The other Windows 8 hits some snags
Don't be surprised if the other version of Windows 8 — you know, the one that doesn't run on Intel chips — stumbles out of the gate.
Microsoft Surface tablet packing an Nvidia ARM chip.
We got a taste of this on Friday, when Hewlett-Packard confirmed that it won't offer a Windows RT tablet this year.
We heard about these issues in May, when a little birdie told us about problems with RT, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments. And we wrote at the time that HP's Qualcomm-chip based tablet "may not happen this year".
Just to be clear, the RT version of Windows 8 runs on ARM chips from Nvidia, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments, and it will not have the backward compatibility of Intel-based Windows 8.
Whether these issues are PC company-specific, chipmaker-specific, RT-specific or a combination of all three, isn't clear yet.
Patrick Moorhead, president of Moor Insights & Strategy, told CNET this week, that one ARM chipmaker is making more progress than the others.
Nvidia — which by no coincidence is in Microsoft's RT Surface tablet — is ahead of the other two ARM companies, because it has a long history of working with Windows drivers, among other reasons, according to Moorhead.
There are broader issues too, though. Microsoft, by design, is wading slowly into new Windows waters: RT is the first mainstream version of Windows to run on ARM chips.
How cautious is Microsoft? As we wrote in May, Nvidia, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments were initially assigned two "slots" each, for devices. "ARM is restricted to two designs each, meaning six total initial designs," said a source at the time.
One of those slots was for the Qualcomm-based HP device, referenced above.
So, Microsoft is obviously worried about quality control, which means issues, possibly major ones, are inevitable.
A best-case scenario is a staggered release of RT tablets, laptops and hybrids. With some versions, eg, those based on Nvidia chips, probably appearing earlier than others.