There's been a notable shift in the PC market over the last three years. PC makers used to time big hardware upgrades around the launch of new versions of Windows, and the latest and greatest hardware required the latest version of Windows. Now, OEMs have choices -- and they're using them.
Sony this morning unveiled its slickest tablet yet – a 10.1 inch, waterproof tablet that's even thinner than the iPad Mini, at 6.9 millimeters thick. Equipped with NFC and LTE, it was designed for Japan, where it will be launched some time in the spring.
So what OS did Sony choose to use on its latest and greatest? Not Windows 8. The Sony Tablet Z Xperia will run Android 4.1, "Jellybean," the latest version of Android used on Google's Nexus 7 and other recent tablets.
It's the latest launch of a new machine that Microsoft has failed to secure for its camp, despite its best efforts to redesign Windows 8 to win more tablet sales.
Sony is selling a couple of Windows 8 tablets, but they're odd. They're big – 20 inches and 11.6 inches – and designed to be used with a full keyboard, more like a laptop, than like a tablet.
As the weeks tick by, it's getting harder to explain away the unremarkable launch of Windows 8. Some observers suggested that OEMs didn't have enough time to play with the new OS in order to build innovative hardware around it. Others said that component shortages were slowing them down. But those excuses are sounding thin as OEMs like Sony choose to base their newest models on Android instead of Windows 8.
The Sony Tablet Z Experia launch comes on the heels of news from last week that Lenovo is offering a new ThinkPad, targeted exclusively to the education market, that runs Google's Chrome. While that's not the latest and greatest hardware, it's actually a major shift for the ThinkPad, traditionally one of the most iconic laptops used by enterprises.