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Company says ARM-compatible OS holds great promise

While Windows on ARM (WOA) seemed like a slam-dunk due to the power efficiency and lower cost of ARM processors, lack of support for legacy software and poor marketing have sunk sales of the ARM-compatible Windows RT.

A slew of OEMs -- including Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KSC:005930), The Lenovo Group, Ltd. (HKG:0992), Dell Inc. (DELL), and Acer Inc. (TPE:2357) -- have attacked the OS [1][2][3][4] and refused to expand sales of Windows RT products.  In the end, these snubs have compounded the OEM-highlighted gripes, to sink Windows RT device prices and limit sales of Windows RT tablets to a mere 200,000 units in Q1 2013.  Some analysts have suggested Microsoft should kill off its ARM offerings.

Microsoft has adamantly stood behind the product, saying it will continue to produce ARM-compatible operating systems.  Now it's getting some support from its OEM partners.

The latest OEM to step up is NVIDIA Corp. (NVDA), makers of the Tegra series of ARM processors.  While some early Windows RT product has been powered by NVIDIA's rival Qualcomm, Inc.'s (QCOM) Snapdragon processor line, Tegra has scored many design wins as well, including the Lenovo Yoga 11, ASUSTek Computer, Inc. (TPE:2357VivoTab RT, and the Surface RT.

Rene Haas
Rene Haas, NVIDIA Computing VP

Rene Haas, NVIDIA's vice president of computing products says, his company is eager to get in the Windows RT game, telling ComputerWorld that Tegra chips will be found in "multiple" upcoming Windows devices.

On the low sales and OEM criticism, he counters:

Nvidia is very invested and very committed to Windows RT, and we feel it has a bright future.  We feel this [platform] is where things are going.  We're not discouraged by the start and very, very excited going forward. 

It's very early in what is a very significant transition for the PC platform.  If you step back and look at how we use computers today, everything is driven by mobile and access to information everywhere. Windows RT devices are very thin and have a very long battery life, and these are the key tenets of what a PC will look like in the future. Windows RT is an initial effort by Microsoft to move the PC into the tablet arena, which starts with RT powered by the ARM architecture.

There's no reason to believe ARM won't have dominance in tablets as well.  The faster [the] growth [of ARM-compatible Windows Store apps] continues, the better for the overall platform, but we're in the first inning of this ballgame and it's not over by any means.

Mr. Haas says he personally uses the Surface RT as his day-to-day device.  He says he gets around 14 hours per charge, commenting, "When I flip it shut with the keyboard, it's like any other tablet.  There's no fan and no rotating hard drive, so it's light. I get a quick boot, so if I'm sitting in an airport or a coach seat, I can easily shut it off, put it in the seat and when I pull it back out, I don't have to wait 10 seconds to resume work. It's easy to run around with."

Windows RT
NVIDIA's Haas loves the Surface RT, powered by Tegra. [Image Source: Microsoft]
 
If there was one shred of critique in his defense of WOA/Windows RT, it was that he commented that Microsoft needed to continue its efforts to expand app selection to grow Windows RT device sales.  This commentary echoes that of NVIDIA CEO Jen Hsun Huang who in a March interview pled to the "Outlook god" and Microsoft to release a Windows RT compatible version of the Microsoft's popular email client app.

Source: Windows RT



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Could have avoided some of that...
By domboy on 5/10/2013 5:04:02 PM , Rating: 2
Windows on ARM could have been so much better... it could have been a straight recompile of Windows 8/8 Pro instead of the limited RT.

quote:
lack of support for legacy software


This could have been avoid to some degree if they hadn't locked the system down so much. Because of a locked desktop what could have been a simple recompile is a complete redesign. Apparently the api to write a VPN app don't even exist in WinRT yet, but if the RT desktop had been left unlocked Cisco etc probably could have just quickly recompiled since the network stack is the same.

Also, some .NET 4.x apps work with no modification (eg. KeePass2). Some might take some tweaking.

But Microsoft made a choice, and apparently most people aren't buying it. There are a few use cases it makes sense. The only reason I bought one was because the fine folks at XDA developers figured out how to unlock the desktop app signing requirement. But if x86 CPUs reach the power envelope ARM has, Windows RT could very well be rendered irrelevant. Atom is pretty much there already. It really just needs a slick product like the Surface.

Unrelated, that picture of Haas' Surface isn't even a Surface... odd picture choice...




By sprockkets on 5/11/2013 2:36:25 PM , Rating: 2
But if Win8 wins then the desktop sticks around without forcing people to go to the new interface and instead stick with the desktop, with all the legacy problems with it.

Which then means people don't want a metro interface to begin with and Win8 is actually a failure...


By sprockkets on 5/11/2013 2:36:25 PM , Rating: 2
But if Win8 wins then the desktop sticks around without forcing people to go to the new interface and instead stick with the desktop, with all the legacy problems with it.

Which then means people don't want a metro interface to begin with and Win8 is actually a failure...


By MooseQuest on 5/11/2013 2:38:14 PM , Rating: 2
I agree with you whole-heartedly. My first experience with RT was literally dissuaded by not being able to run "legacy" applications. Even that term seems a little risky given that few have adopted Microsoft's product.

As a computer/device manufacturer you have to be careful about what choices you make for the consumer. And for those who are looking for the Windows experience on the Surface have basically been shunned by RT.


By inighthawki on 5/12/2013 7:14:26 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
This could have been avoid to some degree if they hadn't locked the system down so much

They did this on purpose. They specifically did not want legacy applications to run. It enhances the security model by preventing malicious users from recompiling malware on the platform. This also makes people like media companies happy and more willing to share content on these device because they are harder to hack into and steal content.

It then is centric around the app store which caters to the average users who just want the simplicity of search and click installs. Windows RT is obviously not targeted towards power users.


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