Microsoft Surface Tablet Puts Pressure on Dell, HP - Page 2

And King says CEO Whitman has said publicly that HP plans to bring out both x86- and ARM-based processors to coincide with the launch of Windows 8. HP declined to confirm that or comment for this story.

Given the recent setbacks in its tablet strategy, HP should consider itself on notice, said King.

"I think the company's got something to prove with Windows 8," he said. "As to the rumors about the spinoff or sale of PSG, I'm assuming that the folks in the engineering group will take that as a challenge to really deliver the goods when the Windows 8 devices come out this fall."

As for Dell, its tablet lineup consists of a Windows 7-based Latitude XT tablet, said Dell spokeswoman Ellen Murphy in an email. Dell introduced the Inspiron duo in late 2010 as a "convertible" that could be turned one way to make it a tablet, and another to make it into a traditional laptop. But it was discontinued last spring, Murphy said, without further explanation.

"We plan on offering a Windows-based tablet targeted towards enterprise customers when Windows 8 is available," she stated.

For Dell, as well as HP and the other OEMs, the Microsoft Surface introduction does give them an opportunity to aim for a midmarket tablet offering.

"[The Surface] is kind of a Lexus product, it's going to be pricey, and so there's still a Toyota market that these guys could play in if they can figure out how to do it," said Rob Enderle, principal analyst with Enderle Group.

While pricing for the Surface hasn't been disclosed, Enderle expects it to be pricey given the technology that goes into one of its coolest features, the optical display. Not to be confusing, but the display is based on Microsoft developed technology called "Surface," which has been used for a number of years on table-size interactive displays.

The display can actually "read" material shown in front of it, such as a business card or a photo, and images can be moved around the display area using hand gestures. Enderle couldn't say positively, but he believes that a Microsoft Surface display has a featured role on the TV series "Hawaii Five-O" where agents stand around a table at their headquarters and look at mug shots of suspects, maps, crime photos and other documents as they conduct their investigations.

His point is that the optical display intended for the Surface tablets is going to be expensive, but it's made by Samsung and that OEM could potentially use it in any Windows 8 tablets it may make. But the others might choose another type of display to lower their prices.