That didn't take long. HP has publicly confirmed that it has cancelled plans to bring a Windows RT (aka Windows on ARM) tablet to market in time for the Windows 8 debut. The company has decided to focus on its x86 customer base instead. HP spokesperson Marlene Somsak has said that "The decision 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."
Sources we spoke to confirmed that Microsoft's Surface unveil last week was a huge factor in this decision. HP isn't willing to go head to head with Microsoft when it comes to launching new, unproven products. Abandoning x86 is impossible, but dropping Windows ARM is a way for the computer manufacturer to signal its supreme displeasure without unduly risking market share. It also increases the burden on Surface itself -- if other OEMs follow suit, MS could find itself as the only vendor selling ARM-based W8 tablets.