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PC Makers Lift Lid on Windows 8 Machines

A number of Windows 8-dedicated devices made their debut at the huge Asian computer show, Computex, in June.

One of the biggest computer hardware events on the tech calendar is Computex in Taiwan. For the Microsoft channel, this year's June event took on added importance because it served as a coming-out party for the hardware to support Windows 8 and Windows Runtime (WinRT).

For now, the OSes are in the release preview, final test stage, with expectations for release to manufacturing at the end of July. Because Microsoft has taken a touch-first approach to the design of Windows 8, the devices created for it by OEMs are nearly as important as the OS itself for the success of the new platform.

"As we head into Windows 8 the ecosystem is coming together to deliver solutions, the kinds of which we've never seen before, and the likes of which are truly no-compromise and really are delivering a Windows re-imagined world," said Steve Guggenheimer, Microsoft corporate vice president of the OEM Division, in his Computex keynote.

While no devices are on the market yet, Guggenheimer was able to offer Computex attendees an on-stage tour of real Windows 8/WinRT hardware. "These are samples of some of the designs that are being worked on for launch," he explained. "This is truly a subset of what's going on in the industry. There are many, many more machines that are being built that aren't here today."

His tour covered large-screen all-in-one PCs, non-touch laptops, touch-screen laptops, x86-based tablets and System on a Chip (SoC) tablets, mostly identified by vendor only rather than model name. He showed off all-in-ones from Samsung, ASUSTeK Computer Inc. (Asus) and Lenovo, and a hinged model from Acer Inc. Guggenheimer highlighted non-touch laptops for Windows 8 from Hewlett-Packard Co., Asus and Acer, as well as a Sony VAIO, a Dell XPS and a Toshiba with a 21-by-9-inch screen. He had touch-enabled laptops from Asus and Acer, and tablets from Lenovo, Samsung, Fujitsu, Asus and Acer.

Some of the manufacturers made their own announcements about Windows 8 in Taiwan.

Acer announced new all-in-one PCs, including the 27-inch Aspire 7600U and the 23-inch Aspire 5600U, which were described as ultra-slim device types running Windows 8. Other Acer Windows 8 devices announced include the Aspire S7 Series of ultrabooks, which will come in 13.3-inch and 11.6-inch sizes. A third line of Windows 8 Acer devices is represented by the Iconia W Series of tablets, including the W510 (with a 10.1-inch display) and the W700 (with an 11.6-inch display).

A report by DigiTimes cited Acer Chairman JT Wang as indicating that Windows 8-based products likely would be sold primarily in "developed economies where purchasing power is strong." The implication was that Windows 8 devices would not be cheap, but no pricing was described.

Asus introduced its Transformer product line at Computex, including an 11.6-inch Tablet 810 running Windows 8 and the 10.1-inch Tablet 600 running WinRT. The company also announced its Taichi line, which has dual screens to serve as a multitouch tablet and ultrabook computer, presumably running either Windows 7 or Windows 8.

Dell announced a new line of Inspiron laptops running Windows 7 that can be upgraded to Windows 8. The models, slated for release this summer, include the Inspiron 13z and 14z ultrathin laptops aimed at the back-to-school market and the Inspiron 15R and 17R laptops for multimedia and home applications.

Toshiba announced it has created three new Windows 8 PCs. One of them is an Intel-based Windows 8 ultrabook. Another is a WinRT-based clamshell PC using a Texas Instruments chip. Finally, Toshiba has another WinRT tablet that features a keyboard dock that was designed in partnership with Texas Instruments.

In another Computex keynote, Intel Corp. Senior Vice President Tom Kilroy provided an update on ultrabooks, which are key for both Windows 7 and Windows 8, and "Clover Trail," Intel's forthcoming 32nm SoC designed for Microsoft Windows 8.

Kilroy said more than 35 ultrabook systems are either available or will be available in the next 30 days. He said more than 110 designs are expected in the next year. On the Windows 8 side, Kilroy said touch-capable ultrabooks will hit the market later this year. As for Clover Trail, Intel is claiming 20 design wins in slate, convertible and other designs.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.