HP Windows 8 RT tablet plans postponed over chip snags

By Graeme Burton
02 Jul 2012 View Comments
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HP, the world's biggest PC maker, has pulled plans to launch a Windows 8 RT-based tablet this year amid rumours that the operating system's development has run into problems.

Windows 8 RT is intended to run on ARM-based microprocessor architectures, which now dominate the mobile device space. But according to reports, Microsoft is having difficulty getting the operating system up and running on popular ARM implementations from Qualcomm and Texas Instruments (TI).

Further reading

Analysts have speculated that the problems lie in the device drivers that the chip-makers need to build to ensure that Windows 8 RT runs properly on their architectures.

Patrick Moorhead, a former executive at chip-maker Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) and now an analyst, has suggested that Nvidia's experience in writing device drivers for its graphic cards gives it a significant headstart over rivals Qualcomm and TI.

That, he said, is the reason why Microsoft's own recently unveiled tablet, the Surface, is based on a Nvidia ARM-based architecture rather than competing ARM-based chipsets.

Alternative reports had suggested that HP's decision to delay the launch was due to dissatisfaction with Microsoft for releasing its own tablet, which will compete with HP's.

Not only does Surface utilise the only chipset that currently works with Windows 8 RT, according to reports, but partners will need to pay a licence fee to Microsoft for the privilege of building devices with the operating system – a cost that won't apply to Microsoft.

The problems may also restrict the supply of Windows 8 RT devices into the consumer market in time for the Christmas sales rush.

However, HP will instead focus on Windows 8 tablet devices based on Intel's x86 architecture, intended for the enterprise market.

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