Eye on Microsoft

About this Blog: This is Shane O'Neill's blog about Microsoft's corporate strategy and its various software and services — the good, the bad and the ugly.

Eye on Microsoft

Windows RT Teeters on Thin Ice

Consumers don't want Windows RT devices and hardware partners don't want to sell them. Can RT be salvaged or is Microsoft better off killing it softly?

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Windows RT is turning out to be Windows 8's ne'er-do-well cousin. Is this surprising? Consumers are simply not buying Windows RT devices and hardware partners seem allergic to them. Late last week, RT took a hit when Samsung decided to stop selling Windows RT tablets in all non-Asian markets due to lack of demand.

In theory, ARM-based Windows RT, best known as the OS running on Microsoft's first Surface tablets, should be appealing as it offers long battery life, cool hardware designs and relatively affordable prices (though obviously not affordable enough). Yet RT has been marred by consumer confusion (Is it Windows 8??) and the OS took a PR beating when word got out that it only delivers half of the promised 32GB of storage space on a device.

It is also incompatiable with Windows Legacy applications such as Photoshop, Quicken and Microsoft Outlook. The version of Office that comes with Windows RT (Office 2013 RT) does not include Outlook, is watered down in many ways and is not licensed for business use. This has hurt the overall usefulness of Windows RT device in a business setting.

The bottom line is that users are avoiding the Surface RT and other Windows RT devices. According to research firm IDC, Windows RT tablets account for only 1.9 percent of the tablet market today and is forecast to only grow to 2.7 percent market share over the next four years.

Can Windows RT be salvaged? Here are stories from around the Web about Windows RT's fragile position in the market.

How Microsoft Can Save Windows RT
Evidence abounds that Windows RT, Microsoft’s version of Windows 8 for ARM-based devices like tablets, is in trouble. It's time for Microsoft to take a hard look at what it's trying to accomplish and figure out how to salvage the troubled operating system before it has a real failure on its hands. (Wired)

Windows RT takes a hit as Samsung halts European sales of Ativ Tab tablets
Windows RT, Microsoft's first tablet-focused operating system, is not proving to be a hit in Europe. Actually, demand on the old continent is so weak that Samsung will reportedly stop sales of its Windows RT tablet in Germany and other European countries. (PCWorld)

Microsoft Should Stop Making Windows RT Tablets, Admit Defeat
Microsoft (MSFT) could gain nearly 5% of the tablet market this year with its Windows 8 and Windows RT operating systems, research firm IDC said Tuesday. But longer term, it would be better off dumping its poorly received Windows RT line to focus on Windows 8 tablets, IDC says. (Investors.com)

Windows RT Is a Lemon. Here's How Microsoft Could Make Lemonade
As currently conceived, Windows RT is a lemon, and users are avoiding it in droves. But Ars Technica's Peter Bright is not sure it has to be that way. With a few small changes, he writes, Windows RT could make sense, just perhaps not the way Microsoft intended. (Ars Technica)


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