Microsoft CFO Peter Klein confirmed during the company's Q313 earnings call that Windows 8 is coming to smaller devices. The news follows previous reports and rumors that the touchy new platform will be made available on tablet form factors ranging between 7-inches and 9-inches using ARM-based and Intel "Bay Trail"-based chips.
In a Q&A session during the earnings call, Klein acknowledged that the transition to Windows 8 hasn't been easy, but the company remains excited about the opportunities that lay ahead. The new platform has prepared Microsoft for the transition from desktop to touch devices, but there's still a lot of work to be done. Despite that, Microsoft is extremely "comfortable" about where the Windows 8 path is leading the company.
He also hinted to the Windows 8.1 "Blue" release, saying that Microsoft is working on "expanding and improving the experience." Not just for Surface, he said, but for Windows 8 devices at multiple price points including lower price points going forward. This backs up a statement made by Intel CEO Paul Otellini who previously said that many upcoming Windows 8 solutions will drop down into the $200 price point.
"If you look at touch-enabled Intel-based notebooks that are ultrathin using [Bay Trail] processors, those prices are going to be down to as low as $200," he said.
Microsoft's Klein first hinted to a move into the smaller tablet market in February during a Q&A session at the Goldman Sachs Technology & Internet Conference. When asked about Microsoft's plans for the 7- to 9-inch tablet market, he said that Microsoft has done a lot of hard work in the developer platform.
"We are well set up to respond to demand as we see it [with different-sized form factors]", he answered. Windows CFO Tami Reller said something similar, confirming that Windows 8 was designed from the start to run on smaller and bigger screens at different resolutions, enabled by an app-based platform/model.
The smaller sizes will reportedly be pushed to ODMs in Microsoft's Windows Blue release later this summer which includes Windows 8.1, Windows Phone 8.1 and an updated Widows RT. Although Microsoft has confirmed the Windows Blue rollout, the company has yet to reveal actual details. Leaked builds have provided some clues including a possible Start screen bypass, the return of the Start menu on the desktop, and support for smaller screen sizes.
Looking ahead, these smaller devices should help the Redmond company better penetrate the tablet market and possibly liven the current Windows 8 sales slump. Microsoft has already confirmed that the Surface brand was not done, that there will be more to come in the future despite a tepid reception to both models. That said, expect a large line of Windows 8 gadgets from ODMs and Microsoft to be introduced possibly at BUILD 2013 in June, if not shortly thereafter.