Intel, Windows Iterate for Building Tablet Market Share


In the multiple choice world of tablets – option A is Apple and option B is Android – Intel and Microsoft introduced upgrades and tweaks this week to their offerings that will prove attractive for future buyers in both the consumer and business worlds. 

So far, Intel's market share within the tablet arena has been constrained by power consumption. Products highlighted this week at Computex show the company continues to follow its roadmap and timing for improving performance and power consumption. Bay Trail, a redesigned Atom chip with four cores, was demonstrated in a "Microsoft Surface-like" tablet boasting all day battery life.  

One of the big knocks on the entry level Microsoft Surface RT is it doesn't run "real" Windows 8 because it uses a lower-power ARM processor, while the high-end Surface Pro provides a full Windows 8 experience at the cost of battery life and a higher price tag. A Bay Trail-based Surface tablet slots in nicely to displace the RT, offering cost-conscious buyers the ability to get all of the Windows 8 experience without having to pay upwards of $900 for a tablet. It also gives Microsoft the opportunity to shelve RT and streamline costs.

 Intel's Haswell processor family provides the high-end experience, with "full PC performance" and adding between two to three hours of battery life to a tablet. The Surface Pro is typically benchmarked at about five hours of performance, so Haswell should provide a next-generation product with about the same useable time as an Apple iPad and covering a typical work day.

The Haswell family also enables more hybrid tablet/Ultrabook products, where the computer "screen" is actually a tablet and the "keyboard" includes an additional battery and potentially more storage and ports. I think that the traditional laptop's days are numbered for many business and consumer uses and within two years, it’ll all be tablets with keyboard covers on the low-end and mid- to high-end products will be larger screen tablet/sturdy keyboard covers.

For its part, Microsoft is trumpeting the forthcoming rollout of Windows 8.1 and adding Microsoft Outlook to Windows RT, abet a slightly less capable version than its Intel-based brother. The company is going to have to work a bit harder on the consumer front to keep and/or convert Apple iPad and Android tablet users. Building Office on smaller Windows 8 tablets is a start, but more will be needed. 

Microsoft's biggest headache will be trying to convert over users that have purchased content in Apple's iTunes ecosystem and don't want convert or re-buy movies and music with the purchase of a new tablet. Google has sidestepped this problem a bit with Chrome; users can still get access to all their G-cloud things without having to do a content/ecosystem conversion between Windows and Android.

Edited by Jamie Epstein

Contributing Editor

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