Intel’s Power Management for Windows 8 Tablets Is Delayed

Intel-based Windows 8 tablets will be late.

The power management software that lengthens the time between
battery charges on Intel-based Windows 8 Pro tablets is
running late, according to, citing “a person
with knowledge of the matter.” Consequently, Microsoft has not
yet approved any of the tablets that use Intel’s Clover Trail
version of its Atom processors.

That’s despite Intel last week holding a presentation that
showed off Clover Trail tablets from Acer, Asustek, Dell,
Fujitsu, HP, Lenovo and Samsung. Intel, PC makers and
Microsoft are pushing Windows 8 tablets that have detachable
keyboards so they can be both tablet and PC. They frequently
refer to those tablets as “just another PC form factor.”
However, they’re not going to be acceptable tablets unless
they have eight to 10 hours of usage, even playing HD video,
between battery charges. In fact, Intel is pushing its
Ultrabook laptops to exceed eight hours between charging.

Intel has said tablets and laptops based on the Clover Trail
version of its Atom processors will be available October 26,
when Microsoft starts shipping the Windows 8 operating system
and its ARM-based tablets called Surface.

Microsoft has said from the beginning that its Intel-based
Surface tablets will not be available until January, but never
said why.

So, the delay of Intel-based Windows tablets puts some new
wrinkles in the coming battle between ARM-based Windows 8 RT
tablets and those that use Intel’s processor. In a nutshell,
Intel-based ones are aimed at the corporate market and ARM-
based ones are aimed at the consumer market. There are
overlaps, of course.

Intel-based Pro
Runs existing Windows software that corporates have purchased
or custom developed at costs upwards of a million dollars or
Existing Windows software does not support touchscreen and
will have to be modified or rewritten to do so
May be larger and priced higher, like Ultrabooks, than

ARM-based RT
Does not run existing Windows software
Should be thinner, lighter, less expensive and have longer
battery usage, much like any other tablet
Software should be better at operating on a touch screen
Microsoft has developed a version of its Office suite that
runs on ARM-based Windows tablets. We expect that other
software companies will follow suit.

The question is whether the delay in Intel-based tablets will
give ARM-based tablet makers a big enough lead to make a
difference in what the corporates buy. The corporates are not
in a rush to buy Windows 8 desktops and laptops, but their IT
departments are getting a lot of pressure to let employees use
their tablets and smartphones on the corporate networks. Apple
has been a beneficiary of that so-called Bring Your Own Device
(BYOD) movement. However, with an ARM compatible version of
the Office suite, corporates might find it easier to
incorporate ARM tablets into their networks’ security systems
rather than Apple tablets. After all, Microsoft is a long-time
friend of the corporates.

Another factor is that surely Microsoft is not the only
software company that’s rushing to finish a version of their
software that will run on ARM-based Windows 8 tablets and
their touchscreen capable.

There’s no certainty that Intel can, in fact, develop power
management software for its processors that give the 10+ hours
between charges. It’s been trying to compete against ARM
processor designs for a number of years. Outside of ARM, Intel
is probably the only company that has the resources to pull it
off. ARM would counter that you have to embed power management
capability into the chip’s design, not add it later.

If the Intel power management is delayed only a month or two,
then it’s no big problem. It’s no big deal if the Intel
tablets miss out on the holiday shopping season because Apple
and other ARM-based tablets, Android and Windows 8, seem to
have a lock on that. However, if the delay is beyond the end
of the year, it will give ARM tablet makers an opportunity in
the corporates, especially as more and more Windows developers
convert or re-write their software for ARM-based Windows 8

Qualcomm, Nvidia and Texas Instruments have said they are
making ARM-based chips that run Windows 8 RT. Microsoft said
it has selected the Nvidia one for use in its Surface tablets.
Nvidia has reportedly been working with Asus and Lenovo.
Qualcomm is reportedly working with Dell and Samsung. Based on
HP’s various statements, it does not intend to ship an ARM-
based Windows 8 tablet, but will ship one that uses Intel’s
processors. That’s important because HP is still the world’s
largest maker of PCs and has a very large and successful
global sales force that’s focused on the corporates.

Hanging heavily over all this is the tablet king Apple and two
possible Apple announcements. Less expensive iPads with
smaller 7-inch screens are rumored to be coming before the
holiday shopping season. It could draw price sensitive buyers
away for more expensive 10-inch tablets, whether Android,
Windows 8 or even Apple’s iPads. New models of the 10-inch
tablets are expected in March or April, which if suitably
enhanced, will cause problems for all tablet makers and make
the Windows 8 tablet war look like a tempest in a teapot.

This section’s name reflects the fact that the iPad is still
far and away the world’s dominant tablet. With Amazon, Google
and Samsung having failed, can Microsoft knock Apple off its
throne with Windows 8?

About the Author

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