Roster of hardware makers building systems around mobile-friendly version of Windows 8 includes the usual suspects--with some notable exceptions.
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Microsoft has taken the wraps off vendors' plans to produce tablet PCs based on Windows RT, a version of Windows 8 that runs on mobile chips built for maximum battery life and responsiveness.
Asus, Dell, Lenovo, and Samsung will all manufacture tablets that run Windows RT, paired with processors from Qualcomm, and Nvidia that incorporate ARM Holdings' system-on-a-chip reference design.
Microsoft will also produce a version of its self-branded Surface tablet that runs Windows RT. The systems will debut on Oct. 26, the date on which Windows 8 will be available to the general public. "We are all very excited by the innovation and creativity that will arrive in market this October," said Windows group president Steven Sinofsky, in a blog post Monday.
Windows RT represents the first time Microsoft has forked the client version of Windows. Unlike Windows 8 Pro and other versions of Windows 8, it will run only on ARM chips. And Windows RT tablets will operate in a closed ecosystem similar to Apple's model. Apps will only be available from Microsoft's online Windows Store, and Windows RT will not be sold as a standalone OS.
Windows RT's creation was a result of Microsoft's belief that it needed a true tablet OS that could give consumers a mobile experience that would rival or surpass what can be had on the iPad.
"All of these Windows RT PCs will have consistent, fast, and fluid touch interactions, long battery life, connected standby, and are beautiful, thin, and light designs," said Mike Angiulo, VP of Microsoft's ecosystem and planning team, in the post.
Angiulo said Windows RT systems, be they tablet or PC form factors, would be capable of playing back full HD video for between 8 and 13 hours on a single battery charge, and that connected standby--a lower power mode that keeps systems connected to data networks when not in use--could run for up to 409 hours on a single charge.
He added that Windows RT systems would be capable of waking up from standby in less than a second. "Windows RT represents a significant re-imagining of not only Windows, but Windows PCs and how we partner together to engineer them," said Angiulo.
Not all of Microsoft's Windows hardware partners have bought into Windows RT, however. Notable exceptions include Hewlett-Packard and Acer. HP plans to build tablets that run Windows 8 on Intel Atom chips. Acer, for its part, has criticized Microsoft for its decision to build Surface, which effectively puts it into competition with its OEMs.
Microsoft earlier this month announced that Windows 8 had reached the RTM stage, meaning work on the OS is essentially complete and it's now available to hardware makers.
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