Dell remains committed to Microsoft's Windows RT, despite the poor market reception to the OS and a decline in prices of related tablets.
The company has "future generations" of its XPS 10 tablet, which runs Windows RT, under development, said Neil Hand, vice president at Dell.
The upcoming tablets will be lighter and faster, though Hand did not provide any further details on release dates or specifications of the XPS 10 successor.
Microsoft shipped Windows RT for ARM-based devices and Windows 8 for Intel-based devices in October last year. The XPS 10 was released to positive reviews shortly after, with prices starting at US$499. The tablet now starts at $449, and Windows RT tablets are offered by Samsung, Asus and Microsoft, whose Surface RT starts at $499.
At the time of its release, there were many questions on how users would adapt to Windows RT, which is a tablet-optimized OS, while Windows 8 provides the tablet and traditional desktop PC experience. Windows RT does not support applications that ran in old versions of Windows, which raised confusion among potential buyers on which OS to buy.
Hand acknowledged that the adoption of Windows RT had its challenges, but that the OS has a chance to succeed as users gain familiarity.
"It's turned slower than we were hoping at this point in time," Hand said.
Helping customers understand the OS's limits is an ongoing challenge, but Dell's customers who have XPS 10 love the device, Hand said.
Improvements are being made to the OS, Hand noted. In addition, there are more than 50,000 applications available via Microsoft's store for Windows 8 and RT, and the number is growing everyday.
"Over the long haul it shouldn't matter if it is Windows on ARM, Windows on Intel, Windows on anything else," Hand said.
Dell's backing of RT is a glimmer of hope for the OS, which has been acknowledged as a failure by some hardware companies. Prices of RT tablets have been falling, and Acer executives have said that Microsoft has not pumped enough money into marketing the OS. Nvidia's CEO Jen-Hsun Huang said he was disappointed with the poor response to Windows RT.
Dell today offers two business tablets with 10-inch screens, but is keeping the door open to releasing tablets with smaller screen sizes. The other tablet being sold by Dell is the Latitude 10, which runs Windows 8 and has the Intel tablet chip code-named Clover Trail.
"We'll over time make sure we are strong and aggressive in the consumer price/consumption driven piece of the market," Hand said.
The company is closely watching the response to Hewlett-Packard's upcoming Slate 7, which will go on sale later this month starting at $169. But Hand declined to say if the company's upcoming tablets would go in the sub-$200 range, saying it will respond to market needs.
The company's focus right now is around 10-inch tablets, as they can accommodate a larger battery and be used in laptop mode with a keyboard attached. Dell is also focusing more on a bundling a strong software package in tablets with applications like PocketCloud, which provides access to files over the cloud.
Dell is currently on the block to go private. CEO Michael Dell and equity firm Silver Lake Partners on Feb. 5 offered to take Dell private for $24.4 billion, with the proposed deal including a $2 billion loan from Microsoft. However, counteroffers have been made by other investment groups led by Blackstone Group and Carl Icahn, respectively.
In response to customer concerns about the company's direction in case of a buyout, Dell has said it will continue to invest in tablets and PCs. Dell in recent years has focused on enterprise products while moving away from low-end consumer PCs.
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