Intel has started shipping the fourth generation Haswell chips for tablets, which brings power-efficient processors and hence much better battery life to Windows tablets. According to IDG, Intel has now started shipping new low-power, fourth-generation Core i3 processors, including one that draws as little as 4.5 watts of power in specific usage scenarios.
These new Haswell processors could go into fanless tablets and laptop-tablet hybrids, bringing longer battery life to the devices. This is a great news for Windows lovers, who have had to sacrifice performance for battery life (and vice versa) until now. Tablets like Microsoft Surface Pro offered good performance but poor battery life which negated the basic use of a tablet. And tablets like Surface RT offered better battery life, but compromised on performance with a dumbed down version of Windows 8, and has hence proved a non-mover in tablet space.
In fact, the sales for Windows RT tablets were so poor that OEMs like Asus, Samsung and HP withdrew completely from Windows RT based products. Microsoft itself had to write down a whopping $900 million on poor Surface RT sales. The major reason for Microsoft to push Windows RT was because it could run on ARM based processors and hence promised better battery life as compared to Intel core processors.
Haswell changes them all
Now, with almost 50% better battery life as promised by Intel for Windows tablets, the OEMs have no real need to come out with Windows RT based tablets and hybrids anymore. In fact, we hardly saw any new Win RT based products at IFA 2013 in Berlin. Nick Reynolds, the marketing chief for Lenovo in Australia, admitted that ultra low-power Haswell chips have eradicated the choice between long battery life and high performance for Windows 8 based portable devices.
Windows RT comes with a lot of compromises. As we explained in our detailed comparison, Windows RT is heavily dumbed down version of Windows 8, with only a handful of applications being available even after an year of its launch. There are no proper ways to sideload the applications, and that heavily hampers the experience and performance one expects from a Windows device.
Haswell is turning out to be a big hope for Windows 8 tablets which aims to outsmart the hugely popular iPad and Android tablets, which are still more of content consumption devices. Windows 8 has had to face lot of challenges in acceptance by wider public due to the new touch-based interface. With a day-long battery life now being possible on proper Windows 8 based tablets, Microsoft has one less thing to worry about.