Print 30 comment(s) - last by fredgiblet.. on May 7 at 3:56 PM

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs  (Source: talkvietnam)
Despite failure of Microsoft's ARM offerings, Qualcomm says better sales await

Acer President Jim Wong said in a recent discussion that while his company has "ongoing" plans for a future ARM-based Windows tablet, "There's no value doing the current version of RT."

The frank snub of Windows on ARM (officially, Windows RT) might seem overly harsh, were it not for the cold hard sales numbers.  According to market research firm International Data Corp. (IDC), sales of Windows RT tablets -- including Microsoft's own flagship "Surface RT" product -- tanked to a total of 200,000 in Q1 2013.  That's a mere 0.4 percent of the 49.2 million tablets that shipped in Q1.

But Luis Pineda, senior vice president of product management at Qualcomm, Inc. (QCOM), a top ARM system-on-a-chip (SoC) maker is firing back, saying poor initial sales are not indicative of Windows RT's long term prospects.  He comments:

We're very excited about Microsoft's strategy around Windows RT.  We're very optimistic with the future of Win RT and we see continued success.

Windows RT launched on devices from major manufacturers last October and used Qualcomm Snapdragon processors.  Qualcomm is working with many more OEM's to launch on Win RT in the future and has a long-term investment in it.

We're not discouraged.  Whenever you launch a brand new ecosystem like Windows RT it would be nice to have a home run from day one. But there's lots of excitement about what's coming.

Windows RT
Qualcomm is standing behind embattled Windows RT. [Image Source: Microsoft]

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) is reportedly unhappy with the struggles of its new operating system.  Those struggles can largely be traced back to two factors -- lack of legacy compatibility with old x86 apps on ARM devices and poor marketing of this new type of Windows devices.

Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KSC:005930) executives have focused on the latter point -- poor marketing -- as derailing a promising product.  In January Samsung Electronics Company, Ltd.'s (KSC:005930) North American market PC and tablet SVP, Mike Abary attacked Microsoft's poor consumer education effortscomplaining 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."

Other executives have recently been laying it on the embattled OS.  Neil Hand, head of Dell Inc.'s (DELL) tablet and high-end PC business, recently commented, "Demand is not where I would like it to be at this point in time.  The amount of market information about it is not good enough, and the market sentiment is still pretty negative."

The world's fastest growing OEM, Lenovo Group, Ltd. (HKG:0992) has attacked its business appeal.  Lenovo Think PC and visual category manager Simon Kent blasted RT, commenting, "We don't believe that Windows RT is what businesses want.  This is particularly true for a premium product such as Helix, which gives you the performance and capability of a full Ultrabook as well as a business tablet.  Even Microsoft has started to review the RT path they have gone down."

Dell and others have also attacked the quality of Windows ARM apps.  There are currently around 65,000 ARM-compatible apps in The Windows Store.

Qualcomm Windows on Arm
Qualcomm suggests Windows RT is the ultimate consumer experience.
[Image Source: Jason Mick/DailyTech]

Qualcomm VP Pineda insists that Windows RT is a superior experience.  He points to the Dell XPS10, which uses are 1.2 GHz Snapdragon 8060A processor.  He remarks, "This is the ideal machine for me.  It gives me 20 hours of battery and runs more than a day, and is thinner and has no fan and provides 4G LTE access. It has all the software I need."

Microsoft has refused to quit the struggling operating system, believing it to be a key to future success.  The next release is expected to come later this year with Windows 8.1 (codenamed: "Blue").

Source: Qualcomm via CNET

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By Flunk on 5/6/2013 2:34:39 PM , Rating: 3
Even if Microsoft doesn't sell a single Windows RT device license they need to keep it around to keep the pressure on Intel. Microsoft can't be tied to a single CPU architecture at the moment as it is faced with many, more agile competitors. As a good example Android can run on ARM and x86 without any work and can be fairly easily ported to other platforms.

Without a second option Microsoft is entirely tied to Intel regardless of what happens in the industry.

So while buying a Windows RT tablet right now makes little sense, it makes plenty of sense for Microsoft to continue developing Windows RT as a backup plan.

RE: Necessary
By dagamer34 on 5/6/2013 2:53:16 PM , Rating: 2
Besides, the hard work of porting Windows to ARM has already been done, and developers don't need to think about the underlying CPU architecture when writing Metro apps anyway. Anyone wishing for Windows RT to go away is basically asking for Intel to raise prices of its Atom chips. No competition = higher prices.

I think Windows RT will do well in the 7" space where there is little to no expectation of running x86 apps because the screen is too small. They just need to do away with the desktop, rollout Office for Metro, and sell a decent tablet for $299 and sales will pick up. Focus on media consumption via apps like Netflix and Hulu, get some good games (use some of that IP that exists on Xbox even), and they will get good results.

RE: Necessary
By karimtemple on 5/6/2013 3:03:20 PM , Rating: 2
I think you're artificially conflating OS with CPU. Atom's competition is ARM, not Android(/iOS). If it can get enough wins over ARM, iOS and Android might BE on Atom. RT could have never been made or even spoken about and Intel still would've made Atom cheaper.

RE: Necessary
By Mitch101 on 5/6/2013 3:19:01 PM , Rating: 4
Atom might not seem like much on the x86 side but compared to ARM Im betting the next Atom delivers quite a punch.

They are outlining the new Atom right now.
Silvermont doubles the single-threaded performance of its Saltwell predecessor at the same power level, and that dual-core variants have lower peak power draw and higher performance than quad-core ARM SoCs.

Atom might have just become an alternative to ARM and Intel also said we can expect to see x86 Surface Pro tablets for cheap soon. June Microsoft announces a smaller tablet.

RE: Necessary
By ResStellarum on 5/7/2013 7:07:59 AM , Rating: 1
Intel and commentators have been saying that for at least two generations, and Atom processors are still slow and power hungry.

Intel is trying to compensate by shrinking their die faster than ARM, the same strategy that beat AMD. But unfortunately for intel, the ARM IS is RISC so x86 designs are always going to be slower and more power hungry, no matter how much intel shrinks the die.

And that's not to mention the fact that companies like Samsung can fab their own chips based on ARM designs much more cost effectively than buying them from intel.

RE: Necessary
By karimtemple on 5/7/2013 8:24:01 AM , Rating: 2
lmfao, This is not a bet you want to take. If there's anything x86 is NOT, it's slow. When Atom was first built out, ARM was not a target. Every Atom since then has been the same architecture. That's why everyone's all excited about Silvermont.

RE: Necessary
By Mint on 5/7/2013 9:16:56 AM , Rating: 3
Clovertrail uses years old, intentionally crippled architecture on 32nm and it still matches (or even beats) ARM in perf/W.

RISC vs x86 is a meaningless argument. It's only responsible for a few percent of total power, and more than made up for by Intel's other architectural IP. The process advantage is just a bonus.

And yes, Atom was intentionally made slow in the past. They didn't want to cannibalize Core 2 or i3 sales, so they made is just fast enough to keep AMD/Via from taking over the low end market.

RE: Necessary
By domboy on 5/6/2013 3:37:39 PM , Rating: 2
No, no, no! At least not if Windows RT is to ARM as Windows 8 is to x86, i.e. the desktop/tablet hybrid OS. But I guess everybody has an opinion about what Microsoft should do. I want to see Windows on ARM become more open, not more limited. Let third parties port desktop apps, don't get rid of it. Sure on a 7" device it probably wouldn't be very usable, but on a 10" device it's just fine. Let the user choose.

Otherwise, what I think they should do is:

- Merge Windows Phone and Windows RT for phones and small tablets (7" etc).
- Release Windows 8 and 8 Pro for ARM for those that want a full-blown OS on their >10" ARM PCs/Tablets.

I bought a Surface RT specifically because it is a hybrid/convertible tablet & laptop PC. It has a touch interface, and a mouse/trackpad/keyboard interface. And I wanted the ARM CPU for it's battery life. But without the "jailbreak" enabling desktop apps to be recompiled and run I probably wouldn't have. Maybe I'm a very small minority, but this is what I think Windows on ARM should have been like.

Of course, if in a year or two x86 really does match ARM's power envelope then maybe it really won't matter what happens to Windows on ARM.

RE: Necessary
By fredgiblet on 5/6/2013 5:29:39 PM , Rating: 3
Maybe I'm a very small minority

You are. Windows RT is the tablet version of Windows, tablets (whether Android or iOS) don't run desktop apps and people don't expect them to. I have a Surface RT and there's exactly one desktop app that I want it to run (The GURPS Character Assistant) other than that if I want to run desktop apps I use my desktop.

Similarly my parents and sister aren't clambering to jailbreak their Kindles and iPad to run their desktop apps either.

Opening Windows RT would be nice for the hobbyist market, but for the vast majority of people it would simply reduce security with no benefit beyond being able to use alternate markets (guess what percentage of tablet owners even know they can use alternate markets on Android).

RE: Necessary
By 91TTZ on 5/6/2013 5:43:46 PM , Rating: 2
Windows RT is the tablet version of Windows, tablets (whether Android or iOS) don't run desktop apps and people don't expect them to.

Then what's the deal with the Surface Pro?

RE: Necessary
By fredgiblet on 5/6/2013 5:46:24 PM , Rating: 2
That's for people who actually DO want both the tablet form-factor and the ability to run desktop apps.

Before you crow in triumph, how many has it sold?

RE: Necessary
By domboy on 5/7/2013 8:43:07 AM , Rating: 2
That's for people who actually DO want both the tablet form-factor and the ability to run desktop apps.

Right... the very small minority... maybe. That is of course your opinion, seeing as we lack solid statistical analysis on how many have sold, and how people use them, etc. But you miss my point, if you buy a keyboard cover with the Surface (RT or PRO) it is no longer just a tablet, it is a small laptop too. And it runs Windows. IOS and Android aren't expected to run windows desktop apps because, well, they don't run windows. My question still stands... why put limits on what windows tablets can run? Sure some like you only want modern ui apps, but some of us want more. Apparently that's asking too much when it comes to Windows on ARM, and it's a mute point with x86 tablets...

RE: Necessary
By fredgiblet on 5/7/2013 3:56:57 PM , Rating: 2
The same reason Apple limits what can run on iOS tablets, stability, security and money.

The value of allowing third-party apps is minor, the cost is potentially significant. That being said I DO agree that the store should include non-Metro apps.

RE: Necessary
By StormyKnight on 5/6/2013 10:55:01 PM , Rating: 2
Anyone wishing for Windows RT to go away is basically asking for Intel to raise prices of its Atom chips. No competition = higher prices.

I disagree. Intel isn't the only x86 game around. It wouldn't take much for AMD to enter the fray. They already are an ARM licensee and creating APUs for an x86 tablet doesn't sound like too much of a stretch. Intel wouldn't dare raise prices if AMD enters the ring.

RE: Necessary
By Mint on 5/7/2013 8:43:10 AM , Rating: 2
Intel has a huge brand advantage over AMD from their higher end chips and mobile history. Zacate sold well, but not nearly as well as it should have given the half-baked Atom it was up against. Intel has far better process technology, too, so MS really wanted to push Intel into making an honest effort in their Atom platform. Otherwise, they may have continued protecting their higher margin i3 line by keeping Atom slow.

ARM doesn't have that image issue, as they're in almost every phone/tablet. Since they're not holding anything back, there was a chance that A15 and beyond would have a tangible edge over Atom.

MS wanted to protect themselves from this. The cost was minimal, as the Win8 kernel was already on ARM for WP8.

RE: Necessary
By Samus on 5/7/2013 12:31:41 AM , Rating: 2
All that's missing is a powerful enough ARM chip to emulate x86 at a relatively acceptable speed.

If Windows RT could pull off what MacOSX did for OS9/Classic, by running native 32-bit apps (even at poor performance) it'd be a lifesaver. For example, the only reason I don't have an Windows RT tablet is because I can't run my invoicing program on it (a 4MB EXE and some DLL's)

If it could run Quickbooks 2010,, WinRAR and some other very common and basic Win32 programs, Windows RT would be a huge hit. But without basic emulation you might as well be running another non-Windows OS like Android or iOS which have huge app markets.

RE: Necessary
By Mint on 5/7/2013 1:45:11 PM , Rating: 2
What would be the point? It's not like x86 has any chance of being deprecated.

We don't need powerful ARM chips to run Windows RT with a new emulation feature. We just need x86 tablets that aren't overpriced, and then Window 8 does everything you're asking in this post. We'll get there by the end of the year.

RE: Necessary
By karimtemple on 5/6/2013 2:58:35 PM , Rating: 2
I disagree. Microsoft doesn't need to pressure Intel, they just need to safeguard their platform. They achieved such safeguard the moment they finished the Runtime spec.

They don't need an "ARM software" library because Runtime is multiplatform; all they had to do was push and promote Runtime development.

RT should have remained an in-house R&D proof-of-concept for just-in-case purposes. Going to production with it was a failure to properly leverage the advantages of Win32 (and to foresee the competitive rise of x86 in the mobile space).

RE: Necessary
By Pirks on 5/7/2013 2:32:50 AM , Rating: 2
Even if Microsoft doesn't sell a single Windows RT device license they need to keep it around to keep the pressure on Intel
This is THE DUMBEST BULLSH1T ever. You don't realize that it's NOT Microsoft, it's Apple and its ARM powered highly profitable devices plus a gazillion of dirt cheap Android ARM devices who are the REAL Intel competitors, do you? Jeez, so many stupid people around here, why can't you guys see the obvious? [/facepalm]

Of course if you don't understand these simple facts, you wouldn't understand that RT is a stillborn abomination that no one needs. You imagine some stupid things like MS has to keep check on Intel. Right. Sure. MS with it's puny laughable mobile market share is gonna keep tabs on intel eh? All while 90% of the market taken by Apple and Google ARM devices doesn't matter, eh? Boy, this is total facepalm... are you really that moronic or just pretend?

RE: Necessary
By Mint on 5/7/2013 8:59:50 AM , Rating: 2
Well said.

There's one more advantage, too: It sends a message that MS can make a mobile OS that can do everything iOS/Android can and more with just as good battery life on the same harware, and there's nothing special about the software from Google/Apple.

On top of that, RT's benefits - this message and the pressure on Intel - cost very little in the grand scheme of things. The Win8 kernel on ARM is needed for WP8 anyway, and tablets generally have hardware that's a subset of those smartphones anyway.

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