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This Windows 8 tablet might actually be a PC

First Windows RT device makes the case that ARM processors could power PCs

The first announced Windows 8 tablet powered by an ARM processor does a lot to explain why Microsoft has persisted in calling any Windows 8 device a PC.

The product in question: The Asus Windows RT Tablet 600 touted to be the first consumer Windows RT device the world has ever seen, according to an Nvidia video about the 600. Nvidia makes the Tegra 3 quadcore mobile processor that powers the device.

Despite including the word tablet its name, the 600 sports a removable keyboard that turns it into a notebook suitable for working comfortably with the Microsoft Office applications that come as part of the package.

BACKGROUND: Asus shows off ARM-based Windows 8 tablet 

MORE: Windows RT management could be a key to success for Windows 8 tablets

Both the keyboard and Office applications set it apart from the popular iPad tablets that it will compete with. They also demonstrate that running Windows 8 on a power-pinching ARM-based device doesn’t mean having to forfeit key PC features.

Microsoft has a vested interest in fending off the death of the PC, so its insistence on referring to any Windows device as PC has been regarded skeptically by some as semantics. This category of Windows RT device could go a long way to dispel such talk.

Window RT is the flavor of Windows 8 that comes packaged with ARM hardware and supports mainly Metro style applications (that means no legacy PC applications) that are is heavily touch-centric. A notable exception is the Office 15 applications that are traditional desktop versions.

Microsoft says Windows RT supports “the Windows desktop experience” that includes File Explorer and a desktop version of the Internet Explorer browser. (Windows RT also includes a Metro style version of IE.) Catering to the desktop is another nod to traditional PCs.

If Microsoft wants to keep the PC alive, this Asus device helps. It has all the features of a tablet that tablet users might want but it also supports the well understood and comfortable keyboard interface that PC users have come to know.

Intel and Apple have mocked this attempt to be a tablet and a PC at the same time, but this Asus device makes it seem plausible.

(Tim Greene covers Microsoft for Network World and writes the Mostly Microsoft blog. Reach him at tgreene@nww.com and follow him on Twitter https://twitter.com/#!/Tim_Greene.)

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