updated 10:20 am EST, Mon December 5, 2011
Windows 8 tablets led by Lenovo, Samsung, Toshiba
Microsoft is taking the unusual step of letting ARM processor designers choose their own partners for Windows 8 systems, part suppliers stated Monday. NVIDIA, Qualcomm, and Texas Instruments were each being told to pick one major and one minor partner, Digitimes understood. Among the major partners, NVIDIA had picked Lenovo, Qualcomm had chosen Samsung, and TI had selected Toshiba.
Samsung had also been chosen by TI as a minor partner, suggesting more than one Windows 8 tablet would come from the company. NVIDIA had chosen Acer as a minor partner, while Qualcomm chose Sony as a similar supporter. Both Acer and Sony primarily focus on Android.
The choice of Samsung was reportedly because of its scale and its relatively strong position among non-iPad tablets, the contacts said. NVIDIA, meanwhile, was purportedly courting Lenovo to get scale in the Chinese market.
Combined with talk of Microsoft dropping the traditional desktop in Windows 8 on ARM, the careful selection points to Microsoft trying to get closer to its Windows Phone model, where just a handful of companies work on tightly integrated devices, than to the traditionally loose Windows PC model. Its method, if confirmed, would be intended to more closely replicate Apple's iPad strategy with a heavily optimized match of hardware and software.
Such a move would, however, risk alienating companies that have traditionally been extremely dependent on Microsoft for their business, including ASUS, Dell, and HP. They can freely make Intel-based Windows 8 tablets, but they're also unlikely to have the same thin designs and longer battery life of the ARM models, possibly leaving them in the same niche positions as today.