While this year's IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin is a bonanza for anyone looking forward to buying an Ultrabook, there's another portable device which is conspicuous in its absence: ARM-powered laptops.
Although some pre-release devices were demonstrated at the Computex trade show in Taipei earlier this year by Microsoft, not a single stand at IFA has any ARM-powered laptops on display. Even the Nvidia stand, which had two tables filled with tablets alongside a single laptop and a single desktop PC, didn't know what the delay was.
"Regarding this, you need to contact Microsoft," Nvidia's EMEA PR man Igor Stanek told thinq_ at the event. "We are just the guys that are delivering the tech to their devices," he added, confirming that Tegra-powered devices are in the works but denying IFA attendees any pre-launch glimpses or hands-on time.
The image of Microsoft as the force behind the ARM-powered laptop launch, hinted at during Computex and all-but confirmed by Stanek, is in direct contrast to the company's public attitude. While Microsoft was keen to point out that Windows 8 would support the ARM architecture as well as the traditional x86 and x86-64, it has publicly distanced itself from the project and allowed OEMs to develop their own ARM-powered laptops ready for the operating system's release.
Comments made by Acer at IFA suggest Microsoft has a bigger input in things than would first appear, however. Speaking to ARMdevices.net, a 'high-ranking product strategy manager' at Acer claimed that the company would not be launching an ARM-powered laptop-style device until after Windows 8 is formally launched.
That decision comes despite the company's focus on ARM-powered Android-based devices elsewhere, which has seen it launch a series of smartphones and tablets featuring ARM processing cores.
Thus far, Microsoft has kept quiet on the matter and has not responded to our queries, but it looks likely that the Windows 8 launch will bring with it a flood of ARM-powered devices which will make this year's Ultrabook focus seem like a passing fad.