More than a dozen Windows 8 tablets with processors from Intel will hit stores in November, according to a report from CNET.
At least half of those devices will be hybrids that can transform from a tablet into a laptop with a physical keyboard, CNET’s unnamed “source familiar with the device makers’ plans” said. Intel has already revealed a reference design for one type of hybrid, with a sliding hinge that lets the laptop collapse into touch screen slab. We may also see some other designs, like Lenovo’s back-flipping Yoga.
Microsoft hasn’t announced a release date for Windows 8, but reports from Bloomberg and elsewhere hint at an October launch. Windows 8 is a major overhaul that allows for tablet apps and a touch-friendly “Start” screen, which replaces the pop-up programs list of previous Windows versions. The traditional desktop is still there, but it’s represented as just one app among many within the new interface.
Windows 8 will support processors based on ARM architecture–the same low-power chips that power most smartphones and tablets. But devices that run chips by Intel and AMD have their own advantage: They’ll be able to run desktop software, including applications designed for older versions of Windows. ARM-based Windows tablets, which will run a separate version of the software called Windows RT, won’t be backwards-compatible.
Intel’s challenge, then, is to offer processors that are as speedy as ARM-based chips without sacrificing too much battery life. The devices described by CNET’s source will all run on Intel’s “Clover Trail” chip, an evolution of the processors that power today’s netbooks. However, tablets based on Intel’s more powerful Ivy Bridge platform may also be available.
I’ve yet to see either of those chips in action on a Windows 8 tablet, but I’m hopeful that Intel can pull it off. Part of Windows 8′s allure is that it can still act like a traditional PC when needed, but ARM-based devices won’t have that capability. If more than a dozen Intel-based Windows 8 tablets are on the way, hopefully at least one of them can get it right.