Microsoft confirms cheaper Windows 8 mini-tablets coming 'in months'

Microsoft confirms cheaper Windows 8 mini-tablets coming 'in months'

Summary: Will the new lineup of cheaper, smaller Windows 8 tablets bridge that touch gap between PCs and Windows Phone handsets?

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Microsoft has confirmed smaller, cheaper Windows 8 touch-enabled devices from OEM partners will be available within months.

On a call with analysts to discuss yesterday's Q3 results, Peter Klein, Microsoft's chief financial officer, said consumers should expect to see more Windows 8 touch devices across more attractive price points.

"[W]e also are working closely with OEMs on a new suite of small touch devices powered by Windows. These devices will have competitive price points, partly enabled by our latest OEM offerings designed specifically for these smaller devices, and will be available in the coming months."

The forthcoming devices follow last month's changes to the Windows 8 certification guidelines for OEMs, which permitted smaller resolution displays suited to the popular 7-inch tablet market.

The move to smaller touch devices appeared to be on the cards back in February when Microsoft's new Windows co-chief Tami Reller told ZDNet the company was still trying to figure out why OEMs had been slow to build touch-enabled devices that took advantage of Windows 8.

Klein said the range of touch-enabled devices that take full advantage of Windows 8 was beginning to improve. On Best Buy, for example, there are over 20 Windows 8 or Windows RT tablets available — however, none are below $450.

The move to smaller tablets may also benefit Microsoft's Windows Phone platform, which Klein said was continuing to show momentum, pointing 10 percent share in some markets. However, he conceded there was "a lot of work ahead to break through in some key markets".

On Nokia's own Q1 call with analysts yesterday, Nokia chief Stephen Elop said that Microsoft, the Finnish company and operators were planning to boost marketing budgets to support Windows Phone.

But Microsoft's separate but massive Windows 8 marketing efforts were having limited value for Windows Phone. Elop said that Microsoft's Windows 8 marketing campaign was "positive" for Lumia, since it educated consumers about the concept of Live Tiles common to Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8. However, Elop also noted that the shortage of touch devices had posed some challenges. 

"It will be helpful when there are more touch devices in the market to support that," Elop said. 

Topics: Tablets, Nokia, Windows 8, Windows Phone

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

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68 comments
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  • I hope it regular Windows and not RT

    And I hope it does not boot to Metro and I hope the Start button is back.
    Tim Jordan
    • Regular windows

      ...And you are going to run a desktop software on a 7 inches screen ? RT is the only system that makes sens on 7 inches Windows ultra-mobile.
      gbouchard99@...
      • Well...

        Windows8 does everything WindowsRT does, but gives the user the option to go to the desktop as well as the metro UI.

        If the pricing is close enough between an ARM cpu for WindowsRT and an Atom cpu for Windows, I don't see any benefit to microsoft using windowsRT on thise device. Unless they offer a tablet for each operating system.


        Lets face it. People are always going to ask if they can load their desktop programs on these devices. If not, then WindowsRT just doesn't have the apps to compete against android and iOS right now.
        Emacho
        • Then how does the "low cost" part come in?

          A cheaper Windows Pro tablet?
          William Farrel
          • Thats what I was thinking also. Consider the current Windows tablets

            These are the "best" of each category I could find right now

            WindowsRT tablets:
            1 most affordable standalone tablet
            Dell XPS 10: $450 (32gb)
            2 Tablet with keyboard case
            SurfaceRT: $499 (32gb) :: $629 with keyboard cover
            3 Tablet with keyboard dock
            Asus Vivotab RT: $600 with keyboard dock (32gb)

            Windows8 tablets
            1 most affordable standalone tablet
            Acer w500: $399 (32gb)
            2 Tablet with keyboard case
            Asus Vivotab smart: $499 (64gb) :: $629 with keyboard cover
            3 Tablet with keyboard dock
            HP Envy x2: $599 with keyboard dock (64gb)


            For whatever reason the ARM based tablets are inferior choices to the Intel based choices. Price and/or system specs. I'm just making an assumption based on that, but if OEMs can do that with the larger tablets it makes sense they could do it with smaller tablets as well.
            Emacho
    • Couple of points...

      1. These mini tablets will most likely be ARM, not x86
      1. Windows 8 doesn't run on ARM meaning these tablets will probably be Windows RT or Windows Phone based
      2. Even if Windows 8 did run on ARM OR they enabled desktop on Windows RT, please explain how you will use the desktop with the Start button on a 7-8" tablet
      statuskwo5
      • Ummm, the most compelling feature of Windows 8....

        How are you going to use the desktop on a 7 inch display? You won't. You'll use the Metro UI, and then when you plug it into a dock connected to a monitor, you'll switch to the desktop mode. That is, after all, the most compelling aspect of Windows 8 - that it can be used both in a basic tablet mode AND as a full desktop OS capable of running all your existing programs.
        PC987
        • Intel Atom quad core and windows 8 is windows xp on steroids...

          intel atom can do it and it desktop mode looks good still in 7 inches even though fonts really small...
          Peter Ni Shella Garcia
        • I use the desktop now on a four inch display.

          Or whatever size the iPhone 5 is. Using iTeleport (formerly Jaadu RDP) I am able to use my Windows machines remotely. So using the desktop on a 7 inch display is not beyond the realm of possibility.
          PepperdotNet
          • 'I am able to use my Windows machines remotely'

            BARELY.

            The desktop is simply not broadly usable on a 7" screen.
            bitcrazed
          • Sounds like another familiar forcast about 7 inch tablets

            What was is Steve Jobs said about them....
            Emacho
      • new processeros

        these are intel developed new processers
        Mac_Win
      • bet?

        I'm reasonably certain that they will be ATOM devices and run regular Win8. RT is a basic fondle slab competitor. Win8 is what will be useful to the majority with Windows experience.
        mswift@...
        • Only place for RT is on a phone with a small screen

          Everything else can run Win8.

          I have an Acer W511 (with 3G) and it is great to be able to just go into the home network.

          Even RT would be much simpler in this regard compared to Android and iOS.
          Patanjali
      • Also

        3. Even if it was x86... this is the prime time when you DONT want it to go near the desktop. hold on there while I try hit the close X on a 7"... only way it would work is if they made the desktop SUPER finger friendly which would be great and all but every other desktop would suffer
        Skunkwurx
    • A sub-10" screen will not support the Windows desktop.

      Just look at Netbook sales (Atom processor, 1-2GB RAM, 10" screen) for $200 to $300 compared to Notebook sales (Dual-core, 4GB RAM, 15" screen) for $350 to see that the Windows desktop s barely usable at "10. It would be hopeless at 7". These devices will have rely on the Metro interface.
      M Wagner
      • I agree a sub-10" screen...

        ...is pretty useless for desktop applications...BUT...because Windows 8 gives you both desktop and tablet functionality, I can easily see a sub-10" device being used solely for consumption while undocked, but then plugging in an external monitor and Bluetooth keyboard and mouse and providing a full desktop computing experience. Pretty cool me thinks.
        jmagzdnet
        • Not to mention the comparative ease of using the home network

          at any size of screen.
          Patanjali
    • Re: I hope it regular Windows and not RT

      Ah, don't you just love Microsoft fragmentation...
      ldo17
      • Yeah - they're getting as bad as Apple

        Oh well, what can one do....
        William Farrel