Benson Lin, Asus' corporate vice president of mobile communication products, said the company is eyeing Windows 8 for its next Padfone product, and that the company wants to make Windows Phone 8 devices.
"With our Padfone concept, the phone plus tablet, I think it makes sense for Windows 8," said Lin in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. "There is no target timeline … but we are interested in making Windows phones."
Asus already makes a version of the Padfone based on Google's Android platform. The Padfone is an interesting concept -- it's a hybrid smartphone/tablet that lets owners surf the Web with one data plan rather than two. The Padfone smartphone runs Android and can be carried around and used like any other smartphone most of the time. It has a trick, though. It can dock with a tablet shell, which has a large screen, ports, and other tablet features to form a single Android-based device. The Padfone is available in other markets, but not in the U.S. Lin said Asus is working with U.S. carriers to bring its products to the U.S.
[ Expect some major new announcements in the mobile industry at this year's Mobile World Congress. Read more at CES Smartphone New Disappointed? Wait For MWC. ]
What Lin wasn't clear on is what version of Windows 8 its Windows-based Padfone might run. The tablet could run Windows RT or run off of the smartphone's Windows Phone 8 operating system. Either way, the idea has merit. It will be interesting to see what Asus is able to design and bring to market.
Separately, LG has also indicated recently that it may once again make devices with Microsoft's operating system on board.
LG was among the first OEMs to support Windows Phone 7 in 2010. It made a single WP7 smartphone, the Quantum, and then abandoned the platform due to poor sales.
"We will release quite a number of new Optimus devices this year and LG also has some new smartphones in the works, that will run Microsoft's Windows Phone 8," said a senior executive to The Korea Times. This is a change of direction for the Korean company, which has lost significant ground to rivals in the last two years.
At the moment, HTC, Nokia, and Samsung are the only device makers selling WP8 handsets in the U.S. Each of the OEMs is offering one upscale model and one mid-range model. They are being sold by AT&T, T-Mobile USA, and Verizon Wireless. Sprint will sell its own WP8 devices later this year.
If there's one thing Microsoft needs more of, it's OEM and carrier support. It appears as though the momentum in Redmond is moving in a more positive direction.
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