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Windows 8 Update: Bizarre 5-pound Android tablet morphs into Win8 all-in-one

If the small-form Windows 8 Surface Pro tablet/laptop made by Microsoft isn't confusing enough, check out the enormous Asus Android tablet that docks into a Windows 8 all-in-one stand.

When it's being lugged around (and 5.29-pound devices require lugging) the Transformer AiO P1801 is an 18.4-inch tablet that runs Android 4.1.

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But drop it into the all-in-one stand and it becomes a Windows 8 desktop, powered by a separate chip and operating system located in the stand.

If the stand and tablet are networked over a common Wi-Fi access point, the detached tablet can carry on running Windows 8 remotely from the stand.

There's a switch on the edge of the tablet for flipping between Windows 8 and Android. When the tablet is running independently it is powered by an Nvidia Tegra 3 Quad-core CPU. The stand comes with three CPU options: Intel Core i7 3770, i5 3350P or i3 3220.

If someone wants to be able to use the PC in the stand while the tablet is off doing something else, it's possible to buy a separate monitor to drop in, making the package a full Windows 8 all-in-one plus a separate Android tablet.

That tablet, Asus claims, boasts the world's largest Android tablet display. A Bluetooth keyboard and mouse come with the bundle. Battery life: five hours max.

A kickstand pops out the back of the tablet and can be set at anywhere between a zero- and 100-degree angle so it can be placed on a flat surface at an optimal tilt for viewing. A handle is built into the back of it to make lugging it easier.

AiO P1801 costs $1,299.

Samsung bails on Windows RT

Samsung had been selling a Windows RT device in Germany, but now says it won't, and that may apply to other European countries as well.

The company had already decided not to sell the Ativ Tab in the U.S. because it deemed there wasn't enough interest for Windows RT.

But it decided to try in Europe, and now has determined demand isn't high enough in Germany, either, according to a story on the Heise Online website. A Samsung spokesperson told the site that it hasn't decided whether to pull the device from shelves in other European countries.

Windows 8 clawing its way up

In four months since launching, Window 8 has captured 2.67 % market share among PC operating systems, though make that 2.77% if Windows 8 touch devices are tossed in.

Those numbers from NetMarketshare indicate a slow start for the operating system, and of more concern, the rate of growth seems to be slowing. In December last year it increased 0.63%, just 0.54% in January and then 0.41% in February.

Slashed OEM prices for Windows 8

In an apparent effort to address the dearth of inexpensive Windows 8 devices, Microsoft has been slashing the prices it charges computer makers to license the operating system, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The discounts have been steep. One example given in the report was that a bundle of Windows 8 and Microsoft Office was cut from $120 per seat to $30 for touchscreen devices That's just for devices with screens smaller than 10.8 inches. Anything bigger and the discount doesn't include Office.

The article quotes Jerry Shen, CEO of Asus: "Microsoft has been making many efforts lately that I cannot talk about in specific, but that will help give momentum to the notebook and netbook and Eee PC [Asus's netbook line] area. I believe Asus will have the opportunity in the third or fourth quarter to get back this sector, with a better selling price than before."

Kinect-on-Surface pipe dream

Microsoft wants to make its Kinect motion-sensing technology small enough to fit into its Surface tablets, bringing them the capability to control the devices via gesture input.

At least that's the goal, said Craig Mundie, chief research and strategy officer for Microsoft, at its TechFest 2013 science fair this week, according to a story on The Verge website.

"You want to be as cheap as possible and physically as small as possible," he says. "My dream is to get a Kinect into the bezel of something like this [Surface tablet] ... It's not gonna happen tomorrow, but we can see a path towards that sort of thing."

Tim Greene covers Microsoft for Network World and writes the Mostly Microsoft blog. Reach him at tgreene@nww.com and follow him on Twitter @Tim_Greene.

Read more about software in Network World's Software section.


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