It's Official: HP's First Windows 8 Tablet Will Be x86-Based

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Hewlett-Packard confirmed Friday that its first Windows 8 tablet will be an x86 model aimed at businesses and said it has not yet decided if it will also make ARM tablets running Windows RT.

"I can confirm that at HP, we continue to look at using ARM processors in business and consumer products," HP spokesperson Marlene Somsak said in an emailed statement. "However, our first Windows 8 tablet will be on the x86 platform focused on the business market."

HP's decision to go with the x86 version of Windows 8 instead of Windows RT was influenced by input from its customers, Somsak said.

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"The robust and established ecosystem of x86 applications provides the best customer experience at this time and in the immediate future," she said. HP's plans were first reported by Bloomberg Friday.

This is a significant change of tone for HP, which for much of this year has suggested it would bring both x86 and ARM Windows 8 tablets to market.

"We're coming back into the market with a Windows 8 tablet, first on an x86 chip and then maybe on an ARM chip. I'm pretty sure we'll be able to do that," HP CEO Meg Whitman told CRN in January.

In May at HP's Global Influencer Summit in Shanghai, China, Whitman and Todd Bradley, executive vice president of HP's Printing and Personal Systems Group, said some of HP's Windows 8 tablets would be targeted at the consumer market.

"I'm very comfortable with where we're going in tablets," Bradley said at the Shanghai event. "Our stated tablet strategy is around Microsoft and bringing Windows 8 tablets to market. … That's not to say that [the Microsoft partnership] is forever -- markets evolve."

HP has also been playing up the security and management features of Windows 8 tablets, suggesting that these will make them more suitable for businesses than iPads.

"The notion is that these companies are someday going to let employees show up with their own device, whether it's a PC, iPad, Mac," Whitman told CRN in January. "I get the notion, but every CIO I talk to says, 'Yea, wow… that could be pretty tough. And the first breach that happens, all bets are off.'"

HP hasn't commented publicly on Microsoft's Surface tablet unveiling, and other hardware makers, with the exception of Acer, have not offered much in the way of a response.

The blog SemiAccurate reported Friday that HP is scrapping Windows RT tablets in response to Microsoft's unveiling of Surface, the software giant's first foray into tablet hardware.

While that may be accurate, HP's failed WebOS tablet efforts, and its flirtation with selling off its PC business, probably didn't sit well with Microsoft, either.

As HP continues to restructure its business and streamline its lineup of product SKUs, it has apparently decided that focusing just on business users with Windows 8 tablets is the best path forward.


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