Microsoft Says It's Working Well With OEMs on Windows 8 Tablets

Despite Acer's public grumbling about Microsoft introducing its own Surface tablet, Microsoft has said that it is working closely with hardware OEMs that are planning to introduce Windows 8 tablets now that the new OS has been released to manufacturers.

Microsoft has released details of the work it is doing with OEMs on tablet and desktop PCs running Windows 8 and Windows RT-apparently to show that OEMs are unfazed by Microsoft's plan to compete against them with its own Surface tablet, despite opposition expressed publicly by Acer.

In a blog post Aug. 13 discussing the release to manufacturing (RTM) of Windows 8 that occurred Aug. 1, Mike Angiulo, vice president of Microsoft's Ecosystem and Planning team, noted how OEMs like Asus and Lenovo have already released specs of their upcoming tablets.

Asus' Tablet 600 will run Windows RT, the new OS designed for ARM-based processors. The Tablet 600 will run Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core central processing units (CPUs) and a 12-core graphics processing unit (GPU). It will have an external keyboard where the tablet can plug in, making it look and operate like a laptop. The keyboard can be disconnected so the device operates like a tablet with a virtual keyboard. The Asus tablet premieres Oct. 26, the same date as the OS goes on sale.

Lenovo is developing the ThinkPad Tablet 2, which will run Windows 8 Pro, the version of the new OS for the x86-based processor platform. It will run an Intel Atom-based processor and, like the Asus product, feature a 10.1-inch diagonal screen. The new ThinkPad will also support multiple input methods: multi-finger touch and an optional digitizer and pen, which Lenovo says is especially good for note-taking and capturing signatures on documents.

Samsung is developing the Series 7 Windows 8 tablet. This reporter and other journalists are trying out preview versions of the Series 7 that include the new Microsoft Office productivity software suite.

Dell hasn't been specific about its hardware plans so far, but in Angiulo's post, a Dell executive does confirm it will be developing a Windows RT-based product.

"Dell's tablet for Windows RT is going to take advantage of the capabilities the new ecosystem offers to help customers do more at work and home," stated Sam Burd, vice president of the Dell PC Product Group. "We're excited to be Microsoft's strategic partner, and look forward to sharing more soon."

The Asus, Lenovo, Samsung and Dell plans come amid some grumbling among OEMs about Microsoft competing against them by unveiling the Surface. Microsoft has made both the hardware and software for the tablet, which is due out Oct. 26.

The CEO of Acer, J.T. Wang, urged Microsoft to "think twice" before going into the device business in competition with its OEM partners. Shortly after Microsoft unveiled the Surface, running Windows RT, HP announced it was abandoning plans to build a Windows RT tablet of its own, though it will develop a Windows 8 Pro device.

In his post, Angiulo stressed the way Microsoft and the OEMs are collaborating along with processor makers and other partners.

"Our engineering collaboration on these Windows RT PCs has been strong," he wrote. "The uniqueness of our approach starts with a new way of working across partners to engineer a PC-a collaboration that brings the best of all parties together to deliver end-to-end experiences that are integrated and optimized."