According to a statement given by an Intel executive earlier this week, Windows 8 will ship on Ultrabooks next year. Intel is apaprently looking at the upcoming OS to provide the necessary leverage for the devices to properly take off in the market.
Tom Kilroy, Senior vice president and general manager of worldwide sales for Intel touched on the issue on Tuesday during an interview held at the company’s third quarter earnings call. Kilroy said that there can be as many as 60 Ultrabook designs available in the market by next year. He also said that “11 or so” models will be available as early as this year. Those won’t have Windows 8 of course but Intel is probably looking at an upgrade deal once Windows 8 is officially out. According to Kilroy, Windows 8 could really ramp up sales for Ultrabooks next year during the back-to-school and holiday seasons. He said the excitement around Windows 8 justifies this kind of an expectation from the upcoming platform.
After the Developer Preview build released last month, the beta release is expected to come by the end of this month or early next month. Intel’s introduction of the Ultrabook brand was made in the middle of this year and it is geared towards regenerating interest in PC’s in the face of waning consumer interest. All attention is now leaking away in to the tablet category, which is one of the fastest growing and most happening segments in the industry.
Ultrabooks have already been announced by major market players such as Asus, Acer, Toshiba and Lenovo. These models are based on Intel’s core processors that are built on the Sandy Bridge architecture. These portable devices have a passing resemble Apple’s MacBook Air in many aspect but are actually thinner in most cases. However, the problem that keep major market adoption of the Air also plagues the Ultrabooks — price. The ultrabooks currently sell at a price point of about $1000, which is deemed as too expensive by most consumers who are in the market for something portable and sleek. Given the state of the global economies and the price-sensitive state of the consumers, Intel said that it is still developing the Ultrabook standard and the prices might go down by the time next year comes around.
Intel Chief Paul Otellini said at the earnings call that prices might go down to as low as $699 by the time the holiday season kicks in next year, exactly one year from now. The depreciation of SSD’s and touchscreens are going to be major contributing factors in this price drop, according to Otellini. He also said that Intel has traditionally benefitted from Windows releases and they are expecting the same to happen this time around. Additionally, Kilroy suggested that Intel’s enterprise business is still being helped by the continued adoption of Windows 7 in that segment and the resultant laptop sales.
Otellini also commented about competition from ARM, saying that Intel can differentiate itself by providing legacy support. Additionally, ARM will only be able to run the Metro side of Windows 8, whilst x86 gets the full benefit of Metro as well as traditional desktop where heavy professional applications like Photoshop, Avid and Cubase can run.