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Asus to release smaller, lower priced Windows 8 tablets this year

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Asus Tablet 600
Asus Tablet 600

After months of rumors that smaller, cheaper Windows 8 tablets are on the way, Asus will reportedly release such a tablet later this year. Jerry Shen, Asus' CEO, also told the Wall Street Journal that he believes prices for Windows 8 tablets will drop to an average of $300 before the year's end. Currently, most Windows 8 tablets are priced around $400 to $500, with displays of about 10-inches, so a cheaper option would give Windows a chance to compete more directly with the likes of Apple's iPad Mini and Google's Nexus 7.

Microsoft knows all this, and knows that it needs to get into the mini tablet game. So far, Asus appears to only be joined by Acer with plans to create a smaller Windows 8 tablet. On Friday, we saw an an 8.1-inch Acer tablet appear briefly on Amazon. Microsoft is also rumored to be building a 7-inch Surface tablet that could launch later this year.

Does anybody want a small Windows 8 tablet?

One matter that is still unclear at this point is what version of Windows 8 Asus' mini slates will run. Choosing between Microsoft's two versions of Windows 8 has been a contentious issue. Acer President Jim Wong said there's "no value" in Windows RT, although that company has said it was committed to making Windows RT products. And there's still the open question as to whether or not anybody wants to buy a smaller Windows 8 tablet. With Surface sales sluggish so far, and Microsoft failing to clearly state how many copies of the Windows 8 it's sold to date, we just don't know yet if Windows tablets can match the success we've already seen on Android and iOS.