Windows 8, RT Ecosystem Is Already Drawing in OEMs to Challenge Apple

NEWS ANALYSIS: Microsoft won't be the only vendor to produce Windows RT and Windows 8 tablets when the operating system goes into general release Oct. 26. New mobile computers that may be Apple's biggest challenge are already on the way into production.

Despite the histrionics on Aug. 5 by Acer chairman J.T. Wang regarding Microsoft's plans to produce its Surface tablet to run Windows RT and Windows 8, other OEMs are moving ahead with plans to introduce their own models on the same day that Microsoft announces Windows 8 and releases the Surface tablet.

According to an MSDN blog entry by Microsoft's Steven Sinofsky, and partially written by Microsoft's Mike Angiulo, Lenovo, Dell, Samsung and Asus are gearing up to ship these devices.

Even Acer's Wang has backpedaled and has decided that it's OK if Microsoft makes a tablet, as long as it's not too cheap. I'm sure this is a huge comfort to Steve Ballmer. In addition to naming some of the makers of the new Windows RT tablets, the Microsoft blog released some additional information about Windows 8 RT. For example, Windows 8 RT will share a common Windows binary for Nvidia, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments ARM processors, which should make updates vastly easier than say, Android. It will also avoid the fragmentation problems that plague Android users.

Asus has already announced its Asus Tablet 600 with Windows RT. The Asus quad-core Tegra 3 device comes with 32GB of storage and a 10.1-inch display. About the only thing it's missing to compete with the iPad is a Retina display. Lenovo, meanwhile, has announced its Tablet 2 with Windows 8. There's apparently also a Windows RT tablet coming from Lenovo, according to ABC News. It flips open all the way to form a tablet called the Yoga.

While the Windows RT tablets are still early in their respective development, it appears that if Microsoft achieved one thing, it was to set a standard for engineering quality in its tablet line. Unlike the chaos that reigns in the Android world where tablets range in quality from exceptional to impossibly lousy, Microsoft wanted to take control of the Windows RT ecosystem from the beginning. It did that by producing the Surface, which seems to be an elegantly designed, well-built example of tablet hardware.

As a result, companies such as Acer, which have been known (by the CEO's own admission) to build substandard hardware, don't seem to have earned a place at the Windows RT table. Instead, the quality standard, plus the single binary, seem geared to ensure that the problems of Android don't overtake the Windows RT world, while also ensuring that the customer experience will remain high when the new tablets come out.

It's worth noting that Microsoft is collaborating with the hardware OEMs that are building the devices that will be competing with the Surface. While Microsoft will be selling the Surface actively, unlike Apple's approach with the iPad and iPhone, it's not keeping the device to itself. Instead, Microsoft is helping a number of other companies build comparable devices.

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash is a freelance writer and editor with a 35 year history covering technology. He’s a frequent speaker on business, technology issues and enterprise computing. He covers Washington and...