Several leading PC suppliers, including HP, Dell, Asus, Toshiba and Sony, have announced products from laptops to smartphones that will run Microsoft’s newest operating system Windows 8, expected to be released in October.
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Windows 8 supports the use of touchscreen technology and many of the new products announced are hybrid devices, combining tablet and laptop capability in one.
HP announced a hybrid device, the Envy x2, which doubles as a notebook and a tablet by using a detachable touchscreen.
Dell’s offering is branded under its XPS range. Products include the XPS Duo 12, a hybrid laptop and tablet with a flip-hinge touchscreen display allowing the device to be used as a touch-driven slate as well as a traditional laptop. Dell also announced the 10-inch XPS 10 tablet, which will run the Windows RT version of the operating system (OS).
Toshiba has introduced its Satellite U920T, a tablet with a slide-out keyboard running Windows 8. Sony’s Vaio Duo 11 is a touchscreen tablet that also features a small keyboard which users slide to unveil.
Asus launched a number of devices in June, which also run Windows 8, including the Vivo range with a detachable keyboard, and the Taichi device which has a double-sided display and acts as a tablet when the lid of the laptop is closed.
Lenovo also announced a series of Windows 8 devices. Lenovo’s products are traditional laptops which are not hybrid or touch screen, however the S Series laptops will feature Windows 8 functionality once available this Autumn.
Seeing the big players announcing products on the highly anticipated operating system is encouraging, but it won’t necessarily convince businesses to upgrade, according to Rob Bamforth, principal analyst at Quocirca.
“OS upgrades don’t happen quickly based on hardware, they tend to move based on software decisions. More often, if a piece of software isn’t going to be supported on a new OS, that pulls people forward to upgrade," he said.
“Businesses will like the direction Microsoft is going in, with mobile and desktop looking a lot closer and happier together, which it hasn’t in the past. This will be seen as encouraging but not enough to switch or upgrade.”
Microsoft’s two-pronged desktop and mobile approach puts the firm in a much better position than Blackberry and Android-based devices to compete with Apple in the growing bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend, said Bamforth.
But he is not convinced that hybrid devices will take off in the enterprise market: “It’s not necessarily about replacing a specific device, but a way of working. It’s about how people work and how people are comfortable," he said.
“I’m not convinced by the transformer-type model. Tablets with detachable keyboards which can be left behind rather than forced to carry around, will take off more than the flip-type models. There are more usage scenarios where you don’t need a keyboard all the time - and people who do might just stick with a laptop.”
Earlier this week, Samsung also announced its series of Windows 8-based products, called Ativ, which includes PCs, a tablet and a smartphone all based on the Microsoft operating system.