Intel has confirmed that the first tablets based on its Oak Trail platform will be available starting in May. The timing was first reported by the site PC Advisor, but an Intel spokesperson confirmed it earlier today.
The company will most likely use Computex 2011, which starts May 31, to formally introduce Oak Trail and show off some of the first tablets. This would be appropriate since Intel first revealed Oak Trail--along with several other Atom-based products--at the same show last year.
The Oak Trail platform includes an Atom CPU, code-named Lincroft, and a supporting chipset known as Whitney Point. It is designed to support tablets running Windows 7, MeeGo and "Google's operating systems," which presumably refers to Android, but it does not sound like Oak Trail will support Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) out of the gate. Intel has not announced the name of the processor, but numerous sites have mentioned the Atom Z670 and several device makers including Fujitsu, Lenovo and Samsung have previously mentioned upcoming products using that chip.
The Oak Trail-based tablets will enter a market that is growing more crowded virtually by the day. Several companies including Asus, Dell and LG Electronics are set to follow Motorola and release Android 3.0 tablets this month (What's happened to Honeycomb?). RIM will also release the WiFi-only version of the PlayBook on April 19 and HP will roll out its first webOS-based TouchPad in June. All of these are hoping to ride the coattails of Apple's iPad 2. There's a lot of debate about whether or not that will work.
Microsoft has said it won't ship an operating system truly optimized for tablets until Windows 8 arrives most likely in late 2012, but Asus insists that there is real demand for Windows 7 slates. Others aren't so sure that just because people want iPads, they will buy tablets running other operating systems too.