In a move that’s likely to surprise…well, just about no one, the Wall Street Journal reports that ASUS will cease making Windows RT tablets. Windows RT is basically stuck in limbo between full Windows 8 (and 8.1) laptops and hybrid devices on the high-end and Android tablets on the low-end, and the market appears to be giving a clear thumbs down to the platform. Many critics have also noted the lack of compelling applications to compete with Android and iOS platforms, which is something we noted in our review of the VivoTab RT last year.

This morning, ASUS Chief Executive Jerry Shen stated, “It's not only our opinion, the industry sentiment is also that Windows RT has not been successful.” Citing weak sales and the need to take a write-down on its Windows RT tablets in the second quarter, ASUS will be focusing its energies on more productive devices. Specifically, Shen goes on to state that ASUS will only make Windows 8 devices using with Intel processors, thanks to the backwards compatibility that provides—and something Windows RT lacks.

It looks like many feel towards Windows RT similar to how they feel towards Windows Phone 8. As Vivek put it in our recent Nokia Lumia 521 review, “Microsoft cannot expect to gain back market share after this many years unless they’re willing to aggressively ramp their development cycle the way Google did with Android a few years ago—something they have thus far shown no indications of doing. They just haven’t iterated quickly enough, and I can’t think of a single time when I picked up a Windows Phone and thought it was feature competitive with Android and iOS. It’s not even because I use Google services; there are just a number of things that are legitimately missing from the platform.”

The situation with ASUS ditching Windows RT (at least for the near future) reminds me of what we saw with the netbook space several years ago. ASUS had some great initial success with the first Eee PC, and then just about every manufacturer came out with a similar netbook…and most of them failed. Couple that with a stagnating platform (Atom still isn’t much faster now than it was when it first appeared, though the next Silvermont version will likely address this), and most of the netbook manufacturers have moved on to greener pastures. Specifically, we’re talking about Android tablets, and while most companies didn’t stop making Android products to try out Windows RT devices, we will likely see fewer next-gen Windows RT devices and more next-gen Android tablets in the next year or two. With Haswell showing potential to compete head-to-head with tablets for battery life, more lucrative Haswell-based tablets running full copies of Windows 8.1 look far more promising than RT.

Of course, long-term the story for Windows RT is far from over. Microsoft needs Windows RT or they are locked out of a huge market. They can't expect to compete with $300-$400 tablets that use ARM processors ($10-$35 per SoC, give or take) and run an OS that's basically free with tablets that need Core i3 or faster chips ($100+) and a full copy of Windows 8.1. Right now they're losing this battle, with fewer quality applications and far fewer hardware options. ASUS might not be carrying the flag for Windows RT, but if no one else will then Microsoft will have to carry the torch on their own. The next Windows Surfact RT will try to do just that, whenever it turns up, and certainly Silvermont will help provide a better x86 alternative to the current Atom processors.

Source: Wall Street Journal

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  • Subyman - Saturday, August 10, 2013 - link

    MS's biggest problem is their lack of a strong message to the consumer. Why Windows RT? You say that to a normal consumer and they think of PCs. "I don't want a PC tablet." They need a better name, a name that distinguishes it from Windows so people don't automatically think of their Dell when they hear it. Android and iOS are interesting names and the consumer knows it isn't a Mac or Linux or they have no idea and want to know more.

    They should have just called the entire ARM line Metro and marketed that. Its a neat name and it throws aside any comparison to a PC, its new and fresh. Consumers are interested. They need to liven things up. Having the Windows name anywhere near it will immediately bring Dell, 90's computing, Vista, or whatever other baggage people associate with the name to people's minds. Something that you do NOT want to do if trying to be new and interesting especially when competing head to head with Apple.
    Reply
  • ET - Sunday, August 11, 2013 - link

    I think that Microsoft really needs to replace Windows RT with Windows for ARM. Basically, allow desktop programs to run on it. That's the strength of Windows. Sure, ARM and x86 aren't compatible, which means a more limited software selection, but if Visual Studio could just retarget to ARM, if .NET programs could be run as is on ARM, that would provide a decent and growing selection of software. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, August 11, 2013 - link

    That was the whole point of Windows RT. It was called "Windows on ARM WOA)" during development and then eventually the name was changed to RT -- likely because that means MS has the option of porting it to more than just ARM devices. Reply
  • Impulses - Monday, August 12, 2013 - link

    Did they ever indicate it'd be opened up to more than just market apps tho? Making development easier is nice, they're still not attracting a significant number of developers tho, or giving people a reason to pick RT over Android/iOS. Reply
  • eanazag - Sunday, August 11, 2013 - link

    I'm for RT and ARM based Windows. I'm against the execution. I think the lack of a desktop environment results in a cut down user experience. It needs to be priced in the same low end Android market. It simply lacks the software today to be a large market device.

    Including Office is a great move, but it was a necessary one. People get high on "Brand" thinking because we are doing it then it will sell. It is too much like an iPad and at the same time not an iPad. The same simple interface with a lack of software. It is ironic to think that the whole reason Windows is so popular is because my program runs in Windows. The reason Linux is not mainstream. And the reason Mac OS X is the second desktop OS behind Windows.

    Real world example:
    I'm trying to get my Surface Pro to do everything my iPad does. VMware view, so I download the version from the MS App Store and the first time it is missing a certificate function. Fail. An update comes out for it and I update. Now the app fails again for a different reason. I give up and install View in desktop mode. RT users are complaining in the reviews. I had an out. RT users are hosed. It isn't MS's fault, but it is reality. This is one of the use cases for RT and it fails for now till VMware cares enough, which may never happen.
    Reply
  • steven75 - Monday, August 12, 2013 - link

    "I'm trying to get my Surface Pro to do everything my iPad does. "

    That there, my Surface-using friends, is when you know your product is a flop.
    Reply
  • xTRICKYxx - Sunday, August 11, 2013 - link

    When RT was first announced, I was so excited. I feel like Microsoft flubbed this. Windows RT needs a userbase quickly. They shouldn't have locked the bootloader, which is a requirement for RT. When RT was first announced, before Surface was, I had high hopes to install RT on my Transformer Prime. The locked bootloader, coupled with the 1366x768 requirement (1280x800 screen), nobody could attempt it. An open OS is what Microsoft got popular in the first place.

    Microsoft didn't become to dominate the desktop market by only giving licences to OEMs and setting strict standards.
    Reply
  • Visual - Monday, August 12, 2013 - link

    I wanted to buy one so I can try developing for RT.
    But I wanted a maxed out one - at least 64GB, 3G, GPS, keyboard dock.
    They never released this combo here. They kept trying to sell cut-out versions missing at least some of these aspects, without adequately lowering the price.
    Reply
  • CosmoJoe - Tuesday, August 13, 2013 - link

    I've said it many times; MS blew the Surface RT and Pro launch by pricing them too high. I have 2 RT devices (won them both at tech shows) and I love them as web browser devices and for watching movies. We bring both devices with us on long trips and the kids can watch recordings of their shows. While I could certainly do this on an Android or Apple device, I have a pretty extensive Windows network infrastructure at home with Active Directory, so it is very easy for me to just copy media files back and forth on these devices as needed within the Windows UI.

    My Surface RT by the way ... to give you an idea of how solidly those things are built, I left it on the roof of my wife's SUV and we drove away; the thing flew off on the highway and was run over a few times before we could stop and retrieve it. The thing is scratched up and touch doesn't work on a portion of the screen but aside from that the device still functions just fine.

    I think Microsoft should have taken a page from HP with their Touchpad firesale and really just aimed to flood the market with these devices at very low prices. The 32GB RT should have been priced at $149 and the 64GB at $199. The Pro should have started at $350. When you are trying to make inroads into an established market, you need to give consumers a huge incentive to choose your product.
    Reply
  • wumpus - Monday, August 19, 2013 - link

    "The gun at Intel's head was already cocked, loaded, and discharged, not by MS, but by iOS and Android."

    In other words, Windows on ARM is an ongoing attempt to get onto ARM when (not if) they barge into the server room and datacenter. They already are bringing Android and Linux (and Apple would have to not care or fumble badly to miss with iOS there: looks like don't care), and Microsoft needs to get windows in that mix.
    Reply

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