Acer this morning officially unveiled its long-rumored Iconia W3 tablet, billed as the first 8-inch tablet to run Windows 8. This is not a Windows RT device running on an ARM processor. It’s a Windows 8 machine, using an Intel Atom chip, that can run traditional Windows programs and comes with a version of Microsoft Office pre-installed.
The tablet will start at $379.99 for a 32GB version, with promised battery life of up to 8 hours.
Note the positioning of the start button in the frame in the picture above. Unlike many other Windows 8 or Windows RT tablets, it’s designed to be used in portrait mode, with a smaller screen size and aspect ration that takes advantage of Microsoft’s relaxed specifications for Windows 8 machines.
Engadget has hands-on impressions from the Computex trade show in Taiwan, where the device was unveiled.
The announcement comes amid new questions about Windows RT, the variant of Windows 8 that runs on energy-efficient ARM chips but doesn’t support legacy Windows applications.
Bloomberg reports that Microsoft is reducing the price it charges tablet makers to use Windows RT, trying to encourage adoption on smaller devices. Acer Chairman J.T. Wang tells the Wall Street Journal that the company sees Windows RT having less influence, noting that Acer hasn’t decided whether to make an RT device.
Microsoft Windows marketing chief Tami Reller said in an interview with GeekWire last month that the company has no plans to abandon its support for ARM-based devices. “We are very committed to the ARM platform,” she said. “We certainly know that’s a question in the marketplace. We want to leave no doubt about our commitment to ARM.”