Windows 8 tablets "closer to competitive" than expected: ARM-based Win-slates in late 2011?

Microsoft's tablet ambitions may reach fruition a lot earlier than previously expected, according to the latest leaks from the company, with Windows 8 based slates running frugal ARM chipsets tipped for as early as the end of this year. Business Insider's sources claim Microsoft has set around 1,000 engineers to work on ARM-based Windows performance, while a Morgan Stanley analyst has suggested the company is "closer to competitive than some realize." However, even as the iPad picks up in enterprise adoption, Microsoft is still raking in cash based on the success of the Apple slate.

That, according to analyst Adam Holt, is because enterprise users demand virtual desktop support on their iPads for existing Microsoft installations. "Where iPads are being deployed, corporates are often leveraging virtual desktops to provision Windows and Windows apps" he suggests, going on to claim that "MSFT generally gets $100/device in this scenario."

All well and good, but Microsoft will need Windows 8 to be a sales success if it wants a proper foot in the tablet market. The OS is expected to be particularly tablet-centric, and by shifting away from native support of just x86 processors the power limitations of Intel and AMD processors versus ARM-based chipsets – which are already competing on performance and graphics crunching abilities – the new Windows 8 models should be able to rival iOS and Android slates for battery life and multimedia as well.