Will there be a Windows 8 tablet under your Christmas tree? According to an article from CNET, a source has claimed that Windows 8 tablets built on Intel architecture will be available in November of this year. (See also: Live: Microsoft LA press event - Windows 8 tablet launch.)
The CNET source also reports that there will be more than a dozen Windows 8 tablet models available, and that more than half of them will be more than just tablets. So, if the source is accurate we can expect to see a variety of dockable tablet / convertibly notebook type options on the shelves.
The tablets identified by the CNET source are the Intel variety, not to be confused with Windows 8 RT--the Windows tablets built for ARM-based hardware platforms. Windows 8 RT tablets are a closer comparison to existing tablets like the Apple iPad, or Samsung Galaxy Tab because the leading tablets are all built around ARM architecture. However, Windows 8 RT will not be able to join a Microsoft network domain, and are not capable of running legacy Windows desktop applications, so their functionality from a business perspective may be hobbled.
Windows 8 tablets running on Intel (or AMD) chip architecture, however, is simply Windows 8 in a different form factor. It will be able to connect to a network domain, and run the same software as Windows 8 on a more traditional laptop or desktop PC.
The tablet in and of itself is already making a dent in the business world because the portability, touchscreen interface, and exceptional battery life make it an ideal device for many tasks. If Microsoft succeeds in delivering a solid tablet experience that is also an extension of the Windows 8 PC and is capable of running the same software users rely on while they’re sitting at their desk it could be a serious tablet contender.
There are still a number of question marks, though--particularly for the Intel/AMD architecture Windows 8 tablets. If the Windows 8 tablets are thicker, heavier, and more expensive, with less battery life than their ARM-based rivals, the Windows 8 tablet could be dead on arrival.
Should you hold off on making a tablet decision until November? If you’re not in a hurry, there is certainly some logic to that strategy. But, there will always be another wave of hot new tablets coming out soon and you can’t wait forever.
On the other hand, it’s only six months away. From a business perspective, it makes sense to wait and see what the Windows 8 tablets will bring to the table, and how much they’ll cost before making a decision on a tablet platform.