updated 11:25 am EST, Fri February 18, 2011
Morgan Stanley sees Windows 8 ARM tablets in year
Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Holt on Friday drew attention by claiming to know Microsoft was accelerating its attempts to compete in tablets. Following a briefing with Microsoft executives, he now believed Windows 8 on ARM chips could reach the market as soon as the end of 2011 or the start of 2012. The acceleration could put it out a year earlier than most expect and would render Microsoft "closer to competitive" with Apple and Google, Holt explained.
It's unknown whether Microsoft would have given out a direct timetable for releases or if information was being reinterpreted. Microsoft almost always posts private and later public betas of an OS followed by at least one near-final release candidate. The process usually takes several months and would need Microsoft to start seeding developers with releases very soon.
Microsoft hasn't commented on Holt's assertions.
If true, releasing Windows 8 so soon would mark the second instance in a row in which Microsoft has sped up the launch of a new Windows version to react to a competitive threat. Windows 7 was accelerated to October 2009 to counteract Vista's negative image and possibly faster switching to Mac. For Windows 8, the move would be both to have a true touch-optimized interface and to get at the much longer battery life, thinner profiles and faster graphics performance associated with ARM-based devices like the iPad or Galaxy Tab.
The company has lately faced minor embarrassments in tablets as its most loyal Windows partners Dell and HP have begun deliberately relegating Windows tablets to niche enterprise buyers where their mainstream devices are all using Android or webOS.
Holt added that switching wasn't necessarily as urgent for Microsoft in the enterprise, however. As a corporate user is often connecting to a remote desktop using Windows or otherwise talking to a Windows server, Microsoft might be generating $100 of revenue per iPad in support. [via SAI]