XPS 10 has disappeared -- but will it be replaced?

At the 2013 Intel Developer Forum (IDF), Dell Inc. (DELL) hinted at a Oct. 2 launch event for a new family of Venue tablets.  The big question was whether Intel would have any place in Dell's tablets.  At the time Dell was selling the XPS 10 tablet, which ran Windows RT on top of Qualcomm, Inc.'s (QCOM) Snapdragon S4 -- an ARM architecture chip.

Now the tables have turned.

At IDF Dell made it clear than Intel Corp.'s (INTC) new 22 nm tablet system-on-a-chip designs -- Bay Trail -- will be onboard at least some of the Venue models.  And this week the XPS 10 disappeared from Dell's website -- apparently discontinued.  The tablet had seen poor sales and numerous price cuts as Dell struggled to sell consumers on its ARM device.

Now people are asking the reverse -- do ARM chipmakers have any place in Windows tablets?

Dell XPS 10
The Dell XPS 10 docked (bottom) and undocked (top)

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) has defiantly announced that it is sticking to its support of ARM processors -- which are found in the Google Inc. (GOOG) Android designs that lead the market and in second-place Apple, Inc.'s (AAPL) iPad.  Microsoft has committed to launch Windows 8.1 RT, a refresh to the ARM-based version of Windows, along side Windows 8.1 for x86.

Dell XPS 10
The Dell XPS 10 is MIA on Dell's webpage.

Microsoft this week announced that the Surface 2 would run Windows 8.1 RT and feature a Tegra 4 ARM processor from NVIDIA Corp. (NVDA).  But so far Microsoft is the only OEM to announce a Windows 8.1 RT device.  And the only other prototype Windows RT device pictured thus far has been a tablet from Microsoft's new hardware subsidiary Nokia Oyj. (HEX:NOK1V).

It appears the Lenovo Group, Ltd. (HKG:0992), ASUSTek Computer, Inc. (TPE:2357), and Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KSC:005930) have all pulled the plug on Windows RT support, announcing Intel-based Windows 8.1 tablet designs, but no Windows 8.1 RT products.  Others have simply reaffirmed their unwillingness to produce ARM-based tablets -- like Acer Inc. (TPE:2353).

ARM engineers
Windows OEMs have seen weak sales of ARM-powered products.
[Image Source: My Statesman]

Some believe that Dell may buck its fellow OEMs trend of dismissing Windows 8.1 RT.  But many analysts say it would not be surprising to see Dell pull the plug too.  Comments Jack Gold, principal analyst at J. Gold Associates in an interview with PC World, "I just don’t see why you would stop selling your existing product until the new product comes out.  If they do, they will be bucking the trend of other vendors getting out of RT."

In other words the notion that Dell simply suspended sales to prepare for a next generation Windows 8.1 RT tablet may just be wishful thinking.

Sources: Dell, PCWorld

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