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Acer delays Windows RT tablets after Microsoft moves into market

A woman walks into an Acer store located in the Guanghua Market area in Taipei October 23, 2012. REUTERS/Yi-ting Chung
A woman walks into an Acer store located in the Guanghua Market area in Taipei October 23, 2012. REUTERS/Yi-ting Chung

LONDON (Reuters) - Taiwanese computer maker Acer is putting off the launch of tablets using Microsoft's new Windows RT operating system to give itself time to see how Microsoft's own Surface tablet fares.

The world's No. 4 PC vendor by shipments initially planned to roll out Windows RT tablets based on ARM chips early next year. However, the launch of Microsoft's tablet last week and the mixed reviews it has drawn has prompted Acer to wait and see until at least the second quarter of 2013.

"Originally we had a very aggressive plan to come out very early next year but because of Surface, our R&D development doesn't stop, but we are much more cautious," Acer President Jim Wong told Reuters on Tuesday.

"Originally our plan was Q1, but now I don't think it will be earlier than Q2," Wong said on the sidelines of a presentation of Acer's new line of Windows 8 touchscreen notebooks and tablets.

Acer was one of the first companies to criticize Microsoft for moving into the computer hardware business and competing with its partners' devices.

Wong said research and development for the Windows RT tablets was still moving forward but that the company had many questions to address with regards to manufacturing and pricing.

He noted that rivals Lenovo and Asustek had unveiled plans for Windows RT tablets starting at $599 before Microsoft surprised the market with its $499 home-built Surface.

"I don't know what's next, what Microsoft will do," Wong said. "We are watching how Surface is doing ... How is RT accepted by customers, how Microsoft is aggressive on RT and on Surface, we don't know... We want to see."

(Reporting by Natalie Huet; Editing by Hans-Juergen Peters)

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