Will Windows 8 Save the Ultrabook?

Here’s the scoop on Ultrabooks: they’re not quite as exciting as mobile devices and tablets.

For example, Acer is releasing a line of Ultrabooks powered by Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) processors, and designed to run on Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) new Windows 8 platform. But an entry-level price point of $1,200 is one reason why IHS iSuppi recently dropped its Ultrabook shipment forecast for 2012 from 22 million to 10.3 million units. IHS senior principal analyst Craig Stice said in a statement, “So far, the PC industry has failed to create the kind of buzz and excitement among consumers that is required to propel Ultrabooks into the mainstream.”

He continues, “When combined with other factors, including prohibitively high pricing, this means that Ultrabook sales will not meet expectations in 2012.”

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Intel may be hit particularly hard by the drop. A month ago, the company cut $1.1 billion from its outlook for earnings in the third quarter. Intel hopes its new Haswell chip, slated to ship in mid-2013, will become the standard for Ultrabooks. But if demand is low, the chip may never see success. Intel is relying on Windows 8 to create that demand.

Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) and Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) will also be making Ultrabooks that run Windows 8. However, pressure from Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) MacBook Air and MacBook Pro could hamstring the Microsoft alliance of Ultrabook makers. In September, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that “our notebooks rank #1 in the U.S. market share for the last three months.”

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