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Windows 8 ultrabooks to go 100 percent touch, see gains

Ultrabooks will soon be 100 percent touch. And touch laptops made gains in August, NPD says.

HP Spectre XT TouchSmart Windows 8 ultrabook.
HP Spectre XT TouchSmart Windows 8 ultrabook. Hewlett-Packard

Windows 8 is all about touch, and consumers may finally be buying into that message.

At Intel's annual developers forum this week, Intel Senior President Kirk Skaugen said that 70 percent of retail ultrabooks are now touch -- "on the way to 100 percent."

Windows 8 touch-screen ultrabooks fall into three basic categories: standard clamshell laptops with touch screens, hybrid convertibles with swivel touch displays, and detachables that separate from a keyboard base to become a standalone tablet.

Though ultrabooks are still a minor share of total Windows PC sales, there has been a recent jump in the growth of touch laptops, according to Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis at the NPD Group.

"Touch has been doing much better in August than in any other month," Baker said in a response to an e-mail query.

August market share for touch is about 30 percent of all Windows 8 notebooks at retail, he said. That's a big improvement over the first three months of the year when touch-enabled laptops were only about 10 percent of Windows 8 notebooks at retail, according to NPD.

The August share increase was due to "a good number of under-$500 Win 8 touch notebooks. I am increasingly optimistic that Touch will drive significant volumes this holiday," he said.

And Intel is pushing touch big time. In January, Intel mandated that fourth-generation Core "Haswell" ultrabooks must have touch.

"Intel added touch to the [ultrabook] spec so, by definition, an ultrabook now must be touch," said Bob O'Donnell, an analyst at IDC.

O'Donnell added that although prospects for touch at retail appear to be improving now, touch share had remained low -- in the single digits -- for much of the year.

"Yeah, the numbers are improving pretty dramatically now," but the earlier low growth may force IDC to adjust its forecast down for the full year, he said.

Intel talks ultrabooks at IDF this week.
Intel talks ultrabooks at its Intel Developer Forum this week in San Francisco. Intel