Yesterday Microsoft announced the final roster for ARM based Windows RT tablets expected to launch this year. We'll see Windows RT tablets from ASUS, Dell, Lenovo and Samsung, as well as Microsoft itself with Surface. Those who aren't listed either opted to go x86 exclusively (e.g. Acer) or simply won't have a Windows RT device in the first round. Microsoft is trying to exercise more control over its partners with Windows 8, with hopes of boosting the overall quality of launch devices. Powering these tablets will be NVIDIA's Tegra 3, Qualcomm's Snapdragon S4 or TI's OMAP 4 SoC. Thanks to ARMv7 ISA compatibility across all three SoCs, only a single build of Windows RT is needed to run across all Windows RT tablets.

The OS is final as of now, but there's still a lot of work being done on drivers. I don't expect to see anything resembling final drivers until early October. That being said, Microsoft did share a bit of early data about the first Windows RT tablets:

Windows RT Launch Tablet Specification Range
  Min Max Apple iPad (2012)
HD Video Playback at 200 nits 8 hours 13 hours 11.15 hours
Connected Standby 320 hours 409 hours -
Battery Capacity 25 Wh 42 Wh 42 Wh
Screen Size 10.1-inches 11.6-inches 9.7-inches
Weight 520 g 1200 g 652 g
Length 263 mm 298 mm 241.2 mm
Width 168.5 mm 204 mm 185.7 mm
Height 8.35 mm 15.6 mm 9.4 mm

The only battery life specs that Microsoft shared unfortunately came with very little information. Thankfully MS specified the brightness setting (200 nits, oddly compatible with our own tablet battery life tests) but not the workload in particular. I added the 3rd gen iPad to the tablet above to draw a rough comparison, but with things like battery life it's difficult to make an accurate comparison without knowing all of the details from Microsoft's tests. The rest of the specs show a fairly wide range of devices, starting at something that's much thinner and lighter than the current iPad and going up all the way to something that's more notebook like.

It's disappointing to see a lack of commentary on battery life stressing more than just the video decode logic on the SoC and display. I'm also interested to see how Atom based Clovertrail Windows 8 tablets stack up against these Windows RT devices in terms of battery life and performance. If Atom based Windows 8 tablets can deliver a comparable experience there, and are comparably priced (which seems to be the case based on what I heard at Computex), then the choice between RT and Atom based Windows 8 tablets may boil down to whether free Office or legacy compatibility matter more to you.

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  • damianrobertjones - Tuesday, August 14, 2012 - link

    Late information but thank you anyway

    http://www.wpcentral.com/microsoft-details-feature...

    I'm pretty sure that if this were Apple news it would have hit the web and been posted everywhere within minutes. Once the sales start and the money flows the info for MS will quickly ramp again.
    Reply
  • vasanthakumar - Wednesday, August 15, 2012 - link

    I wish Microsoft enter the smartphone/tablet wars and make consumer great.. Innovation is very much required.. Product innovation. I heard people buy tablets argue without any rationale...it is very sad..Also marketing guys who makes mess with discussion forum.

    Microsoft could have have chosen integrated Qualcomm chipset rather than Tegra 3. If it is 200$, I feel there will no LPDDR2 or GPU. I do want both.

    I think Microsoft should contact Braun for their industrial design make competitive APPLE tablets.Braun is the best for industrial design.

    Is Microsoft offers lot of free APPS... If it is then it will be good for value .. I wish they make more free APPS when compared to Android.

    I wish they procure a good 802.11ac chipset from Broadcomm. ST, Avago, ..

    Is this tablet has MHL a very important feature for TV integration....
    Reply
  • augiem - Wednesday, August 15, 2012 - link

    If MS hired Braun to design their devices they'd end up looking just like Apple's. http://gizmodo.com/343641/1960s-braun-products-hol... Reply
  • yyrkoon - Tuesday, August 14, 2012 - link

    Being a hobbyist embedded systems designer, I am a huge fan of ARM technology. Thus, I would like to see Windows RT do very well. Mainly, because I could see all sort of possibilities that may facilitate making my hobby easier and better. Or even different in a good way.

    With that said, one has to wonder why Microsoft feels compelled to omit all of the important data in such testing. What is the point after all ? "Hey look, we can play 720p video for almost two hours longer than Apple at 1080p." ? Yeah, I know that is a stretch, but it has to make one wonder.

    Granted, Apple is the last thing I want to deal with in my life. Period. But still . . .
    Reply
  • bplewis24 - Tuesday, August 14, 2012 - link

    Did anybody expect much different from the ARM based tablets? The real information that I'm concerned with is the x86 based tablets, which I imagine will be terrible in comparison. Reply
  • asliarun - Wednesday, August 15, 2012 - link

    Why would you imagine x86 would be terrible?

    Intel's single core Medfield has similar performance AND power consumption (full power and standby) as most ARM designs (and in fact beats ARM if you compare core to core). Clovertrail will basically be a dual core version of Medfield with probably some additional optimization and I would imagine that it will be extremely competitive with even the latest ARM designs.

    Plus, an x86 based tablet will let you run all your legacy apps and will get full Office support.

    The only thing that would suck would be the battery life and heat of an Intel Core base tablet, but it will dominate ARM when it comes to performance and will probably be positioned as a true laptop replacement.
    Reply
  • Penti - Wednesday, August 15, 2012 - link

    Legacy apps, better enterprise integration and control. Stuff like Outlook, none WinRT-games, business software, creative software and all the little tools and services people use that is built for Win32 makes the x86 ones more attractive. If people buy them it's because it's a notebook replacement it's fits pretty bad as an second device kind of thing to augment your Windows experience. Plus remember that the new iPad has a larger battery then MacBook Air 11. Atom stuff should get more battery life then needed and many will feature modern Core stuff from Intel, my only worry is those damn PowerVR-drivers that newer seems to sit well with Windows and that concern is true for ARM too. And I still wonder how W8 will go with the enterprises. They are done moving to Windows 7 by now, but unless they can avoid Metro W8 is of no use to them. When working with real world stuff even stuff like reaching for your mouse/trackpad is a pain. A full screen interface not compatible with Win32 software and scrolling sideways will pretty much just end up being in the way.

    When it comes to a communications and entertainment device, with lots of business use Android and iPad is already on a long way down that path. Playbook can take some Android software now. But Windows Runtime is a whole new environment that doesn't seem to solve anything when it comes to frees themselves from the underlaying platform dependencies of past Microsoft decades. It's huge despite not really being a different OS/platform.
    Reply
  • MartinT - Tuesday, August 14, 2012 - link

    What an odd choice to specify max playback time, max battery capacity, min weight and min height. Reply
  • Braumin - Tuesday, August 14, 2012 - link

    Well they are comparing different devices. Not sure if you noticed that. Reply
  • MartinT - Tuesday, August 14, 2012 - link

    Ah, OK, then it's merely useless, rather than silly.

    Thanks!
    Reply

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