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Just when you thought Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ ) was getting cozy with ARM Holdings (Nasdaq: ARMH ) and its licensees, the iconic PC maker is renewing its vows with chip titan Intel (Nasdaq: INTC ) .
Last year, HP dipped its toes into an ARM-based server offering, using chips from ARM licensee Calxeda. It was a small win for the British chip designer, while HP is naturally a major Intel customer, putting its processors in most of its PCs.
HP has now said that its first batch of tablets running Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) Windows 8 will feature x86 chips from Intel, holding for the time being on ARM-based processors and Windows RT. HP spokeswoman Marlene Somsak told Bloomberg: "The decision to go with x86 was influenced by input from our customers. The robust and established ecosystem of x86 applications provides the best customer experience at this time and in the immediate future."
Windows RT won't support legacy applications beyond mainstays like Office, so application availability could be a hurdle for the ARM-based Windows platform to take off. That and having the largest PC maker in the world pass for now also won't help.
HP said that the decision to stick with x86 was made before Mr. Softy's subversive unveiling of its own Surface tablet earlier this month, putting the two longtime partners in direct competition with one another on hardware. HP and Microsoft have had their fair share of troubles collaborating on tablets in the past. Somsak said HP will be going after the enterprise market first with the device.
On the other hand, Dell (Nasdaq: DELL ) is allegedly still looking at pursuing a Windows RT tablet, but there's no official word quite yet. Dell might be aiming for an October launch for such a device.
One thing's for certain: Dell and HP both desperately need to get their tablet strategies up to speed. And by "up to speed," I mean "into existence."
With hardware makers battling commoditization, the smartest investors aren't likely to be buying these PC makers. Instead, they're out loading up on these stocks. We think one of them would even have Warren Buffett himself saying "Aloha!" Find out what stocks I'm talking about by checking out our special report, yours absolutely free.