DisARMed - HP Kills ARM-based Windows Tablet, Likely Thanks To Microsoft's Surface

That didn't take long. HP has publicly confirmed that it has cancelled plans to bring a Windows RT (aka Windows on ARM) tablet to market in time for the Windows 8 debut. The company has decided to focus on its x86 customer base instead. HP spokesperson Marlene Somsak has said that "The decision was influenced by input from our customers. The robust and established ecosystem of x86 applications provides the best customer experience at this time and in the immediate future."

Sources we spoke to confirmed that Microsoft's Surface unveil last week was a huge factor in this decision. HP isn't willing to go head to head with Microsoft when it comes to launching new, unproven products. Abandoning x86 is impossible, but dropping Windows ARM is a way for the computer manufacturer to signal its supreme displeasure without unduly risking market share. It also increases the burden on Surface itself -- if other OEMs follow suit, MS could find itself as the only vendor selling ARM-based W8 tablets.

Angry Steve Ballmer

HP is claiming that it made the decision to kill ARM development before Microsoft announced Surface, but that's a bit too coincidental to believe. The company had reportedly partnered with Qualcomm to build a Windows RT tablet, and Qualcomm's CES presentation last January made it clear that the company was very serious about breaking into the tablet/netbook market. With its major partner gone AWOL, the mobile manufacturer's plans for this space could be crippled.

This could be a significant blow to Microsoft's aspirations as well. The point of Windows RT was to give Microsoft access to both the x86 and ARM markets. If hardware manufacturers start pulling away from Windows RT, it'll cripple Microsoft's attempt to break into a space currently dominated by ARM chips and iOS/Android devices. Alternatively, smaller OEMs with less market share might see HP's pullout as an opportunity to grab more market share for themselves. Asus, Lenovo, and Toshiba might be more willing to bet on Windows RT if they think they have a better chance of gaining ground with HP out of the picture, even if that means going head to head with Microsoft itself.

If other OEMs follow Microsoft's example, it could have a nasty impact on Nvidia, Samsung, and Texas Instruments as well. Nvidia has led the charge to build Windows 8 devices, but if the device manufacturers start pulling out, there's not much the company could do to stop it. Smaller OEMs might pick up the slack, but starting over with new designs takes time and the mobile market continues to move at a rapid pace.

We knew Surface was a huge bet for Microsoft and that the likes of Dell and HP might see it as a threat, but a move this big has long-term implications for the HP-Microsoft partnership. How those conflicts will resolve remains to be seen.
Via:  Bloomberg
JDiaz 2 years ago

I don't know if I put too much weight on it not being a coincidence. Mind that HP is hardly much of a risk taker anymore. Like they hardly ran into trouble before they gave up on the TouchPad for example.

So the slowly released details of Windows RT and the fact it will be more locked down, won't allow 3rd party desktop apps, etc. Were probably already making HP second guess the decision to support Windows RT tablets. Especially, since the lack of a proper app ecosystem was one of the problems they had with the TouchPad.

While HP has already started to move a bit away from the general consumer market and targeting businesses more and more. Something that the Windows RT version wouldn't have served very well for them.

Though the Surface announcement may have been the last straw for them but I doubt it was the deciding factor by itself. Especially since they're still making a Windows 8 tablet and the Surface covers that too with the pro model.

While I think implications of MS relationship with their partners is being exaggerated. All companies are in it for their bottom line and the bottom line is Windows sells. So long as that remains true then they'll continue to offer Window systems and devices.

Windows RT is just the bigger gamble right now until they can see how consumers react to it and how quickly the app market develops.

While companies also don't always advertise what they're going to do or say they're not when they're really only putting things on hold. Like the news of the ARM servers was first that they're switching to ATOM but later corrected that the ARM version was coming out later. So we'll see if HP really doesn't make a Windows RT tablet a year from now once they see how the other companies are doing.

Dave_HH 2 years ago

I think you're mostly right here JD. It will be interesting to see how this pans out but it's interesting to see a shot across the bow of Microsoft. HP is mitigating their risk I think at this point and that makes sense in this situation.

3vi1 2 years ago

Regardless of their reasoning, I think HP is making the right move.

Chances are good that the RT tablets are going to go over like a lead balloon, and this time two years from now Microsoft's main product will be promises of how much better everything will be in Windows 9 thanks to some new DirectX feature that just can't easily be backported to Windows 7..

Joel H 2 years ago


You seem to be implying that DX10 was either a gimmick or that Microsoft deliberately refused to backport it. Neither is true.

You couldn't do Aero in XP, or 2D hardware acceleration, or DX10. You couldn't drive more than two GPUs on XP, either. Attempting to backport DX10 into XP, while probably not impossible, would've required an enormous amount of effort for no serious return.

At some point, every software company has to say "We're done updating Version X, we're moving to a new framework built around Version Y. You couldn't do a lot of the things Windows Vista introduced without a new driver model.Implying that this was all a strategy to sell more copies of Vista rather misses the point.

3vi1 2 years ago


I didn't imply DX10 could be backported to XP. Quite the opposite, I implied Microsoft designs their APIs such that they tie new features to the OS when there's really no reason for it to not all be sequestered within the API's libraries.

New features in OpenGL (which has had many features before DirectX) never care which Linux kernel you're running - or even if you're running a BSD or Hurd kernel instead. Then again, The OpenGL group isn't trying to make sure you have to buy a new OS.

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