The mainstream tablet market is currently limited to two primary operating systems: Android and iOS.
Yes, there is also RIM’s Playbook, but it currently lacks a thriving app ecosystem like Apple’s App Store or Google’s Android Market. But that will all change this October or November, when Microsoft begins shipping its hotly anticipated Windows 8 operating system.
Windows 8 supports both ARM and x86 chips, which means consumers will have a wide range of choice – in terms of price, performance and battery life – when it comes to selecting an appropriate tablet.
Indeed, numerous companies are already lining up to design Windows 8-powered tablets, including HP, Nokia, Asus. Michael Dell has also vowed to offer an enterprise tablet on the same day the OS ships.
Nokia, which is currently partnered with Microsoft on the Windows Phone 7 front, recently confirmed that it was “working” on a Win8 tablet. What Nokia brings to the table is an ingenuity in mobile manufacturing and ergonomics that few have been able to challenge. The company’s strength in hardware design is why it managed to be the industry leader in smartphones for a sustained period of time.
Meanwhile, reports indicate that Lenovo hopes to be one of the very first vendors to ship a Windows 8 tablet. Although little is known about Lenovo’s upcoming device, The Verge says it will be powered by an Intel x86 chip, rather than a RISC-based ARM processor.
Of course, Lenovo will almost certainly offer RISC-powered Windows 8 tablets alongside its initial device, but the x86 chip was likely chosen to showcase the performance capabilities of what could potentially become the company’s flagship tablet.
The forecast? Expect market saturation of Windows 8 tablets from vendors around the world. They will eventually hit critical mass and slowly chip away at the market share currently claimed by Apple and Android.