who’s-Who and What’s-What

Microsoft has announced that Asus, Lenovo, Samsung and Dell will unveil tablets based on Windows RT by the time it launches the operating system in October.

Each is developing a variety of form factors and peripherals, Microsoft said.

However, all their Windows RT products will have consistent fast and fluid touch interactions, long battery life and connected standby, the company said, adding that all are thin and light.

The Many Faces of Windows RT

Windows RT devices will range from ultra-thin products with high-resolution displays to all-in-one PCs with large touchscreen displays to high-power tower PCs fitted with multiple graphics cards and high-performance storage arrays, Microsoft said. They will be offered in a variety of price and feature combinations.

The Windows RT OS begins a new era of ARM-based PCs, Microsoft stated. All Windows RT system on a chip (SOC) platforms from Nvidia, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments, each of which has developed its own ARM CPU, will share one Windows binary.

“Now, the question will be how many devices run Nvidia, how many Qualcomm’s SnapDragon, and how many TI’s OMAP,” Jeff Orr, a senior practice director at ABI Research, told TechNewsWorld. “There were rumors that Nvidia and Qualcomm got to pick two partners each.”

Spec’ing Out Win RT Devices

Microsoft’s OEMs will provide Windows RT PCs as integrated end-to-end products consisting of hardware, firmware and Windows RT software. The software won’t be sold or distributed independent of the PCs.

The OEMs will unveil their products as the launch of Windows 8 and Windows RT in October nears.

Windows RT PCs will have screens ranging from 10 to 11.6 inches and will offer eight to 13 hours of runtime. They will offer connected standby times of 320 to 409 hours between charges.

The Windows RT devices will weigh 520 to 1,200 grams. They will be 263 mm to 298 mm long, 169 mm to 204 mm wide and 8.4 to 15.6 mm high. Some will come with full keyboard and touchpad solutions.

Some of the Windows RT devices that will be launched soon will be NFC-enabled. NFC, or Near Field Communication, is the technology used in mobile wallets. It will let Windows RT devices share information when they’re tapped together, among other things.

Who’s Left Out

Two major Microsoft PC OEMs are notably absent from the initial announcement — Acer and HP. HP still had the biggest share of the PC market worldwide in Q2 despite declining sales and challenges from Lenovo, Asus and Samsung, while Acer has increased its shipments year over year, Gartner reported.

“Rather than give Windows RT to anybody and everybody that wants to license it, the right way to go about that is to think what Intel partnerships make the best sense first, and which makes the best sense with ARM processors,” ABI’s Orr said.

“HP does a good job in netbooks, and Acer did a great job in being the pioneer for netbooks,” Orr continued. “I think those two brands really don’t have a distinct audience that they’re trying to reach.”

On the other hand, Acer, which recently criticized Microsoft for working on its own Surface tablets, “is one of the firms that isn’t happy and they also don’t like early announcements either, either of which could have kept them off the list,” speculated Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group. “I think this was a decision by Acer, not Microsoft.”

HP “was just burned badly on the Palm tablets and there is a lot of drama at HP at the moment, and they are very risk-averse as a result,” Enderle told TechNewsWorld.

What About HTC?

HTC, which has long been a major Microsoft OEM for mobiles, was also left out. This was because HTC doesn’t sell enough devices, Bloomberg previously reported.

“There has been some discussion around HTC, but they know how to make good mobile products,” Orr pointed out. “I don’t think they’re ruled out forever.”

Microsoft declined comment.

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