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Windows 8 Tablets: Ready, Set...

Windows 8 Tablets: Ready, Set...
March 16, 2012 1:58PM

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With the launch of Microsoft's tablet-friendly Windows 8 expected later this year, a number of manufacturers, including Lenovo, Dell, Nokia, Samsung, Hewlett-Packard and Asus plan offerings to take advantage of Windows 8's Metro interface. Some of the devices will be Windows 8 tablets only, while others may be notebook-tablets.

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With Apple's new iPad generating sales that the company describes as "off the charts," other manufacturers are readying their tablets to use the coming, touch-optimized Windows 8 OS from Microsoft. According to new reports, Lenovo now plans to release its tablet on the same day as Windows 8's launch.

The reports indicate that Lenovo is expecting Microsoft to release its new OS in October.

At January's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Lenovo showed an Intel-based IdeaPad Yoga, which is a Windows 8 Ultrabook-style laptop that flips backward into being a tablet. It's not yet clear if this Yoga move is the approach Lenovo intends to take with its first Windows 8 tablet.

'Very First Day'

Dell CEO Michael Dell also has promised to have a tablet running Windows 8 "on the very first day" the OS is available.

One angle to compete with the market-leading iPad, and with the increasingly popular tablets from Amazon and Barnes & Noble, is to focus on business markets. Dell, which now bills itself as an IT company rather than a PC company, intends to do just that. CEO Dell has said that there is demand for a "a secure Windows tablet that works with all the Windows applications."

The Texas-based computer maker is hedging its bets, since it is also still committed to Android-based Streak tablets, although they have not been having much success.

With its new enterprise focus, Dell will certain run into Hewlett-Packard, among others. HP CEO Meg Whitman said last month that her company will be shipping at least three Windows 8 tablets, based on Intel and Qualcomm chips. According to news reports, one of the new models will be a laptop/tablet combo, one will be a conventional tablet directed toward businesses, and the third model's form factor or target market is not yet known.

Nokia, Asus

Of course, Lenovo, Dell and HP are only the leading edge of Windows 8 tablet makers. Samsung, for instance, has said it will release an 8-based tablet sometime in the second half of this year.

Nokia, now engaged in a major Windows alliance with Microsoft, is intensively working on its Windows 8 tablet, and a top executive said late last year that the target release date is in June. The company's design chief, Marko Ahtisaari, has told a Finnish magazine that he's spending one-third of his time on the project. The expectation is that Nokia is focusing on ARM-based devices.

Asus is also developing a Windows ARM tablet, and European news reports have indicated that it may adapt its Eee Pad Transformer tablet for the new platform. One advantage of that strategy is that the Transformer already comes with an optional attachable keyboard and trackpad, which could be useful for interacting with Windows legacy apps on the tablet.

This jockeying for Windows 8 tablet position comes amidst the line-around-the-block enthusiasm of customers for Apple's newest iPad, which went on sale at brick-and-mortar stores on Friday and still commands more than 60 percent of the tablet market.

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