Barcelona is, once again, set to host the 2014 edition of Mobile World Congress in around a week or so. The biggest and best phone makers on Earth are going to assemble on February 24 to showcase their latest creations.
While the event usually is more about smartphones, but since the M in MWC stands for mobile, tablets makers are also increasingly using the opportunity to show off their upcoming solutions.
Sure, not everyone will be launching tablets, but you can expect plenty of Samsung models to make appearances at MWC 2014, along with a few rumored devices from companies like ASUS, Sony, Huawei, maybe even a Firefox OS prototype from Mozilla.
Interestingly, we just might get to see some slates powered by Windows at the event, as there is talk that some hardware vendors are bringing the goods at the prestigious gathering.
The M and N of It
Microsoft, along with Nokia, has been carrying the flag when it comes to tablets powered by its modern operating system. The Finnish company joined in the Windows RT fun with the Lumia 2520, its first Windows based tablet, and first tablet period — since the Nokia Internet Tablet line, that is.
Even though the device was met with positive review upon launch (being the first Windows RT tablet to offer cellular capabilities), we have not heard much about its sales performance. We do know, however, that Nokia reportedly cancelled the launch of a smaller 8-inch version.
Long story short, Nokia will be heavily focused on launching its Android lineup of devices, instead of a new tablet. And while the timing of this event ties into Microsoft’s launch of 4G LTE capable Surface slates and a Surface Mini, Redmond will most probably want to save these for BUILD 2014.
It’s All In The Bits
Obviously, one of the biggest reasons why Windows tablet fans were alienated was because the PC hardware industry was playing its dirty game of holding back innovation. PC hardware industry, in this case, largely implies Intel, with its x86 (or 32-bit) Atom processors.
Unlike ARM, the x64 technology for Atom processors was almost ready to go around (and after) the time Windows 8 launched. But the chip giant preferred resting on it for another season, and performance of these first generation Windows 8.1 Pro tablets suffered as a result. Suffered, a lot, actually.
While substantial improvements have been made in newer Bay Trail processors, Intel is now ready to move to the 64-bit process for its Atom lineup. And hardware vendors are expected to follow suit. There are whispers that at least one OEM is ready to showcase a Windows powered 64-bit slate.
The Rest of the Gang
The usual suspects like ASUS, Acer, HP and Lenovo, once again, seem to be focused on their Android solutions instead of those powered by Windows. But there is a chance that Samsung may pull off a surprise and show off a dual boot device — or maybe even a dedicated Windows slate, as reported.
The Korean giant is in an aggressive mood right now, and did everything it could to amaze and dazzle at the recently concluded CES 2014 with a bunch of tablets. There are even early rumors that Sony is preparing a Windows slate, to go with a Windows Phone 8.1 handset.
But expecting the company to show a working prototype is probably grasping at straws.
Ultimately the biggest news for Windows tablets at MWC 2014 remains Intel and its 64-bit Bay Trail processors. We may get an early look at a few of these devices at the event. And it just may provide a hint at the Windows-on-tablets landscape, at least until the second half of the year.
Keep an eye out for details on these, starting next week!