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Acer Plans Windows RT Device in First Half of 2013

Acer Inc., Asia’s second-largest computer maker, still plans devices running on Microsoft Corp.’s Windows RT system even after it was not selected by the software maker to collaborate in the production development.

“We have a development team in-house and in the first or second quarter of next year we may announce a Windows RT product,” Jim Wong, president of the Taipei-based computer maker that shipped 37 million PC units globally last year, said in an interview in London yesterday.

Microsoft last week introduced its Windows 8 operating system, including the RT version that runs on less power-hungry computer chips to appeal to consumers increasingly shunning personal computers in favor of tablets and smartphone devices. The release of Windows 8 operating system this month may not be enough to spur Acer’s initial sales of devices running that new software, Wong said yesterday.

“Windows 8 needs to prove itself first,” he said, saying initially sales of devices running the operating system may be slow. “If it proves user-friendly then we expect sales growth to accelerate over the longer term.”

Historically, Microsoft has has worked hand-in-hand with partners such as Intel Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co. and Acer to bring new PCs to market for a Windows debut. This time, Microsoft had its own engineers working in secret on a tablet meant to look and perform better than devices made by other hardware makers.

Microsoft Rivalry

Acer Chairman and Chief Executive Officer J.T. Wang last week said the the company was awaiting investors’ “vote” on Microsoft’s new operating system and that uncertainty in the strategy of Windows 8 and the retail price of Microsoft’s planned tablet, “Surface,” had negatively impacted the PC industry in 2012.

Wong yesterday didn’t specify what sort of Acer device will potentially run on Windows RT.

The PC market will contract by 1.2 percent to 348.7 million units this year, according to IHS ISuppli as tablets and mobile devices become increasingly popular. That would be the first annual decline since 2001.

Acer has declined 35 percent this year through yesterday, lagging behind a 1.6 percent advance of Taiwan’s benchmark Taiex index.

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