It's expected that the Chinese computer maker's first entry in the Windows tablet market will run chips from Intel, and not the tablet-optimized processors based on the ARM reference design. The report, in the tech blog The Verge, speculates that the tablet may be a production version of the ideaPad Yoga, which Lenovo showed off earlier this year.
The report comes shortly after Dell officials stated publicly that their company plans to have a Windows 8 tablet ready later this year. "We're very encouraged by the touch capability we are seeing in the beta versions of Windows 8," Dell chief commercial officer Steve Felice told Reuters. "We have a roadmap for tablets that we haven't announced yet. You'll see some announcements for the back half of the year."
[ Are you considering Windows 8? Perhaps you should read Windows 8: 8 Benefits For Business. ]
It's also expected that Hewlett-Packard and Nokia will be among the first hardware makers to ship tablets that run Windows 8, which Microsoft is counting on to make it relevant in the mobile computing market.
Windows 8 represents the most radical redesign of Windows since Microsoft shipped Windows 95. Users on Intel-based systems will have the choice of working in the familiar Windows Explorer environment, or in the new, touch-centric Metro interface. ARM tablets will run Metro exclusively, and will not run applications written for previous versions of Windows, including Windows 7.
In terms of Microsoft's ability to make a dent against the Apple iPad, analysts say timing is everything. "If Microsoft succeeds in shipping both versions of Windows together, and in time for the 2012 holiday season (meaning, gold code by August), the company's ability to craft a cohesive and complete narrative around both products increases dramatically," said IDC analyst Al Hilwa, in a research note.
Hilwa said the fact that Windows On ARM tablets will ship with new, touch-based versions of Microsoft Office could be a difference maker. "The ability to create, edit, and save Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote documents across devices, without the need for often-kludgy third-party apps, has the potential to drive adoption of WoA devices in a major way."
The good news for consumers and enterprise buyers? Tablet prices from all manufacturers are expected to decline. The bill of materials for a 9.7-inch tablet, the same size as the iPad, is expected to fall to about $246 by 2016 as demand increases and display costs fall, according to new research from NPD In-Stat. Tablets in the 9.7-inch to 11-inch form factors will represent 65% of all tablet shipments by then, the research group said.
Amazon's Kindle Fire, meanwhile, is boosting demand for tablets that fall in the 7-inch to 8.5-inch size range. "Screen size has emerged not only as a key differentiator, but also the leading indicator of different tablet usages," said NPD In-Stat analyst Stephanie Ethier.
See the future of business technology at Interop Las Vegas, May 6-10. It's the best place to learn how cloud computing, mobile, video, virtualization, and other key technologies work together to drive business. Register today with priority code CPQCNL07 to get a free Expo Pass or to save 25% on Flex and Conference passes..