Some details are beginning to emerge of what we can expect from the first generation of Intel-based Windows 8 tablets. If the leaked specs of the Dell Windows 8 tablet are any indication, though, the devices may be severely underwhelming.
According to information shared by Neowin, the upcoming Dell tablet will sport a dual-core Intel Cloverleaf processor, 2GB of RAM, and 128GB of SSD storage. The RAM and storage capacity are larger than most of the tablets currently available, but this is an Intel x86 device, not an ARM-based tablet, so it's not as impressive as it sounds.
Forget for a minute that it's a tablet. Consider the hardware in your current Windows desktop or laptop. Most systems have quad-core processors and at least 4GB of RAM--and that's just enough to run smoothly. Many high-end desktops have processors with six or more cores, and 12GB or even 16GB of RAM.
To be fair, many entry-level laptops have specs similar to the Dell Windows 8 tablet--dual-core processors and 2GB of RAM--but they also cost only $300 or so. When someone buys a bargain laptop with hardware that just meets the minimum requirements to run Windows, they expect that performance will suffer.
Will users be willing to pay a premium to get that same mediocre system in tablet form? While there is no pricing yet announced for these Windows 8 tablets, it seems relatively safe to assume they'll cost more than $300. In fact, I won't be surprised if they come in somewhere between $700 and $1000.
Windows 8 RT tablets will probably have hardware specs and capabilities closer to existing tablets like the Apple iPad. Unfortunately, Windows 8 RT can't run traditional Windows software, and won't be able to connect to a Windows network domain, so it doesn't offer a very compelling proposition. Unless Windows 8 RT tablets are significantly cheaper than the iPad or Android counterparts, it may be tough for the devices to gain traction.
There are still more questions than answers, and we'll have to wait and see when the Windows 8 tablets hit the shelves. But, based on current and previous versions of the Windows operating system I am less than enthusiastic about the prospect of running Windows in 2GB of RAM on a dual-core processor.
A lot will depend on Microsoft, and even more will depend on the hardware vendors package the OS in. Even with a solid OS and tablet hardware, the cost of Windows 8 tablets could be a fatal flaw as well.