Intel: $200 Atom notebooks to run Android

Last week, Intel CEO Paul Otellini revealed that touch-friendly notebooks based on the firm's upcoming Bay Trail Atom refresh would cost as little as $200. That sentiment has now been echoed by Intel Chief Product Officer Dadi Perlmutter, who told CNet that devices at that price point are likely to run Android. What about Windows?

"We have a good technology that enables a very cost-effective price point," Perlmutter said. The price of Windows 8 laptops "depends on how Microsoft prices Windows 8. It may be a slightly higher price point."

While Perlmutter didn't provide any other specifics on the sort of machines that will reach down to $200, the fact that they're notebooks suggests devices larger than the 7" slates currently occupying budget territory. CNet expects the systems to be convertible tablets, which would certainly be nice. Android is Google's tablet OS, after all. Some compromises will surely have to be made to hit $200, though, and screen quality may be the first thing to suffer.

If you want something a little more potent, mobile systems based on Intel's Core processors could dip into the $400-500 range, according to Perlmutter. He also says premium Atom-based devices may hit similar price points, so there's likely to be some overlap. Those more expensive machines will surely run Windows rather than Android.

Just the other day, I was talking with a representative from a major notebook and tablet maker who bemoaned the high cost of OS licensing fees for Windows devices. He confirmed Microsoft cut a deal with system makers earlier this year to slash the cost of the OS and that the discount enabled substantial price cuts on some Win8 and RT devices. Whether Microsoft extends the sweetheart deal to the next generation remains to be seen. Consumers seem unwilling to pay big premiums for Windows on mobile devices, and the selection of less expensive options based on alternative operating systems is sure to grow.

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