Microsoft offering fundamentally changed Windows 8.1 to big partners

Toshiba Encore Mini tablet
Toshiba Encore Mini tablet

Microsoft changed one important piece of Windows 8.1 to accommodate the needs of one strategic partner and that might be a watershed moment for the whole tech industry.

Toshiba's Encore Mini tablet sports a 1024 x 600 pixel display, one that is lower than the official minimum screen resolution to run Windows 8.1 or Windows 7, currently 1024 x 768 pixels.

Toshiba Encore Mini tablet 1

The Toshiba Encore Mini tablet

According to Peter Han, VP worldwide marketing for Microsoft, the companies' engineers have been working very closely with Toshiba to ensure that apps remain compatible

The Encore Mini, he added, illustrates "the strength and breadth of Microsoft's and Toshiba's partnership".

Engineers analysed each component to determine how to make them work as frugally as possible, going as far as tweaking Windows 8.1. These tweaks however are likely to be rolled out to other partners as well in the short term.

Decent performer

The Encore Mini is able to run with 1GB of RAM and 16GB onboard storage, which is an incredibly tiny footprint. It is clearly aimed at matching entry level Android devices and is what Han refered to as "Windows quality at Android prices".

Interestingly, Sandor Van Der Ham, B2C PC VP at Toshiba, presented the tablet as "really affordable companion devices".

The few moments I spent with the device left me with a good impression; the Encore Mini might have the same configuration as a 10-year old computer but it was as sleek as a tablet twice the price.

The tablet, which will retail for about £103 (€129, about $166, AU$180), is likely to be the first fully-configured Windows device to break the psychological £100 barrier by the end of the year.

Van Der Ham also confirmed that the Tecra line will refreshed in Europe later this month, with a Kira refresh for next year and that the company has no plans to roll out a Next Unit of Computing.

Toshiba also announced two new other products aimed at the lower end of the market (where Van Der Ham reckons, growth will be the steepest), with the Cloud Book CL10-B and the Satellite Radius 11.

Working closer with partners is something that both Intel and AMD are doing as well with custom silicon being rolled out to fit specific requirements of their biggest customers.

Desire Athow
Managing Editor, TechRadar Pro

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website builders and web hosting when DHTML and frames were in vogue and started narrating about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium.