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HTC Prepping Windows 8 Rival To iPad Mini?

HTC 7-inch tablet could pit Microsoft's Windows 8 OS against Amazon's Kindle Fire and Apple's iPad mini.

8 Cool Windows 8 Tablets For Home And Office
8 Cool Windows 8 Tablets For Home And Office
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
Taiwanese computer maker HTC next year plans to release a pair of tablets running Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system, including a 7-inch model that could be aimed squarely at the iPad Mini and Amazon's Kindle Fire, according to a published report.

Bloomberg, citing an unnamed source, reported that both models will run Windows RT, a pared down version of Windows 8 that only runs apps preinstalled by Microsoft--including Office 13 --or those downloaded from the company's online Windows Store.

All Windows RT tablets are powered by chips that use ARM's mobile processor reference design, which aims for energy efficiency and long battery life.

HTC plans to release the devices next fall, Bloomberg reported, adding that both will be powered by ARM-based chips manufactured by Qualcomm. Nvidia also makes ARM chips for Windows RT tablets, including for Microsoft's Surface RT device. Spokespersons for Microsoft and HTC did not comment on the report.

HTC was excluded from Microsoft's original list of vendors authorized to build Windows 8 tablets and hybrids, which included Dell, Acer, ASUS, Hewlett-Packard and Samsung. If Microsoft has now extended a license to HTC, it may be a sign that Redmond is looking to broaden distribution for its new platform, sales of which are said to be below expectations.

There are other signs that Microsoft is ready to pull out the stops to get Windows 8 before as many eyeballs as possible. Redmond originally planned to sell Surface only through its company-owned online and brick-and-mortar stores. But last week it reversed course, releasing Surface RT for sale at Best Buy and Staples.

[Is Microsoft Office Right For Touch-based Computing? See: Office 2013: Is Microsoft Out Of Touch?.]

Earlier this month, Microsoft said it would convert a number of so-called pop-up stores it opened around the country for the holidays into permanent locations.

"Based on the success of the Microsoft holiday stores, the company will extend all of these locations into the new year. These stores will transition into either permanent brick-and-mortar retail outlets or specialty store locations," Microsoft said in a statement.

Microsoft has said that more than 40 million Windows 8 licenses have been sold since the OS was released. It has not commented publicly on Surface RT sales, but some analysts have said that they are running below expectations. Analysts at Boston-based brokerage firm Detwiler Fenton last week pegged sales of Surface RT at between 500,000 and 600,000 units since the product launched on Oct 26.

By contrast, Apple said it sold 3 million iPads during the first three days after launching the iPad mini in early November.

Upgrading isn't the easy decision that Win 7 was. We take a close look at Server 2012, changes to mobility and security, and more in the new Here Comes Windows 8 issue of InformationWeek. Also in this issue: Why you should have the difficult conversations about the value of OS and PC upgrades before discussing Windows 8. (Free registration required.)

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