Could Intel be dealt out of the Windows 8 tablet fun?

Could Intel be dealt out of the Windows 8 tablet fun?

Summary: While you can't have a Windows 8 tablet without Microsoft, you don't necessarily need to invite Intel to the party


Just how much will consumers pay for a for a Windows 8 tablet? Well, the current rumor doing the rounds is that you'll be looking at paying a minimum of a $100 premium for such a device over the price of an iPad 3.

The problem, according to both DigiTimes and my sources within the industry is that both Microsoft and Intel are not willing to drop their asking price for software and hardware and that this could push consumers aware from Windows 8 tablets and into the arms of the iPad.

This from DigiTimes:

As for Intel and Microsoft, the sources pointed out that Intel and Microsoft are also struggling since if Microsoft drops its Windows 8 and Intel drops its Clover Trail-W prices, although the strategy could help raise Wintel-based tablet PC's market share, it could also seriously damage pricing in the PC market and bring down their gross margin performance.

Now, this could get interesting. Why? Because while you can't have a Windows 8 tablet without Microsoft, you don't necessarily need to invite Intel to the party. Hardware OEMs could dump Intel and instead choose an ARM solution from the likes of NVIDIA, Qualcomm or Texas Instruments.

Good for Microsoft, because Microsoft sells a Windows 8 license.

Good for consumers, because ARM hardware would be cheaper than Intel hardware.

Bad for Intel, because the company would see itself being dealt out of a new and exciting game.

Here's how I see things playing out:

  • Cheap Windows 8 tablets will be ARM powered. No doubt. I see them priced somewhere around the iPad mark, not likely any cheaper.
  • Intel-powered Windows 8 tablets will command a premium price. I'm not expecting these to be any cheaper than around $750.
  • A fly in the ointment would be if Apple cut the price of the iPad or continued to offer the iPad 2 for an extended duration at a lower price. This sort of move could kill Windows 8 tablets before they're even out of the door.

So, what do you think? How much would you pay for a Windows 8 tablet, and would you be happy going choosing an ARM system over Intel?

Topics: Software, Hardware, Laptops, Microsoft, Mobility, Operating Systems, Tablets, Windows

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  • Multiple price points....

    Arm tablets will compete directly against IPads and some will be cheaper than IPads. I would expect multiple vendors/features/prices that will allow anybody to buy the tablet they can afford. Remember, you're not just competing against Apple, but also trying to beat out the cheaper Android devices out there. Of course, that is unless the goal is to let Android have all the sub-$500 market and Apple and MS exclusively fight for the +$500 market......would seem the wrong thing for MS to want.

    Intel powered Tablets will not just be tablets, but will be full PC's that can run any x86 program as well as Metro apps. These devices even if priced at IPad prices or a little higher, will provide a complete computing experience that the IPad cannot compete with, therefore, even if costing a little more, will win.

    I expect MS partners to do exactly what they always do. Provide many different devices and options at many different price points. This is still something Apple doesn't do.

    The first tablet I ever purchase will be a Windows 8 arm device and will be as cheap as possible. My next PC (laptop) will be a Windows 8 Intel device that will probably be some sort of Tablet/Laptop hybrid device.
    • It's going to be hard ...


      ... for iOS and Android devices to compete against x86 Windows 8 PCs, because x86 Windows 8 PCs will be considered primary devices, while iOS and Android devices will continue to be considered secondary devices. When push comes to shove, people are going to opt for primary devices over secondary devices. Now x86 Windows 8 PCs will probably generate a halo effect, which will sweep Windows 8 ARM and x86 secondary PCs, into the market, on its coat tails. (Mind you I think the market dynamics will be more complex, but I believe the above dynamic will dominate.) So I think the Android and iPad tablet market will likely be sidelined; but while the Android market may not survive, the iPad market should do well - similar to the way Mac OS PCs do well financially in the overall PC market.
      P. Douglas
      • I agree....

        @P. Douglas

        I agree, however what I'ved noticed in the last year or so is that people want secondary devices all over the place. I see Arm/Android/IOS tablets as being those coffee table devices that you leave in the living room etc. You know, Dad or mom have their Intel Tablet/Hybrid on one couch while the other spouse/kids have one or more basic tablets in their hands on the floor, outside/etc. We are definately in a tech overload era where it seems every house is finding a "want" for multiple secondary devices everywhere they go. I wonder what the person/device ratio will be in the average house a year from now. I know it's climbing!

        Just like all the kids these days who are all staring at their phones and ignoring everyone in the room, our future family will all be staring at their tablets and instant messaging each other when dinner is ready ... lol.
      • No sale

        I think you have well-summarized the thinking around Redmond, but I don't believe a word of it. In particular I don't believe that anything without a keyboard is ever going to be a "primary device." As soon as you start taking a tablet and adding the cost of a docking station or a slide-out keyboard, you will run into Ultrabooks, which have a much more believable claim as "primary devices."

        I frankly don't see [i]any[/i] advantage to "Windows on tablets" except to the extent that Microsoft's sizable army of developers comes up with new and exciting "hit products" for the Metro app store. They might. They might not.

        I think the pre-release PR propaganda about how the world is waiting for a keyboardless device on which to do RealWork(tm) is bunk. It is how a marketing guy in Redmond would wish the world works. Because he knows it doesn't, he spins a tale about "transformers" and docking stations with keyboards, as though those won't ultimately push the cost of the devices above the cost of Ultrabooks, and for certain above the cost of notebooks.

        I think the people around here who say that tablets are ultimately 'casual use' devices are correct. I don't see Windows changing that. People who want to do RealWork(tm) will look at tablets, but most will end up buying something else.
        Robert Hahn
      • I guess we'll just have to see

        @Robert Hahn,

        Touch computing is much more engaging, natural, and intuitive; and interacting with these kinds of apps is actually faster - in particular finger and stylus based manipulation vs. mouse / trackpad based manipulation. Most productivity apps don't require huge amounts of typing, and can get by with soft keyboards - with users maintaining a high level of productivity. Also being able to customize soft keyboards can be a boon to apps requiring restricted types of inputs, and boost productivity. Plus innovations like word prediction engines and soft keyboard systems like the liquidkeyboard (h-t-t-p:// can further erode the necessity of the physical keyboard. Therefore it seems likely to me that we will see plain Windows 8 tablets as well as convertibles handling both productivity and consumptive activities, and over time, plain tablets will dominate because of their relative simplicity to handle and operate. I remember when people swore over the necessity of physical keyboards on smartphones, and now smartphones with keyboards are becoming a fast dwindling minority.
        P. Douglas
      • Yes ...


        ... we may all end up like the people in the movie Surrogates (h-t-t-p://
        P. Douglas
  • Kill Windows 8 Tablets?

    You're assuming that potential Windows 8 buyers look at price only. Maybe some of them *want* a Windows 8 tablet, and don't care how expensive or cheap the iPad2 is. Kill is a strong word.
  • RE: Could Intel be dealt out of the Windows 8 tablet fun?

    The problem I see here is you didn't account for the current Win 7 slates in currently being used can easily be upgraded to Win 8 when it is released. Who needs a tablet when you can actually use something that actually has ports and a hdd/ssd in it instead of just using something with just 16, 32, or 64gb of storage when you can have something that is highly expandable in the storage arena.
  • This is the same Digitimes......

    which said that Ultrabooks will be really expensive and Intel is not willing to take a price cut and OEMs are not going to bring them to the market (or bring them in at >$1000). And the next thing we know, Intel is discounting the processors and pushing the ultrabook category. We now see $700-800 Ultrabooks. Digitimes is a rumor mill whose sources are low level Taiwenese OEM employees with minimal information. Unless your source is a VP level person please do ot trust them. I do not see why Intel will not discount Tablets the same way they did Ultrabooks. I will bet that the windows 8 tablets will vary in pricing and range from lower than iPad for some to more than iPad for others.
    And do not forget that Intel will also crash the ARM android party the next quarter with ICS tablets!!
  • RE: Could Intel be dealt out of the Windows 8 tablet fun?

    Everyone is assuming that Microsoft is coming out with an ARM version, my guess is that was tactic to get Intel to develop lower power/price X86 chips.
    • Nano nano

      Intel's manufacturing lead times are such that there isn't much they can do to react to events. If they didn't see it coming two years ago, it's too late to fix it now.

      The good news is, they're apparently on schedule for production of 22nm "Ivy Bridge" processors, which will be the most energy-efficient Intel CPUs ever. Will they match the latest ARM designs in battery life in an actual device? We'll see. Intel had better hope they do. The next generation, the "Haswells", aren't due until 2013.
      Robert Hahn
      • RE: Could Intel be dealt out of the Windows 8 tablet fun?

        @Robert Hahn And perhaps this is why Intel is building those 22nm chips, because Microsoft has been on the ARM kick for over a year.
        From EE Times
        Why Microsoft Windows 8 will run on ARM
        Rick Merritt
        10/14/2010 6:15 AM EDT
      • And 2013 is so long after the GA of W8. Wait what?

        And yes I'd expect to see intel based W8 devices with longer battery life. Bargain oems may skimp on optimization but W8 has much better power management than either ios/android for the oems who dont ignore/counter it.
        Johnny Vegas
  • Cheaper x86 tablets do exist...

    Some x86 based tablets can be produced at a much cheaper price than $750. Acer already does it with the Iconia Tab W500 using a C-50 APU (around $500 including the keyboard dock, 32GB SSD, 6 hours battery and OS license). Windows 8 already runs very nicely on such devices.<br><br>Now, one can expect similar newer hardware using the new AMD Z-01 APU (half the C-50 power requirement with same performance) coming up soon. The price point should be the same, if not inferior.
  • Where is the logic in the price assumption?

    Why would a Wintel 8 tablet necessarily be over $750? You can get a Wintel 7 laptop easily for $3-400. Tablet hardware is clearly not more expensive than laptop hardware, since they are now doing decent tablets for $250.

    Also, how is even a cheaper Win 8 tablet on ARM a compelling proposition? You have a Windows tablet but it doesn't run any Windows apps, since none of them are compiled to run on ARM? What are people going to do when they open up their Windows 8 tablet and find that none of their Windows programs install? Might as well go with Android or iOS for their vastly better app selection.

    I can see maybe wanting a Win 8 tablet, but the only reason would be if it ran Windows software. And if it were a reasonable price, like $3-400. If they can't do that then the whole thing will go nowhere, or maybe about as far as previous Windows tablets, which is pretty much nowhere.

    Win 8 on ARM is bunk. It's pointless.
  • RE: Could Intel be dealt out of the Windows 8 tablet fun?

    All of you, including the author, are assuming that Intel tablets must have Windows 8 OS, and must have a hefty notebook chip. How nearsighted...
    Lenovo and Motorola are fielding Intel Medifield phones this year, with Android. What's stopping Medfield Android TABLETS from popping up?
    • Nothing. Intel will be taking ARM marketshare in both tablets and

      smartphones this year and it will start growing substantially now that intel has the chips that can beat ARM like a drum and at the same time have lower power requirements. What we've seen so far is like when linux had 100% of the netbook market. 2015 will look much different.
      Johnny Vegas
  • AKH was this post a joke? An experiment to see what replies youd get?

    Surely you're not serious. Of course there will be W8 tablets $100's below the cost of an ipad, and with much better specs. Just like there will be with ultrabooks vs air. Apples supply chain shennanigans are completely countermanded by it's corporate profit margin greed. And intel will be on many of them. Intel is always willing to be price competitive when the rubber meets the road. They will have to to compete with arm just like they have had to in the past compete with amd. And no I will not stop calling you Shirley. :)
    Johnny Vegas
  • RE: Could Intel be dealt out of the Windows 8 tablet fun?

    I'm putting my hand up as a person willing to spend MUCH more on a proper Windows 8 tablet than an iPad.

    I'm a medical student. Last year I went to uni with TWO tablets, one being an iPad and one being an HP TX2 convertible tablet PC running Windows 7. The HP tablet was my lecture notes taking device, it runs OneNote, it has a stylus for electronic ink writing, it could easily navigate around and download things from the university WebCT website that wasn't iPad compatible (the website is being upgraded this year though to Moodle), it had a huge hard disk and I could plug in external hard drives and other things via the USB ports. The iPad can't touch that.

    But for labs I used my iPad. It's much easier to carry, gave me one hand for navigating around the anatomy atlas and the other hand for doing what we anatomy students do in anatomy labs. ;)

    I also grabbed the iPad for when I wanted to quickly check my email but couldn't be bothered booting up the PC, or look at my calendar, or challenge a classmate to a round of High Noon. It was also a good eBook reader and I put most of my texts on it.

    As a gadget hound, I found both devices indispensible.

    If a Windows machine can be made as light, quick booting and convenient as an iPad then I won't need the iPad any more.

    But unlike an iPad, it will be capable of running OneNote, it will have a proper stylus digitizer (I won't be buying any of the tablets that don't have a digitizer), I'll be able to save any kind of file from the internet, I can print with it, I can use USB peripherals etc.

    Since I don't look at Windows 8 tablets as fun gadgets like iPads, rather as serious computers capable of running whatever program I like, I'm prepared to pay laptop money for one.

    I'd love to buy one for a few hundred bucks, that'll be an amazing bargain. But, realistically, my last few laptops have all cost well over $1,000 because they were proper computers. My Windows 8 tablet will be a proper computer. I'm prepared to pay proper computer prices.
    • RE: Could Intel be dealt out of the Windows 8 tablet fun?

      @Mokusatsu "But unlike an iPad, it will be capable of running OneNote, it will have a proper stylus digitiser .. I'll be able to save any kind of file from the internet, I can print with it, I can use USB peripherals etc."

      1) An iPad won't run OneNote, but neither will W8 on an ARM chip.

      2) You can save "any kind of file from the internet" using an iPad: you can even save most Microsoft formats with apps like Print2PDF.

      3) An iPad will print wirelessly to any AirPrint enabled printer and almost any printer at all that's attached to a Mac.

      4) Standard USB peripherals cannot run with any tablet, because the USB specification requires the device (iPad or tablet) to provide power to the peripherals and battery-powered devices aren't going to have enough power to meet the USB specification for a long time.

      iPads can read data *from* many USB devices (e.g.cameras) and they can display data on any HDMI screen or TV. These things can be done with a $50 USB/HDMI/SD card adapter.

      You can also buy full sized, wireless, BlueTooth keyboards for perhaps $60. Alternatively, you can get a docking station with a standard display and keyboard that will also charge your iPad as you use it. (This is a surprisingly popular option.)

      Given all this, and given that you're not short of money, I'm not sure what you want to do that an iPad cannot already do. If you want to connect a USB-based gas chromatograph then the problem will be getting drivers for the ARM-based hardware, whether you're using iOS or W8. For everything else, fast (802.11n) WiFi seems fine to me. What can you connect with USB that you can't connect with WiFi apart from cheap backup disks? (iCloud provides a excellent and cheap backup and file transfer service.)

      At this point, people using bring up Microsoft Office, but Office is (in the opinion of most who have actually tried both) inferior in many ways to Apple's iWork suite on OS X and iOS.

      Finally, I imagine next month's iPad 3 will have a decent camera, giving you an instant document scanner/OCR system like the iPhone 4S.