PC manufacturers are already taking it on the chin with Microsoft's announcement of its own Surface tablets -- which will put the company in the awkward position of competing against the same hardware partners that stick Windows in their computers -- but now they may be facing an additional problem with their slates.
According to our sister site CNET, hardware makers looking to build tablets that use the new Microsoft Windows RT are running into difficulties getting the new OS to work with ARM chips. As this is the first time a flavor of Windows is equipped to work with the ARM platform instead of just x86-based chips, this wouldn't come as a total surprise, but it comes on top of HP's decision last week to scrap its Windows RT tablets.
CNET's report would seem to conflict with my colleague John Morris' report last week from Qualcomm's Uplinq developer conference. At that event, Qualcomm's CEO Paul Jacobs declared that the ARM-based Snapdragon processor will indeed be powering Windows RT devices at launch later this year, which would seem to belie the rumors that Qualcomm, along with Texas Instruments, will be delayed in their rollouts. Even if the chip makers can deliver on time, they have been limited by Microsoft to just a couple of device designs apiece, which could include a laptop or hybrid tablet/laptop system.
The biggest winner in all of the Windows 8-related tablet skirmishes may be Nvidia, which will be supplying its Tegra 3 processor to the Surface RT slate, and could be ahead of its competitors in getting its chip to play nicely with Windows RT thanks to its long-time experience with Windows driver design, according to Patrick Moorhead, president of Moor Insights & Strategy. Somehow the graphics chip giant has managed to successfully pivot into being the mobile chip provider that Intel probably wishes it were.