Microsoft is all set to officially launch the next iteration of Windows, version 8.1, in October. Towards this, volume production of notebook devices based on Windows Blue is set to kick off in September. However, it remains to be seen is whether a new version of Windows will be enough to spur demand in the notebook segment that is finding increasing competition from tablet devices. The fact that Microsoft isn’t extending any incentive to the notebook manufacturers, such as reduced licensing fees, isn’t helping things either. As of now, Microsoft is offering licensing subsidies for devices with a display size smaller than 11.6 inches.
Meanwhile, in another related development, Microsoft is all set to enter the budget tablet segment with a new Surface RT variant that will have a display of 8 inches and is set for a June launch. The tablet is likely to sport a price tag of around $249 – $299 and is being put together by Pegatron Technology. The 8 inch touch panels are being sourced from Samsung and will be built around a Tegra chip. A bigger 10.x inch Surface RT is also in the pipeline, which will be launched during Q3 this year. However, analysts are skeptical about the success of the smaller Surface RT device, considering the less than enthusiastic response the bigger cousin managed to evoke. Further, competition is set to become even more fierce in the smaller tablet segment with Apple and Google set to launch follow up devices to their successful devices, the iPad Mini and Nexus 7. Samsung also has a few offerings lined up in the budget tablet segment, as well. Microsoft is expecting sales of the two Surface RT variants to reach a million units a month.
There is no word though what the successor to the Surface Pro will be like. Microsoft’s tablet sales in the first quarter of 2013 have stood at 900,000 units, with Surface Pro being the majority contributor to that figure.