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Of Quad Core Tablets and Windows 8

Rarely do Microsoft appearances at TechEd New Zealand generate this much excitement. But this week, when Microsoft principal architect Patrick Hevesi carted out a prototype quad core tablet aimed at next year's release of Windows 8, the rumor mill went into overdrive. Surely, this is the machine Microsoft intends to give to BUILD attendees next month, despite the fact that Hevesi never said such a thing and Microsoft has never promised a hardware giveaway. Surely.

Here's what really happened.

First, Hevesi only briefly showed a prototype tablet of some kind. It looked like an iPad 2, but its specs were never discussed. In a separate video interview--in which that device did not appear--Hevesi discussed some general plans for Windows 8 slates. These two separate events have been mashed up into a single event and, with made up additional details, been turned into something fantastical.

Case in point: Some people who attended the Hevesi talk say that the tablet was running Windows 7, not Windows 8.

Wa wa waaaah.

Microsoft does indeed expect Windows 8 to run on a variety of iPad-like slate hardware from a variety of PC makers, beginning in 2012. According to Hevesi, these tablets, and related thin and light machines such as Ultrabooks (think Macbook Air look-alikes) will sport dual- and quad-core CPUs, Bluetooth keyboards, mice, and pens (for the slates), and get up to 24 hours on a single battery charge.

See actual news there? Me neither. OK, today's Windows PCs can get as much as 14 hours of battery life already, and Lenovo sells a few machines that can hit 24 to 30 hours of life with clip-on "slice" batteries. And we know that quad core tablets are shipping this year ... running Windows 7.

Too, these coming machines will sport "brilliant HD screens," though I'd remind you that all notebooks sold today already do that: 1366 x 768 actually exceeds the lowest end HD resolution (1280 x 720) and is the most common screen resolution offered right now. However, Hevesi says these devices will sport 1080p resolution (1920 x 1080), which is indeed uncommon on portable computers. They should arrive just in time to look inferior to the expected iPad 3 retina display (2048 x 1536, if rumors are to be believed).

The point here is simple: We already know all this stuff. And we do expect Microsoft to have some sort of tablet giveaway for BUILD attendees, since that's the best way for developers to get started on developing new apps for this platform. So the rumors all make sense. But we didn't really learn anything new here. Instead, we were just reminded about how excited we are about Windows 8.

BUILD can't happen quickly enough. I can't wait. 

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