World's biggest PC maker says it will stick with Intel architecture, which offers full compatibility with legacy apps like Microsoft Office.
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Hewlett-Packard, one of Microsoft's closest hardware partners, said it has no plans to produce a tablet PC that runs a new version of Windows optimized for slates, according to a published report.
An HP spokeswoman told Bloomberg that the decision was a response to customer feedback. "The robust and established ecosystem of x86 applications provides the best customer experience at this time and in the immediate future," the spokeswoman said.
HP's move is a setback for Windows 8 RT, the formal name for Microsoft's new tablet operating system. Windows 8 RT is built to run on chips designed by United Kingdom-based ARM Holdings. Microsoft has tapped three chipmakers, Qualcomm, Nvidia, and Motorola, to make ARM-compatible chips for Windows 8 RT tablets.
The ARM architecture is generally viewed as snappier and more power-efficient than Intel's x86 platform, making it the hardware of choice for tablet makers. HP said it still plans to produce tablets that run a full-blown version of Windows 8 on Intel chips. Unlike Windows-on-ARM, Intel-based Windows 8 systems will be able to run the full range of so-called legacy apps, including the current and older versions of Microsoft Office.
[ Get expert guidance on Microsoft Windows 8. InformationWeek's Windows 8 Super Guide rounds up the key news, analysis, and reviews that you need. ]
HP's decision comes just two weeks after Microsoft announced plans to offer its own, company-branded Windows 8 tablets called Surface. Redmond intends to produce both ARM and Intel-based models. Analysts have suggested that Microsoft's move into the hardware business with a competitive product has rankled some of its OEM partners.
HP, the world's largest PC maker, said it made the decision to bypass Windows 8 RT prior to Microsoft's Surface announcement. Other hardware makers that have confirmed plans for Windows 8 tablets include Acer, Asus, and Toshiba.
The stakes for Microsoft and its partners are high. Tablets will likely again be a hot commodity during the upcoming holiday shopping season. Apple continues to lead the market with the new iPad, and Google jumped into the game last week. The search giant announced the Android-based Nexus 7.
Analysts have pegged entry-level pricing of Windows 8 RT tablets at about $600, which could put them at a big disadvantage against the $199 Nexus 7, not to mention Amazon's hot-selling Kindle Fire, which also starts at $199. Microsoft has yet to confirm a launch date for Windows 8 systems, but it's widely believed that they will debut in the fall.
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