Microsoft's tablet OS isn't liked, but lives on

OK, we know Microsoft's tablet OS isn't popular. So, what's next?

Samsung Ativ Tab, Windows RT version: Samsung has cancelled sales of Windows RT tablets in key markets.
(Credit: Samsung)

First, a look at the short, chequered past of RT, which rolled out in October, 2012.

  • Vendors wary — very wary: Hewlett-Packard, the number one PC maker, never participated in RT. Neither did Toshiba. Samsung made a weak attempt at one tablet with a limited launch, then pulled out. Asus gave up. Acer eventually threw in the towel, too — at least for now.

  • Want to complain? Get in line: Acer dinged Microsoft for Surface RT, while other vendors didn't like Microsoft doing hardware in general. Nvidia didn't like what it was seeing in March. And even less in August.

  • Sales of Surface RT underwhelming: slow sales portended the write-down debacle to come.

  • RT will finally get Outlook: in June, Microsoft said RT would get Outlook. But when the RT-finally-gets-Outlook hoopla was over, no one really cared.

  • US$900 million write-down: the write-down bombshell was couched innocuously as an "inventory adjustment".

That's not a complete history, but you get the idea. Right now, Microsoft is pretty much the sole survivor among the big players actually using RT. (Though old RT devices are still being sold, like Dell's XPS 10 tablet announced way back in August 2012, and Acer tablets, among others.)

What happens now? The company said late last week that it is committed to ARM. (While that statement made no mention of a commitment to RT, Microsoft has a history of referring to RT as Windows on ARM or WOA.)

We've been told that Microsoft is planning a 7.5-inch tablet. Because of its small size, that's a good candidate for ARM with integrated 4G/3G.

The bigger point is, Microsoft believes in ARM. Every best-selling tablet on the planet today runs on ARM. So, you can't blame Microsoft for thinking that it can't afford not to run a tablet on ARM. That's pretty much what corporate vice president Michael Angiulo said back in March.

IDC has suggested that Microsoft should collapse Windows Phone (which also runs on ARM) and RT into one platform, making it more like Apple's iOS.

Whatever happens, it's probably a good opportunity for readers to chime in. We're guessing Microsoft is all ears.

Via CNET.com



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