There’s been no shortage of speculation about how much Windows 8 tablets will cost, but Lenovo looks like the first to give some solid estimates.
Windows RT is the version of Microsoft’s operating system that runs on ARM-based processors–the same kind that appear in most phones and tablets, including Apple’s iPad. Compared to Windows 8 tablets, whose processors will come from Intel and AMD, Windows RT devices will likely be thinner, lighter and more power-efficient on average. According to Lenovo, they’ll be a lot cheaper as well.
However, only Windows 8 will be able to run legacy desktop software, whereas Windows RT will rely on apps from the Windows Store, a walled garden similar to Apple’s iOS App Store. It’ll have a desktop, but only for a few built-in applications, such as File Explorer, Internet Explorer and a special version of Office 2013.
“RT will play in consumer and retail at very aggressive price points,” Schmoock told Bloomberg. Windows 8 tablets, he said, will be aimed at corporations who still need legacy software.
Though the possibility of $300 to $400 Windows RT tablets is intriguing–and more believable than that $200 Surface tablet rumor–I’m more interested to see what happens in the $600 to $700 space for Windows 8 slates. I don’t think it’s a given that consumers will gravitate toward Windows RT. Rather, it’s one of the biggest unanswered questions about Microsoft’s next operating system.
To me, one of the main value propositions with Windows 8 is the ability to take all your old software along. Even if the Windows Store gets a ton of great apps, sometimes there’s no good replacement for desktop software, stuff like Photoshop and iTunes. Also, only Windows 8 will be able to run third-party browsers such as Chrome and Firefox on the desktop. Will consumers be so quick to let all of that go–and to do so with a Windows RT tablet instead of an iPad? I’m not so sure.
If Lenovo’s price ranges hold true for most Windows 8 tablets, that’s good news. A price of $600 to $700 is still in the same ballpark as the iPad, and that’s essentially for two devices in one. PC makers shouldn’t be so quick to think only businesses would be interested in that.