Microsoft's range of Windows 8 tablets has been delayed due to a hold-up in the development of power conservation features on new Intel "Clover Trail" microprocessors. This line is intended for Windows 8-based touchpads competing against the Apple iPad.
The combination of Windows 8 with the new Intel microprocessors was intended to give Microsoft an edge at the high end with its entry into the tablet market against the Apple iPad and Google Android-based devices.
Intel last week showcased the new chip technology with a number of tablet devices supposedly capable of playing high-definition video for up to 10 hours and of remaining on standby for weeks at a time between recharges.
However, Microsoft has yet to approve any tablets featuring the new microprocessor.
The news follows claims by Intel CEO Paul Otellini that Windows 8 still needs to be improved – suggesting that although the versions of Windows 8 showcased by Microsoft might look slick, there is still plenty to iron out under the surface.
And delays in finishing and shipping both Windows 8 and the Intel Clover Trail microprocessors means that vendors will be cutting it fine if they want to take advantage of Christmas sales.
"The PC channel is in chaos right now," Alex Gauna, an analyst at JMP Securities, told Bloomberg. "They don't know what to do. They don't know what to design for, they don't know what the consumers are going to buy. Tablets have stolen their growth trajectory, plus the macro situation, plus Wintel has made a mess of their ecosystem."
A number of major vendors, including Dell, HP and Lenovo are hoping that the combination of Windows 8 and Intel Clover Trail will enable them to make good lost PC sales with new, higher margin tablet PC sales.
While Microsoft is also offering a low-end alternative in the form of Windows 8 RT running on standard ARM microprocessor architectures, this is not aimed at the higher end, or the corporate market where tablet PC makers hope to make in-roads.