Microsoft says the final version of Windows 8 will be available by the end of October, along with the first PCs running Windows 8 and Windows RT. The company will release Windows 8 to hardware makers (RTM, as they say) in the first week of August, and will let app developers start charging for their wares at the same time.
In the past, new versions of Windows meant new laptops and desktops. But to go along with Windows 8’s touch-friendly interface, PC makers will be launching tablets, touchscreen laptops and hybrid devices as well. Here’s a rundown of the most interesting Windows 8 PCs we’ve heard about so far:
Microsoft stunned the tech world last month with plans to build its own Windows 8 tablets, collectively known as “Surface.” We’re still waiting on all the details, but the design looks promising, with a built-in stand and a slim screen cover that doubles as a keyboard (as pictured above). The Windows RT version, which runs on the same type of processor as the iPad and other tablets, will launch around the same time as Windows 8 (so, presumably in October). A thicker and heavier version running Windows 8 Pro, with support for legacy Windows software, is coming 90 days later. No word on pricing yet.
Acer Iconia W510
Acer’s Iconia W510 is a Windows 8 tablet that connects to a rather interesting laptop dock. When the dock’s keyboard and trackpad are facing up, the W510 acts like a laptop, but flip it over, and the tablet swivels around into a presentation stand, with the screen facing out from the front. The W510 has a 10.1-inch, 1920-by-1080 resolution display, and will run an Intel processor with support for legacy Windows software. Acer hasn’t announced a price or release date yet.
Asus Transformer AiO
If today’s tablets are too small for you, consider the Asus Transformer AiO, an all-in-one PC with a detachable 18.4-inch touch screen. When separated from the base, the gigantic tablet runs a standalone version of Android, but it can also use a remote desktop connection to access Windows 8 over a local network. Asus isn’t talking price or release date now, but my guess is “quite a lot” and “not for a while,” respectively.
HP “Slate 8″
HP has been quiet about its Windows 8 tablet plans so far, but a report by Neowin suggests a slick first effort. While most Intel-based Windows 8 tablets will be a bit chunky, the so-called Slate 8 will measure just 0.36 inches thick–a hair thinner than Apple’s new iPad–and weigh about 1.5 pounds, according to a leaked product rendering. And despite the slim figure, the Slate 8 will reportedly get between 8 and 10 hours of battery life. Now all we need is an official announcement to make this thing real.
Asus Tablet 600
One of the few Windows RT computers announced so far, the Asus Tablet 600 is essentially a Windows version of the company’s popular Transformer Android tablet series. The tablet has a 10.1-inch, 1366-by-768 resolution display and an Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core processor; it turns into a laptop with a keyboard and trackpad dock, an extra USB port and an extended battery. You know the drill: No price or release date just yet. (Asus is also working on Intel-based versions of the same concept. The Tablet 810 will have an Atom processor and an 11.6-inch display, and the Transformer Book will have Intel Core processors, discrete graphics and screen sizes of 11.6 inches, 13 inches and 14 inches.)
Nokia Mystery Tablet
Okay, so Nokia hasn’t announced a Windows 8 tablet, but there have been rumors, and former chairman Jorma Ollila has promised that the company is planning to launch a range of tablets. Nokia’s Lumia 800 is one of the best-looking Windows Phones yet, and I’m interested to see the company carry those design chops over to larger touch screens.