updated 06:09 am EDT, Sat June 30, 2012
HP puts Windows RT tablet plans on hold
HP has shelved plans for Windows RT tablets that would be based on ARM mobile processors, the company has confirmed with PCMag. Instead, the company has chosen to focus only on releasing tablets and PCs running Windows 8 on Intel's x86 architecture. According to HP, its customers have said that they prefer to have access to their legacy x86 apps, rather than be forced to buy new apps to run on the Windows RT platform.
'I can confirm that at HP, we continue to look at using ARM processors in business and consumer products. However, our first Win 8 tablet will be on the x86 platform focused on the business market,' said an HP spokesman. 'The decision to go with x86 was influenced by input from our customers. The robust and established ecosystem of x86 applications provides the best customer experience at this time and in the immediate future,' he concluded.
Last week Microsoft caused a splash when it announced its new Surface tablets, one powered by Intel and the other by ARM, and running Windows RT. It also caught all of its hardware manufacturing partners off-guard, including HP which was said to be actively exploring a ARM-based Windows RT tablet up until as recently as two weeks ago. HP has not confirmed that it scrapped its plans as a result of Microsoft's entry into the segment, which arrived at least one week after HP made its decision to shelve its ARM-based tablet for the time being at least.
It has been suggested that Windows RT may cause confusion in the marketplace among consumers, as on the surface, it looks very similar to Windows 8 on x86. However, it is an entirely new mobile OS that requires all-new apps to be developed for it. The advantage of having a mobile OS running on ARM is the devices are generally much lighter and have better battery life than those running on x86 and could compete with Apple's iOS and Google's Android tablets on a more even footing.
Retaining Windows 8 on x86 tablets will appeal to power users who don't like the limitations of running apps on current ARM-based tablets. It also offers more robust desktop apps as well as full PC multitasking capabilities, with multiple windows running side by side. By having tablets run a full desktop class OS, along side a more mobile oriented variant in Windows RT, Microsoft appears to be taking an each-way gamble on the future of mobile computing.