By Alexandra Burlacu | Apr 19, 2013 10:07 AM EDT
Microsoft just confirmed that smaller, cheaper Windows 8 tablets from OEM partners will make their debut within months, bringing more Windows 8 device choices.
The software giant ventured into the hardware business with its Surface line of tablets, and now the company said it is working with manufacturers to produce a line of smaller Windows-powered devices to challenge popular tablets such as the iPad Mini, Nexus 7 and Amazon Kindle Fire.
On a conference call on Thursday, April 18, Microsoft's Chief Financial Officer Peter Klein told investors and analysts that consumers should soon see more Windows 8 touch-enabled devices with more attractive price tags.
"[W]e are working closely with OEMs on a new suite of small touch devices powered by Windows," said Klein, as cited by ZDNet. "These devices will have competitive price points, partly enabled by our latest OEM offerings designed specifically for these smaller devices, and will be available in the coming months."
The upcoming devices appear to follow the changes Microsoft made at the end of March to the Windows 8 certification guidelines for OEMs, allowing smaller-resolution displays to suit the increasingly popular 7-inch market.
Klein further said that the range of touch-enabled devices capable of taking full advantage of Windows 8 was starting to see some improvements. Best Buy, for instance, lists over 20 Windows 8 or Windows RT tablets, all of which sport hefty price tags above $450.
Moving to smaller tablets with lower price tags might attract more consumers, and it may also benefit the company's Windows Phone platform. According to Klein, Windows Phone continued to show momentum, grabbing a 10 percent share in some markets, but Microsoft still has "a lot of work ahead to break through in some key markets."
During Nokia's Q1 conference call with analysts, the company's CEO Stephen Elop said that Microsoft, Nokia and operators were aiming to boost marketing budgets to support Windows Phone. A new recent report, meanwhile, claimed that Nokia is working on a Windows Phone-based "phablet" device to challenge Samsung's Galaxy Note.
With Android and iOS dominating the market, could smaller and more affordable Windows 8 tablets make a difference for Microsoft? Could a "phablet" turn things around for Nokia? Can Windows 8 catch up?
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