Microsoft doesn’t plan to release the finished version of Windows 8 for tablets until this fall, so how can a company ship a tablet based on the new OS before then?
ViewSonic has big plans to expand its line of tablets this year including both Windows and Android-based models. But a story in the Taiwan-based publication Digitimes claims the company also plans to sell a tablet running Windows 8 before Microsoft officially releases the completed version of the new operating system.
“ViewSonic plans to launch Windows 8-based tablet PCs in the Taiwan market in the second quarter of 2012 at the earliest,” says the Digitimes article, quoting Max Liu, product marketing director of ViewSonic Asia Pacific.
But there were not other details in the piece related to Windows 8 except a mention that the new Windows 8 tablet will include a high resolution 10-inch display
[Editor's note: After this story appeared, a ViewSonic spokesperson sent the following comment to TabTimes: "ViewSonic expects Windows 8 in the market the second half of 2012, not the second quarter, and the company is working on a Windows 8 tablet solution to hit the market in the same timeframe]."
Tom’s Hardware speculates that ViewSonic could ship something that could be called a Windows 8 tablet next quarter by pre-installing the so-called Consumer Preview release due out the end of this month. The Consumer Preview is a beta test release of Windows 8 that Microsoft is going to make available to consumers to try out, but it’s not intended for resale. The article says it would also be a way to sell the tablet for less since there's no license fee associated with the Consumer Preview, but at least one analyst says he'd be shocked if that happened.
“They can’t possibly get a real license from Microsoft to sell tablets with the Consumer Preview release,” said analyst Roger Kay, president of Endpoint Technologies Associates. “Certainly they can demo Windows 8 systems all they want.”
In fact at the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, a number of companies showed tablets running the developer preview of Windows 8.
Kay speculates that if there is any truth to the report of ViewSonic’s plans it might be a scenario where it ships a Windows 7 tablet (with software officially paid for and licensed from Microsoft) that also includes the Consumer 8 version of Windows 8 for customers to try.
“But I still think this sounds very strange,” says Kay. “Microsoft makes clear you use beta software at your own risk and no one can sell it commercially.”
Microsoft could not be reached for comment by press time.