Windows 8

Quad-core Windows 8 tablets could come to developers this fall

A new report suggests that Microsoft is close to having a build of Windows 8 running on quad-core tablet hardware, and it may soon give away units to developers.

Microsoft is starting to make some ecosystem rumblings in the tablet space. We already know that Microsoft plans to use Windows 8 as its tablet platform and that Windows 8 is likely to land in the real world during the middle of 2012. Reports out of Tech Ed New Zealand on Thursday suggested that Microsoft is close to having a Windows 8 build running on unspecified quad-core tablet hardware that could arrive in the hands of developers as early as next month.

IT consultant Alan Burchill, a Microsoft MVP and Tech Ed 2011 NZ attendee, posted a short report and a few photos of the hardware that Microsoft teased the audience with. Burchill's original post included a line that referred to the tablet as a "Quad Core Windows Slate that will be give(n) out at an upcoming Microsoft Event." However, he later removed that reference. Obviously, since he has close ties to Microsoft, it's conceivable that Microsoft asked him to remove the give-away part but didn't ask him to take down the post.

The "upcoming Microsoft Event" that Burchill was referring to would likely be Microsoft BUILD on September 13-16 in Anaheim, California. The conference is focused on Windows hardware and software developers and is generally expected to be Microsoft's coming out party to get its partners started on developing devices and apps for Windows 8 (see preview on the right).

The big question from Burchill's report is what's the quad-core processor that's running this Windows 8 tablet? There are no quad-core mobile chips on the market yet and I have to believe that Microsoft won't make the same mistake of trying to run another tablet with a laptop processor. The battery life just isn't good enough.

NVIDIA, Qualcomm, and Texas Instruments each announced quad-core mobile chips earlier this year and promised that they'd arrive before the end of 2011. This spring, I got a report from a very reliable source close to NVIDIA that it had a big quad-core announcement involving a tablet that would come sometime around August. Also, since NVIDIA was the first of the big three ARM chipmakers to announce quad-core, the smart money is on NVIDIA powering this Windows 8 tablet. Remember, Microsoft announced at CES 2011 that Windows 8 would run on ARM processors in addition to the traditional x86.

Whoever makes the processor is, it looks like developers could soon be getting their hands on a Windows 8 build running on zippy mobile hardware. The timeframe makes sense. If these tablets do show up at BUILD, we'll quickly start to know how much potential these Windows 8 "slates" are going to have.

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Jason Hiner is the Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He is an award-winning journalist who writes about the people, products, and ideas that are revolutionizing the ways we live and work in the 21st century.

12 comments
birumut
birumut

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lenb
lenb

I am typing this on my good old Toshiba laptop tablet with the swivel screen. I like it a lot for its utility as a laptop and for the writing I can do on the screen with the pen when it is swiveled. But, the future of this machine is uncertain. I would like to buy another but I am not sure where the whole tablet thing is going. Anybody have any ideas? Len

DomainName
DomainName

I can only imagine what the battery life is like on a quad core tablet

charles
charles

Designing apps for some of the newer tablet OS's is cool and there are quite a few real jobs available now for tablet software developers but as an independent developer I find it difficult to have to optimize my apps for each OS iteration. Microsoft has proven that it can create world class tools, very good documentation and a standard UI experience that exhibits very little fragmentation. So I'm actually looking forward to their announcement.

MikeGall
MikeGall

Is it just me or has every recent OS added more fluff? Ex. OS X Lion added LaunchPad which makes your apps look like you are picking them from an iPhone it looks like the start screen for Win 8 is going the same route. Sure phones are relatively speaking easy to use but when I'm using a desktop OS I want data, a desktop etc to be the first thing I see not a bunch of buttons to chose which program I want to run. That said probably nice for tablets with touch screens and such. I suspect that MS will provide a "classic" startup option still the trend towards everything having to look like an iPhone ripoff is annoying.

rhonin
rhonin

details on this. I for one am looking forward to Win8 tablets. I currently use a i4 and Nexus smart phones but have started looking at Win7 phones and have been impressed with what I am seeing.... Win8.... looks like it will be a good OS

adornoe
adornoe

with their computers and gadgets than the normal everyday user. But, a quad-core will be common in the future, and Microsoft is right to be targeting the future multi-core platforms. Even the iPads and other tablets will be upgraded to more powerful chips and more storage and more connectivity and more ports, etc. The battery life will have to be improved, and I wouldn't worry too much if initially, the Windows 8 tablets didn't have a battery life beyond 6 hours. That would be plenty for most of a day of "work".

Gadget Gurus
Gadget Gurus

I'm having trouble getting excited about Tablet computers and Windows Tiles interface.

RobertMoore12
RobertMoore12

I would love to get one of these to try windows instead of android. I currently have an android but its battery isn't the best. I could test out apps on win 8 at the same time since it will be the future.

MikeGall
MikeGall

Other than long flights I haven't seen the need for all the battery life hype. As long as I can get a few hours on the road work done I'm fine. If you are using it for work you should have a charging connector/dock at your office and home. Problem solved.

rhonin
rhonin

I travel a lot and coast to coast is common. I find having great battery life is a real bonus. If a device I will use enroute I will try to ensure it has 8+ hours of battery life for normal use. Smartphones - have a portable battry pack/charger from XtremeMac ASUS Transformer and iPad2 both get 8+ ASUS UL gets 10+ Hoping the Win8 tablet gets the same range. :)

MikeGall
MikeGall

However for most people that is a very rare occurrence. Offering a larger battery option for those that want it makes more sense to me since you are ultimately paying for that larger battery regardless of if the device never goes more than 2 hrs without being docked. Really what should be done is every airline should have charging at the seats. Some do, some don't you never know until you are on the plane which is annoying. I'd rather have charging than the inflight movie as often it is a bunch of crap I don't want to watch where as the majority of people have a device or two to entertain themselves with all they need is juice. Also, why can't you find a plug (at least I've never in the 10 or so airports I've been in) near the seats? To me they could have a outlet in the ground between 4 seats say (two facing one way too the other way with the backs together. You could plug in and you wouldn't have to worry about cords dragging across the floor etc because it would be under that particular persons chair. To me it is just a huge opportunity to add a much nicer experience for travels at a few cents each in cost.

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