Analysts question Microsoft's commitment. OEMs are slashing prices. Consumers are just confused. Times are tough for the poorly-marketed Windows RT and Surface RT tablets.
Eye on Microsoft
By Shane O'Neill, CIO
It’s no secret that Windows RT is hurting. But is it dying?
The ARM-based OS has been generally available for seven months, but it has added next to no money to Microsoft’s bottom line. A recent tablet market share report by research firm IDC reveals that Microsoft sold only 200,000 Surface RT devices in Q1 of 2013 (Apple sold 19.5 million iPads) and Windows RT is responsible for only 0.4 percent of tablet operating system market share.
While Microsoft remains steadfast in its commitment to Windows RT and the Surface RT device, industry analysts are doubting that RT will survive and hardware partners like Dell are slashing prices on Windows RT devices as if a fire sale had just erupted. Microsoft itself has started offering free Touch and Type covers with Surface RT devices in many European countries. In the U.S., Type covers still cost a steep $130.
Microsoft will need the ARM-based Windows RT if it wants to develop 7-inch tablets to compete with the Amazon Kindle Fire and Google Nexus 7 in the increasingly important $200-$250 market. So killing off Windows RT is not likely to happen anytime soon, but expect price cuts to continue.
Here’s what we’re reading around the Web on the state of Windows RT.
Industry experts remain suspicious of Windows RT’s chances of long-term survival unless Microsoft makes dramatic changes. In this Computerworld story Carolina Milanesi says, “Unless [Windows tablets] can match the $199 price of Android tablets, it’s going to be really hard for Microsoft and its OEMs.” (Computerworld.com)
Microsoft’s Corporate VP for Windows Julie Larson-Green was at WIRED’s Business Conference last week, and she was put on the spot when asked about the sluggish start for Windows RT. RT’s failure is a consumer education problem, according to Larson-Green, since it’s very different from what’s come before. (TechCrunch)
The checkered flag is out for the race to the bottom and Windows RT manufacturers have entered the final laps. Dell — for all intents and purposes the only Windows RT hardware manufacturer left standing, other than Microsoft — just dropped the official price of its only Windows RT tablet by 33 percent to $300. (InfoWorld)
Toshiba Australia managing director Mark Whittard launched a ground-assault against Microsoft’s marketing strategy, claiming it caused a “lot of confusion with Windows 8” with Intel-based machines and ARM-based machines. That’s likely because not enough people know what Windows RT even is. (ZDNet)