Windows 8 Tablets to Cost Twice as Much as High-End Android Tablets ($600-$900)

by: LucianJanuary 16, 2012
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I can’t say this comes as a completely surprise to me, but Digitimes reports that Intel-powered Windows 8 tablets will cost anywhere between $600 and $900. The reason this doesn’t come off as a surprise is because I knew x86 hardware, and especially Intel hardware, will add significantly to the cost of the tablets. Just look at what it has done to the original Google TV set top box, and also to the Chromebooks. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that all smart TV makers want to use ARM instead. Intel hardware is just much more expensive than ARM hardware, and this will hurt Windows 8 tablets, which are set to come months ahead any ARM version.

The second “obvious” reason why the tablets will be so expensive is because Microsoft is unwilling to disrupt its own business model. This is exactly the reason why instead of using WP7, a pure “modern” OS, they want to use the “full” Windows, even though it gives them very little benefit where the real market for tablets is – the ARM market.

So instead of pushing a Windows Phone license for tablets that costs $15, they want to push a license that costs $50-$100. They are doing this because they know that touch computing will be the future, and they are afraid that if touch devices replace all “regular” computers, then instead of making $50-$100 per license, they will be making only $15.

This is also why Microsoft is afraid to go “full-touch” and “Post-PC” with a new OS like WP7, and instead they try to combine them in an awkward way. For example, they are forcing most people who are used with the regular Windows interface to use the completely different “tile interface”, which also has very little app compatibility. You basically have to go back to the regular mode for all the old apps. So then what’s the point of combining them? In the same time, it keeps all the bloat underneath for people who actually want just the tile-Windows, and are more forward-looking than most users.

But let’s get back to the real issue here, which will be pricing. By the time these tablets are out, which should be sometime in summer, Android tablets will cost around $250-$300 with about the same specs, and even the Android tablets that will have higher performance than Atom, like the ones with Krait or Cortex A15, and will have full HD resolutions or higher, like 1920×1200 or 2560×1600, should also be cheaper than the cheapest Windows 8 tablets.

The Nook Color, HP Touchpad and the Kindle Fire (and other tablets) have taught people to want tablets that cost $100-$250. The performance will be more than enough for those tablets, and most people who want a tablet just want some casual browsing anyway.  Nobody is going to want  full PC productivity apps on their tablets, and some of those are covered on Android, like Office apps or Photoshop, that are optimized for touch and streamlined for the touch user experience.

Microsoft will make the mistake of pushing Windows 8 tablets with x86 hardware first, which will also prove to be a disappointment from a battery life point of view, and it won’t be until the end of 2012 or the beginning of 2013 when the ARM-powered tablets will be ready. The low prices and proliferation of Android tablets should give Android a strong foothold in the tablet market before Microsoft even gets a chance to get its tablet strategy together.

  • Bubba

    Real computers cost more than casual computers.

    I’m sure the neutered ARM based Windows 8 will be much less costly and capable, like their iOS and Android counterparts.

  • Million

    Capability has a lot less to do with processor power than the applications made for the platform. Just look at the Tegra 3.

    Desktop apps have had decades to mature. Tablet apps are catching up quickly.

  • AppleFUD

    This is why ARM will eventually kill Intel. Intel has lived off a duopoly (WinTel) for years and has grown accustomed to making high profits off their chips. ARM has survived via competition and licensing and now the chips are becoming good enough for desktop use for most users.

    This is the same comment I’ve made elsewhere about Intel’s new mobile chip for phones–the price most likely will be the killer, not necessarily the performance.

    Now MS seems to be making just about every mistake they can with Win8 as of late–no support for legacy apps on ARM, no desktop Windows for tablets on ARM = dock and you still get metro, too high of a price. All this ends up leading to an expensive Win8 ARM tablet that will have less apps than any other on the market, will have a bloated OS, etc. . . So, they seem to be killing any and every advantage of having a full OS on an ARM tablet. It’s bizarre to watch.

    As we discussed in another of your articles about Win8, they need to do it right to survive and to me it’s looking more and more like they don’t get it. If they are bringing a full OS to ARM then I want to be able to use both the mobile UI and the desktop UI. Otherwise they should have used WP7 on it.

    When the new OMAP 5 & Exynos chips hit the market I’ll be looking for a small device that I can dock and use for everyday all-purpose computing–my computer with me everywhere I go–and it sure seems like MS wants to make sure that that’s going to be and Android device–maybe they feel that’s a better win for them since they are getting licensing fees from so many Android OEMs lol. Well, I’ll be happy to make it Android and leave Windows behind in the past ;)

  • I hate crap stories like this.
    The headline should be
    Apples, Oranges, Lemons and Pineapples – Two are different (But so are the other two)

    The story starts out saying there are 2 different issues then goes about ignoring the third and fourth

    1) ARM is cheaper than Intel
    2) Intel is more expensive than Android
    3) Low end Android is different than high end Android
    4) So be surprised Intel is more expensive than low end android DOH !

    • It’s a pretty troll post