Why Microsoft must kill Windows RT now to save its tablet ambitions

It’s often said that the worst thing a parent can do is bury their own child. Unfortunately for Microsoft, it needs to suffer the same pain by pulling the plug on Windows RT – it will be painful and embarrassing, but it’ll be better off for it.

Born out of confusion

Windows RT, if you don’t already know, is the ‘other’ version of Windows for tablets. It runs on ARM processors and comes with Microsoft Office 2013 installed running in desktop mode, but users can only install and run tablet apps from the Windows Store. In other words, it looks and smells like proper Windows, but it’s not wearing any trousers/pants – delete as appropriate.

Everyone predicted consumer confusion, and low and behold confusion it was. In response Samsung has dropped its RT tablet ¹, Lenovo has all but switched its Yoga tablet-laptop to Windows 8 ², and Asus has made a Windows 8 tablet for the same price as the Surface with Windows RT ³. I can’t remember seeing an RT tablet of note at CES 2013 at all.

A blessing in disguise

Windows RT is a cock-up, then. That much anyone could, and did, predict. But provided Microsoft acts fast and kills RT, it can salvage some respectability. The white knight here is Intel – its next generation of Atom processors appear to lay waste to the bad name the Atom brand garnered in the netbook days. In future, Windows 8 tablets should last over 8 to 10 hours, which is good enough to nix the need for ARM processors.

Killing RT will give consumers, retailers and manufacturers much needed clarity and confidence, while strengthening the Windows tablet proposition considerably. That’s not to say Windows 8 is the perfect solution — it has many problems on tablets, not least its bloated size. But the longer Microsoft’s confusing duopoly continues, the harder it’ll be to undo the damage.

References

  1. Samsung Ativ Tab canned due to Windows RT bewilderment – CNET UK
  2. Lenovo Yoga 11S kicks Windows RT out, brings in full fat Windows 8 - IT Pro Portal
  3. Asus VivoTab Smart ME400 – a cheap(er) Windows 8 tablet-laptop – Which?

2 thoughts on “Why Microsoft must kill Windows RT now to save its tablet ambitions

  1. Personally I own a Surface RT. I can say that I have absolutely no issues with it and I have been very happy with my purchase. I purchased it knowing full well its capabilities and limitations. Which is where I think the issue lies with most people since they are not able to easily distinguish the difference between 8 RT and 8. They just liked the price tag saw Windows 8 and thought it was Windows 8 not Windows 8 RT. I think it was just a mistake on the naming by Microsoft not that it is a bad product. As far as my experience goes with it as a student I find it to be a perfect tool. I do have a laptop and a desktop at home (I plan on selling my laptop soon as I now have really no use for it since I had previously used it for classes), and for any power user who owns an RT device I would hope they know better than to replace a laptop with RT and expect the same capabilities. That being said I can easily switch between programs while in lecture. With the flick of my wrist I can switch between textbook(s), online resources, Office + Notes, and even record the lecture with both sound and video. Something cool that I was not able to previously do with my laptop is that I can write in math and science symbols with my finger and it will then be transcribed as text into my notes or document or whatever. This greatly increases the usefulness of the device over any laptop. I really have no more purpose for it than this. Other than it is nice to have for some media entertainment here and there; such as Hulu or something when in bed or the cafe between class. Sure you can do all of this with the Surface Pro, but the device itself has a slightly different form factor, lesser battery life, and not to mention a heftier price tag (for me as a secondary device this is perfect I do not need a laptop replacement I just need something a little better than an iPad, but lesser than a laptop). While this is all fine and dandy to be honest most people do not need more than the RT to check their emails browse the web, watch their streaming sites, and use Office. All of this can be done with RT, but for half a grand less. I have worked in IT for a few years now and can honestly say that after what I have seen and heard customers say.

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