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  (Source: Focus Features)
"We didn't do the work [just to give up]" says Microsoft VP

A new report suggests that Windows RT, a struggling mobile-geared OS from Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), may not be dead quite yet.

I. Critics Pile on Windows RT

The signs certainly seemed to point in recent months to Microsoft bailing on Windows on ARM (WOA), laying the poorly selling Windows RT to rest.  DigiTimes reported that Microsoft was scrapping the ARM processor OS to refocus on the x86 development path, looking ahead towards this fall's Windows Blue.

International Data Corp. (IDC) tablet research director Tom Mainelli hopped onboard the hate training earlier this month, suggesting that Microsoft should ditch Windows RT, which he predicts to only have a 1.9% share of shipments, or 3.6M devices out of total of 190.4M for 2013.

Windows RT
Sources have claimed Microsoft is close to abandoning Windows RT. [Image Source: Microsoft]

Mr. Mainelli suggests the lack of legacy software support was one key factor to blame for Windows RT's poor performance, remarking, "People may not love Windows 8, but it's compatible with the software they've always run.  RT may look like Windows, but in fact it's not."

II. Manufacturers Bail Too

In January Samsung Electronics Company, Ltd.'s (KSC:005930) North American market PC and tablet SVP, Mike Abary attacked Microsoft's poor consumer education efforts, complaining to CNET:

There wasn't really a very clear positioning of what Windows RT meant in the marketplace, what it stood for relative to Windows 8, that was being done in an effective manner to the consumer. When we did some tests and studies on how we could go to market with a Windows RT device, we determined there was a lot of heavy lifting we still needed to do to educate the customer on what Windows RT was. And that heavy lifting was going to require pretty heavy investment. When we added those two things up, the investments necessary to educate the consumer on the difference between RT and Windows 8, plus the modest feedback that we got regarding how successful could this be at retail from our retail partners, we decided maybe we ought to wait.

He said that his company would not be shipping the Windows RT-powered Ativ Tab tablet to U.S. shores anytime soon, concluding, "We want to see how the market develops for RT.  It's not something we're shelving permanently. It's still a viable option for us in the future, but now might not be the right time."

Instead Samsung is selling an alternate Ativ tablet design, priced at $799 USD and powered by Intel Corp.'s (INTC) Atom processor.

Acer Inc. (TPE:2357) has also dismissed Windows RT, saying that ARM 32-bit processors are too weak to power a serious tablet or PC.  As with Samsung, Acer is instead selling more expensive x86-based Windows 8 alternative products.

And most recently Microsoft Surface Division chief Panos Panay, seemingly talked down about the Surface RT calling it "a tablet first", suggesting it was not a true PC like the Surface Pro.  The $499 USD Surface RT has sold a modest 1.1M units.  By contrast, in its month-plus on the market thus far, the more-expensive x86 Surface Pro has sold at a brisker pace, moving over 400K units, according to the IDC.

Lastly, Microsoft just announced that it would be lowering the Windows 8 tablet standards to allow 1024x768 pixel devices, a move which will likely lead to cheaper Windows 8 x86 tablets, potentially cannibalizing the already scant Windows RT sales.

III. Clinging On

But Windows RT appears to be hanging in there.  An unnamed source close to Microsoft told CNET that the suggestion of killing the OS was silly, as Windows 8 and Windows RT already share the same app store and share almost identical source codes, merely compiler-optimized for the particular target architecture.

And others a Microsoft continue to defend the OS more publicly, as well.  Corporate VP Michael Angiulo is quoted as saying:

[Supporting ARM] was a ton of work for us, and we didn't do the work and endure the disruption for any reason other than the fact that there's a strategy there that just gets stronger over time.

He points to ARM Holdings Plc (LON:ARM) partner chips like the Snapdragon 600/800 from Qualcomm Inc. (QCOM), which pack a 3G/4G wireless modem on their 28 nm die.  For cellular-equipped tablets, this grants them key power savings over Intel Corp.'s (INTC) current-generation 32 nm or 22 nm mobile chips, which lack an on-die modem.

Adreno inside
Microsoft says on-die modems give ARM tablets a key advantage [Image Source; Qualcomm]

So there you have it -- Windows RT is still alive -- for now -- although its sales look pretty dead in the water.

Sources: CNET [1], [2], DigiTimes, Microsoft

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RE: Yes you did.
By inighthawki on 3/31/2013 3:23:11 PM , Rating: 3
I'm going to have to disagree with your definition of "useless," then. Also form factor has nothing to do with the office suite, a completely invalid argument point.

RE: Yes you did.
By BabelHuber on 3/31/2013 3:49:18 PM , Rating: 1
Have you tried to create a larger document on a 10" device? I have.

After trying this out, I kept taking my 15" notebook with me. This is a form factor suited for serious work, unlike 10".

Hence it is useless as full-fledge Office.

RE: Yes you did.
By inighthawki on 3/31/2013 4:00:50 PM , Rating: 2
But this is not a shortcoming with the office suite, or Windows RT. It is a shortcoming of a device in that form factor. You could have a desktop with an Ivy Bridge i7 and a GTX680 hooked up to a 1366x768 10" LCD panel running the best version of the office suite they sell, and it would produce the same results.

RE: Yes you did.
By BabelHuber on 4/1/2013 4:20:31 AM , Rating: 2
Yes, you are right. No 10" device is suited as complete replacement of a notebook - unless all you do is writing an occasional E-mail or letter, then it is OK.

So marketing Windows RT with MS office as THE advantage was a dumb move. Add the other dumb moves, like alienating OEMs and Windows game developers, and the result is a failure which tanks in the market.

RE: Yes you did.
By inighthawki on 4/1/2013 3:44:20 PM , Rating: 2
I think it depends on what you do with it. I can foresee editing large spreadsheets in excel to be difficult, but I've used Word on my RT device and I found it works fine for what I use it for. Until your brought it up I had not thought twice about shortcomings on the form factor, but I obviously was only considering my own requirements of course.

I think there is a lot they could improve in Windows RT and such, but you must admit that for the majority of people who will likely never use more than Word and OneNote, it's not that bad. You'd be surprised how many features the average consumer even knows about in Office. I'd bet that a large chunk of people associate "MS Office" with Word alone.

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