Nvidia, Microsoft To Distribute Windows 8 Test Tablets


Nvidia said Wednesday it is partnering with Microsoft to start a new distribution program that will put Windows 8 test tablets powered by its Tegra 3 mobile processors in the hands of device manufactures and software developers interested in the new OS.

The chip maker said the distribution program is intended to arm developers with the tools they need to create a rich application ecosystem for Microsoft’s next-gen OS, running on ARM-based architectures.

"NVIDIA has a long record of supporting software developers working on the cutting edge of innovation," said Tony Tamasi, senior vice president of content and technology at NVIDIA, in a statement. "We’re furthering this tradition by helping to realize the extraordinary potential of Windows on ARM processors, like Tegra 3."

[Related: Microsoft Windows 8 News]

Nvidia spokesperson Ken Brown told CRN that the test tablets being distributed are 10.1 inches in length, with a screen resolution of 1366 by 768. No further specs are being disclosed at this time, he said.

Microsoft has not revealed exactly how many test units will be shipped, Brown said, but noted that the software giant will seed a "substantial quantity." Recipients of the test tablets are also being withheld.

Nvidia’s announcement comes on the heels of Microsoft launching a Windows 8 Consumer Preview at the Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona Wednesday morning. The company said the latest preview version of the OS is now available for download, and showcased a range of tablets and flat screens running the Windows 8 Preview OS.

The devices on display were fueled by a variety of ARM- and x86-based architectures. As previously announced by Microsoft, Windows 8 devices will be powered by Nvidia’s Tegra 3, Qualcomm Snapdragon, Texas Instrument’s OMAP 5, and Intel’s upcoming Clover Trail processors.

Steven Sinofsky, president of Microsoft’s Windows Division, wrote in a company blog Wednesday that the company has already made 100,000 code changes to the Windows 8 Consumer Preview based on a broad range of feedback.

"Since the Developer Preview in September, designed to preview the programming platform, Windows 8 has progressed across every dimension," Sinofsky wrote. "From completing the user experience for touch, keyboard, and mouse, to refining the development platform, to improving performance, quality, and reliability across all subsystems as well as new features, the Consumer Preview represents a complete view of the capabilities of Windows 8."

Apart from familiarizing themselves with the new Windows 8 Metro-style interface and Start menu, developers and device manufacturers using the Consumer Preview will get a first-time look at the new Windows Store for apps and what Sinofsky describes as the "full user experience."

The Windows front-man did urge readers to remember that the Consumer Preview is still a test version of the new OS -- not a final product. But, he did say feedback is welcome: "We know there will be a lot of feedback -- that comes from re-imagining a product used by a billion people!"