Hewlett Packard has taken a variety of approaches to the tablet space over the past few years. The company’s HP Slate 2 is a business-focused tablets with Windows 7 and digital pen input. Last year the company launched the HP TouchPad consumer tablet running webOS software… and canceled it less than two months later after a multi-billion dollar investment failed to pay off quickly enough.
Now that Microsoft is retooling its flagship operating system with a tablet-friendly user interface, HP is preparing to launch tablets running Windows 8 software.
But Bloomberg reports that the company is holding off on launching Windows RT tablets with low-power ARM-based processors.
Windows RT devices won’t be able to run legacy Windows apps designed to run on computers with x86 processors, but they’ll probably offer long battery life, lower prices, and always-connected capabilities — features that aren’t necessarily a given for tablets with x86 processors.
HP officials told Bloomberg that the decision to focus on x86 over ARM was based on input from customers and a focus on supporting the wide range of software already available for Windows 7 and earlier.
But it’s hard not to imagine that Microsoft’s decision to launch its own Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets played no role in HP’s decision.
It’ll be tough for any company to compete directly with Microsoft, a company that controls the hardware and software, and which doesn’t have to pay a licensing fee to put Windows on a tablet.
Instead, it looks like HP will be focusing initially on business customers with its first Windows 8 tablets, possibly offering enterprise-friendly features that aren’t available from Microsoft’s Surface tablets.