When I exclusively revealed that Toshiba was among the Microsoft hardware partners planning to release devices based on Windows RT, the ARM-based variant of Windows 8, I might have forced the firm’s hand: Toshiba announced just hours later that it would be focusing on Windows 8 for the fall launch period and would revisit Windows RT at a later time. The reason? Concerns about component availability.
“Toshiba has decided not to introduce Windows RT models due to delayed components that would make a timely launch impossible,” a Toshiba statement attributed to a spokesperson reads. “For the time being, Toshiba will focus on bringing Windows 8 products to market. We will continue to look into the possibility of Windows RT products in the future while monitoring market conditions.”
The move leaves ASUS, Dell, Lenovo, Samsung, and Vizio—and, of course, Microsoft—as the sole known hardware makers that will offer Windows RT devices during the October/November launch period. (Vizio was another exclusive from that previously cited article.) According to documentation I’ve viewed, these manufacturers will each release just one Windows RT-based product during this time. (Toshiba was planning to deliver two RT-based products.) By comparison, Intel recently revealed that at least 20 Intel-based Windows 8 tablets will ship in this time frame.
Toshiba joins HP in at least temporarily skipping over Windows RT, the unproven Windows 8 version that can’t run existing Windows applications but should offer superior battery life and ship with smaller and thinner form factors. HP announced in June that it would focus on Windows 8, not Windows RT, at least for the short term.
In related news, various gadget blogs are reporting that Microsoft’s Windows RT-based Surface tablets will sell for just $199. This fanciful price is an impossibility, given that other Windows RT-based tablets will sell in the same price range as Apple’s iPad. As a reminder, the iPad starts at $499 and goes past $800, depending on the model.
But regardless of price, HP—unlike Acer, which has been very negative about Microsoft’s hardware entry—says it couldn’t care less that Microsoft is selling its own tablets. “Our relationship has not changed at all due to Microsoft’s announcement,” HP Senior Vice President John Solomon told CRN. “In fact, I applaud it. I think it’s great that they are getting out in front and showing what’s possible.”