Asus Confirms Smaller Windows 8 Tablets, Sub-$300 Prices

Asus Chief Executive Jerry Shen recently told The Wall Street Journal that the company plans to sell small Windows 8 tablets this year. He also expects to see prices for Windows 8-based tablets fall below $300, which in turn should help Microsoft gain more ground in the tablet sector. Windows 8 only commanded less than 4 percent of the tablet market during 1Q13.

"We're very optimistic about sales for Windows 8 tablets this year," Shen said.

Asus has done well with its own string of low-cost, 7-inch Android tablets, and is the manufacturer behind Google's highly popular Nexus 7. Asus is also currently the "low-price leader" when it comes to Windows 8 tablets, selling the VivoTab Smart tablet for $449.99 at Best Buy. However, Shen expects to see prices of smaller Windows 8 tablets cost a mere $50 more than similar models using Google's Android OS.

As reported on Friday, Amazon briefly published a listing sporting an 8.1-inch Acer tablet based on Windows 8 Pro and a dual-core Atom Z2760 SoC with 2 GB of RAM. At the time, the pricing was $379.99, and very well could have been a placeholder since the listing wasn't meant to go live. While that's not exactly cheap given the form factor, considerations for the seemingly steep price include Windows 8 licensing, the amount of internal storage and the amount of installed RAM.

These smaller tablets from Acer, Asus and other ODMs are expected to ship with Windows 8.1, the next incremental release slated to debut as a Public Preview during BUILD 2013 next month. The update brings a number of improvements, and is reportedly spearheading Microsoft's move into the smaller tablet segment. This "blue" update blanket also includes Windows Phone, Windows RT and Windows Server 2012.

During the first quarter of 2013, Asus reportedly fell in third place in tablet shipments, pushing 2.7 million units in that quarter. The company followed Samsung, which sold 8.8 million units and Apple, which commanded the tablet market with 19.5 million units. Amazon was fourth on the list with 1.8 million units, while Microsoft only pushed 900,000 tablets.

"Recent rumors have circulated about the possibility of smaller screen Windows RT and Windows 8 tablets hitting the market," said Ryan Reith, Program Manager for IDC's Mobility Tracker program. "However, the notion that this will be the saving grace is flawed. Clearly the market is moving toward smart 7-8 inch devices, but Microsoft's larger challenges center around consumer messaging and lower cost competition. If these challenges are addressed, along with the desired screen size variations, then we could see Microsoft make even further headway in 2013 and beyond."

In addition to Acer and Asus, Microsoft is planning to launch its own smaller Surface tablets later this year.

  • slomo4sho
    "We're very optimistic about sales for Windows 8 tablets this year,"
    Optimistic and Windows 8 shouldn't be in the same sentence.
  • the1kingbob
    Although I think Win8 is pretty bad for the cooperate environment, these tablets at that price peek my interest as a student. I would probably have paid $300 for a Win8 tablet instead of buying my Nexus7. I really enjoy my Nexus7, but having the convenience of a full OS is hard to beat.
  • stevejnb
    The1kingbob, I may have missed it, but did it specify "Windows 8 Pro" in there? If not, these may be metro tablets, and as such, no full OS for you/us.
    If they DO start releasing pro tablets at sub $300 prices and they actually work half decently, those will be winners, and in my opinion, far more bang for your buck than almost anything out there. If it's metro though, you may as well go Android unless you *really* want the official MS software suite to play around with.
  • lpedraja2002
    The more I wait the better these things are made year after year. I think I'll wait more, I want at least a 13"tablet 720p screen and a good APU for cheap, with full Windows 8 OS of course.
  • the1kingbob
    stevejnb, I took it that they were talking about Win8 and not Win8RT since the products they mention as comparisons are Win8.
  • cscott_it
    Yeah - these are supposed to be Atom based Windows 8 Pro devices. Honestly, I've been waiting for these. It would be nice to have an affordable tablet that can run desktop apps. I think this has really been Microsoft's biggest barrier into the tablet space.
    No matter what type of mobile OS they release - everyone is going to compare it to their desktop product. It's one the pains of having created the defacto standard of operating systems - everything else you do will be compared to it on emotional and functional levels. (See all the kafuffle about the start menu).
    Back on topic though, I'm a little surprised that they would accept the gambit of releasing these on the current gen Atom series of processors than delaying a product launch for the much improved newer Atom's that are just around the corner.
    My thoughts are that this means more competition within the lower price range market and more pressure on other mobile devices (whether it actualizes into a threat doesn't matter, the pressure is there).
  • m32
    I don't think my eyes can take an 7' tablet using Win8....
  • g00fysmiley
    sub $300 and x86 looks nice in theory btu need to see some full specs, if ithey are low res or like the surface pro tablets have very little space left after operating system then what is the point
  • GabZDK
    I not the first student to see a promising future in these kinds of tablets, but what I'm most excited about is AMD take on tablets with Temash and turbo dock tech. If these two things can progress, then maybe Windows 8 isn't completely lost
  • w8gaming
    Hmm, the article does not really confirm anything. And they did not mention the sub $300 price is for a full-blown Windows 8 OS. I suppose they meant it is for RT. At the current stage of Windows Store, I would say the RT device will not sell even at sub $300 price. If Microsoft is really serious about RT, they should start making apps for RT themselves instead of waiting for other developers. The fact is that most developers are not interested in RT, and many of them already have software running in x86 Windows so they feel no immediate need to write new app for the Metro environment. No apps, means no sales, no matter how cheap RT has become. Even if people buy a cheap $300 tablet, you can bet they are converting the OS to Android (like what happened to HP). Either MS should give up on RT, or start making effort to actually make some useful apps for it.