Tech Industry

Cheap Intel devices will run Google, Microsoft OSes, sources say

Really cheap Intel-based tablets and laptops will run Google and Microsoft operating systems, sources tell CNET.

HP Envy x2 tablet starts at around $599. Though new sub-$300 laptops do exist, like the HP 2000 series laptop, is a $200 Windows 8 touch device feasible?

Some inexpensive Intel-based laptops and tablets will come with Google's operating system, and others with Microsoft's, according to sources and analysts.

Intel CEO Paul Otellini earlier this week said touch devices could debut at prices as low as $200, as CNET reported. But the cheapest devices may be based on a non-Windows operating system, according to sources -- not necessarily Windows 8, as originally reported.

"There are design wins for Android tablets at that $200 price point. Intel will be participating in that market this year," a source familiar with Intel's plans told CNET.

A report in Digitimes on Friday said Intel is promoting "Android convertible notebooks" and that Lenovo, Hewlett-Packard, Toshiba, Acer, and Asus will launch products in the coming months.

That said, IDC's Bob O'Donnell told CNET on Friday that he has heard chatter about upcoming 7-inch Windows 8 tablets using Intel Atom processors priced as low as $299.

And IHS iSuppli's Craig Stice doesn't think $200 to $300 Windows 8 devices are out of the question.

"Spending [three times as much] on a PC vs. a $200 tablet is a big barrier that I feel has been a factor in the struggles the PC market endured the last year," he said.

Stice continued. "If the PC industry can in fact get down to these $200 to $300 price points...they're on a much more even playing field and demand can certainly be positively impacted," he said in an e-mail.

Microsoft said Thursday that future small devices will be priced competitively.

"We are...working closely with [PC makers] on a new suite of small touch devices powered by Windows. These devices will have competitive price points, partly enabled by our latest OEM offerings designed specifically for these smaller devices, and will be available in the coming months," Microsoft's chief financial officer, Peter Klein, said during the company's earnings call.

But even with Microsoft's rumored discounts for Windows 8 licensing and Office software, a $200 Windows 8 device may be difficult to sell at a profit, said the source.

Those discounts are aimed at smaller-screen Windows 8 touch devices, according to another source familiar with device makers' plans.

Note: New sub-$300 Windows 8 laptops do exist but new Windows 8 touch laptops and tablets currently average well over $500 in price.

HP's $329 Chromebook.  Intel-based devices running on non-Windows operating system could be priced as low as $200.
HP's $329 Chromebook. Intel-based devices running on non-Windows operating system could be priced as low as $200. Hewlett-Packard