Microsoft expects cheaper Windows 8 PCs and tablets this fall

Using Intel's new 'Haswell' Core and 'Bay Trail' Atom processors could lower prices dramatically and boost battery life

Smaller, less expensive Windows 8 devices based on upcoming Intel processors are in the offing for later this year, the company says. The devices will be based on "Haswell" Core processors and "Bay Trail" Atom processors, both of which are designed for longer battery life, Microsoft's outgoing CFO Peter Klein said in the company's quarterly earnings meeting.

Those prices could be as low as $300 with "Haswell" Core chips inside devices such as Ultrabooks, detachables, and convertibles, says Intel CEO Paul Otellini in a Seeking Alpha transcript of Intel's earnings call. Even cheaper devices -- in the $200 range -- could become possible using "Bay Trail" Atom chips in thin, light notebooks, he says. He didn't mention the rumored Microsoft watch or 7-inch tablet.

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Otellini says that "Haswell" chips open the door to better compute and graphics performance as well as better battery life.

Otellini says touch is key to Windows 8 adoption, and the new chip will enhance that, too. He says he recently switched to Windows 8 with touch and he thinks it's better than a Windows 7 desktop when using applications built for touch. "There is an adoption curve, and once you get over that adoption curve, I don't think you go back," he says. "And I think people are attracted to touch, and the touch price points today are still fairly high, and they're coming down very rapidly over the next couple of quarters."

He says Intel has written specifications for Ultrabooks that cost as little as $499. If you look at touch-enabled Intel based notebooks that are ultrathin and light using Atom processors, those prices might be as low as $200.

Tim Greene covers Microsoft and unified communications for Network World and writes the Mostly Microsoft blog. Reach him at and follow him on Twitter @Tim_Greene.

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This story, "Microsoft expects cheaper Windows 8 PCs and tablets this fall" was originally published by Network World.