The days of Android-ARM exclusive partnership are under threat as Acer is due to launch Android 3.0 or Honeycomb-based 10-inch tablet powered by Intel's Oak trail chip.
DigiTimes reported that Acer's Honeycomb tablet featuring Intel Oak Trail is currently under mass production by Compal Electronics and is due to hit the shelves latest by July. Citing sources close to upstream component players, DigiTimes stated that Asustek Computer and Lenovo are also due to follow suit.
DigiTimes also reported that Intel is providing subsidy and technical assistance to downstream players. The report comes just a week after Intel revealed its longstanding partner Microsoft's plans to launch four versions of ARM-based Windows 8. It also revealed that the ARM Windows will not support legacy apps.
The revelations by Intel elicited a negative response from Microsoft. Microsoft stated that Intel's comments were factually inaccurate and unfortunately misleading.
The Wintel combination has been losing the tablet landscape war against the Android-ARM combination. Windows-based tablets which are powered by Intel chips are known to be heavier, clunkier and power sucking devices. Both the companies are attempting to break this jinx. Thus, Microsoft has sided with ARM and Intel is now wooing Android.
Intel Corp. had announced in April that it will start shipping its tablet-specific Atom Z670 processor, which brings in improved battery performance and enhanced video capabilities, from May. Intel Atom platform formerly codenamed Oak Trail can support platforms like Google Android, MeeGo and Windows. Over 35 devices based on Oak Trail platform from companies like Fujitsu, Lenovo, Motion Computing and Viliv are due in 2011.
Intel has to tap into the Android market to build a formidable position in the tablet landscape. It is attempting to wrap up its position by pushing the downstream players.
Microsoft is crafting Windows 8 ground-up for the ARM chip architecture. Microsoft will launch next year it's much talked-about Windows 8, the latest version of its operating system, CEO Steve Ballmer said in Tokyo on Monday. It will launch both an Intel x86 and ARM-based Windows 8.
Intel's claim that legacy apps will not be supported on ARM-based Windows 8, actually underscores Microsoft's strategy to streamline and downsize Windows.
Windows as an OS for tablets is considered too feature-rich for tablets. Also the ARM architecture, though power-efficient, cannot support multi-tasking features and multiple OS platforms. Thus, chucking out legacy apps from ARM ratifies the industry's claim that Windows OS and tablet interface do not combine well.
Microsoft has been struggling to deliver a successful tablet for a decade and at the root of its problem is its fixation with Windows OS. Thus, developing an ARM-based OS ground up punctuates its move away from the strategy of slapping Windows OS on various form factors like tablets.
Intel at its Investor Meeting 2011 in Santa Clara, California, also revealed that it will introduce more than 10 tablets which the company plans to showcase at the upcoming trade show Computex in Taiwan.
Both Intel and Microsoft are looking for a viable tablet strategy and both are attempting to forge a relationship with each other's competitors to surf the tablet wave.