I’m pretty sure you are aware that the PC industry is now putting its eggs into a completely new basket: ultrabooks, a new kind of thin and light laptops that borrow heavily from the MacBook Air, technically the first Ultrabook in the world.

Before we get to the 2012 novelties I think it’s best to start by defining what an ultrabook really is and see how the entire story begun. Intel, the most important chip manufacturer in the world, seeing how its low voltage chips perform wonders in the MacBook Air, which saw staggering sales numbers, overpassing the ones of the MacBook Pro lineup, decided a push needs to be made so it announced a $300 million dollars subsidy for ultrabooks, a new project which aimed to offer PC compatible thin and light laptops by using the same recipe of the Apple MacBook Air.

The project started in 2012, and now we’re looking at a CES 2012 IT show dominated by ultrabooks, not tablets as expected by market analysts. 

What is an ultrabook

To follow the exact specs provided by Intel, an ultrabook is a laptop with a thickness no bigger than 0.83 inches (21 millimeters by metric standards) which offers some kind of rapid boot technology (SSD or hybrid), 2-3 seconds wake time from sleep, embedded security measures like Anti Theft technology, Identity Protection and TPM. Also in 2012 it seems the bar could be raised a little bit with a touchscreen optional feature, but it will all depend on Microsoft and its Windows 8 touchscreen enabled OS.

Also one of the unwritten rules states that an Ultrabook has to be cheaper than 1000 bucks, which is significantly less than a 13 inch MacBook Air (the base 11.6 inch model starts at a strategic $999).

Ultrabooks were invented by IntelCredit: IntelCredit: Intel

What to expect this year

2012 is the second year for ultrabooks on market, and already strong signals show that consumers love them. Predictions say ultrabook sill replace mainstream laptops in two – three years time, but we’ll have to wait and see how the market will evolve.

By then the vast majority of ultrabooks will feature solid state storage (few models today employ an mechanical hard drive), better graphics, Thunderbolt high speed ports and even mode ports than ever before.

If you ask me, no one has anticipated the ultrabooks 12 months ago, so I’m glad to be one of the few anticipating a need for MacBook Air style ultraportables capable of running Windows.