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HP abandons plans to build Windows RT tablet

Hewlett-Packard has tabled plans for a consumer-targeted Windows RT tablet powered by a Qualcomm-designed ARM processor and will instead focus on a business slate using the version of Microsoft's next-generation Windows 8 operating system optimised for x86-based chipsets.

What's not entirely clear is whether Microsoft's announcement that it's making its own Windows RT tablet, the Surface, had any impact on HP's decision-making process. Microsoft revealed the Surface on 18 June at an event in Los Angeles, immediately sparking speculation that the company's OEM channel might rebel against the notion of their software partner producing a competitive device.

Microsoft hasn't named a release date for the Surface, which will come in a Windows RT version that uses an ARM chip and a Windows 8 flavour sporting an x86 chipset, one of Intel's Medfield generation of Atom SoCs. The latter silicon platform is what HP will be building on with its first Windows 8 tablet, the company told PCMag.

The tech blog SemiAccurate and The Wall Street Journal both reported Friday that HP is postponing the development of any tablet devices running Windows RT and powered by ARM chips.

In response to those articles, an HP spokesperson said the following:

"I can confirm that at HP, we continue to look at using ARM processors in business and consumer products. However, our first Win 8 tablet will be on the x86 platform focused on the business market. The decision to go with x86 was influenced by input from our customers. The robust and established ecosystem of x86 applications provides the best customer experience at this time and in the immediate future."

That doesn't exactly confirm SemiAccurate blogger Charlie Demerjian's report that HP specifically dumped its Windows RT tablet plans over the Surface. But the spokesperson's response to our inquiries does seem designed to damn the potential of Windows RT-based tablets with pretty faint praise.

Interestingly, one PCMag source familiar with HP and Microsoft said HP had gone so far as to build out a Windows RT tablet using a Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset but scrapped those plans more than two weeks ago.

If that's the case, HP's decision was made before the Surface was revealed publicly. Perhaps HP was given advance notice of Microsoft's Surface plans and made its decision in light of that news, but the source couldn't confirm that.