updated 09:55 am EDT, Wed June 8, 2011
Microsoft Windows 8 tablet would use TI chip
Microsoft may be hoping to more directly challenge Apple with a self-branded Windows 8 tablet, part suppliers asserted in a rumor on Tuesday. The company would collaborate directly with TI, possibly using its 1.8GHz OMAP4470 chip, and brand it much the way the company has the Xbox 360 or Zune. The company was said by Digitimes to be keeping a "low profile," in part to give it the opportunity to scrap the project without much attention.
The developer is still thought to be pushing forward with its eventual Windows 8 design program, which will encourage chip makers to partner with just one PC designer for a tablet to get a tightly integrated design. Its own product would nonetheless be targeted for around late 2012, right as Windows 8 ships and many of the early adopters are doing the same.
It wasn't clear if other PC builders were aware before the leak that Microsoft might try to compete with them.
A self-developed PC would be a risky step for Microsoft and calls into question the accuracy of the rumor. While Microsoft had no reservations competing in the MP3 player space with the Zune, negating third-party hardware that had already been failing to compete with the iPod, a move into designing its own tablet PC would be challenging its core business. PC manufacturers aren't expected to react in the short term but would likely balk knowing that Microsoft would favor its own hardware in marketing Windows 8.
Apple's iPad may have still pushed Microsoft to make its own design. The tight link between iOS and the hardware has been credited to a well-received overall interface experience as well as strong performance and battery life. Most Windows tablets are using off-the-shelf components inside and usually have poor battery life and heavy designs.
The iPad has been a sore point for Microsoft. It had pushed Windows-based tablet PCs for eight years but, in nine months, had seen Apple outsell every Windows tablet ever made. Most have seen it as conscious rejections of desktop interfaces and pen-based computing and the cue Microsoft used to bring the heart of its Windows Phone 7 UI over to tablets.