Windows RT still might be folded into Windows Phone or canned completely at some point in the near future, but Microsoft is reportedly considering another, less severe option. According to a report from Verge, Microsoft is debating whether or not to release free versions of its Windows Phone and Windows RT software. The company currently charges partners a licensing fee per installation, just as it does with its Windows desktop operating system. Meanwhile, Android is free to smartphone and tablet makers. Couple that with Google’s massive app ecosystem and OEMs don’t have much of a reason to bother with Windows Phone or Windows RT. Verge says if Microsoft does offer versions of its smartphone and tablet software that don’t carry licensing fees, the move will be accompanied by an increased effort to push Microsoft’s apps and services.
It’s taken a while but it looks like Microsoft has decided what many OEMs have said for a long time: That Windows RT is pointless, especially in an era of power-efficient Haswell tablet processors. ZDNet reports that Microsoft is planning to slim down the number of Windows versions it offers and Windows RT looks like it’s on the chopping block. Although Microsoft was reportedly trying to salvage Windows RT by making it into a phablet-centric operating system, one of ZDNet’s sources now says that “it’s more likely that the Windows Phone OS core is what Microsoft will use as the starting point, rather than Windows RT” for its ARM-based devices going forward.
Microsoft may not be planning to perpetually support three different operating systems after all. An unnamed source tells ZDNet that Microsoft will likely fold its tablet-centric Windows RT into its Windows Phone smartphone operating system by 2015, a move that would let Microsoft use the same OS for smartphones and tablets, just as Apple and Google respectively use iOS and Android for both form factors. ZDNet speculates that “because it tends to be easier to take a ‘smaller’ OS and add to it than to take a larger one and remove features from it, it’s likely that the Windows Phone OS is the one on top of which the new operating systems group will build.” A move to combine the two operating systems into one makes a lot of sense, especially if Microsoft really does plan on creating a single app store for both Windows and Windows Phone platforms.
A few weeks ago we shared Agawi’s first touchscreen responsiveness test, which found Apple’s iOS smartphones to be more responsive than the Android competitors. Agawi is back with TouchMarks II, comparing touchscreen latencies in flagship tablets from Apple, Android and Microsoft’s Windows RT platform, and once again Apple seems to have topped rival devices by a healthy margin. Agawi used the same method to test the tablets as it did with the smartphones, “by measuring the time between when the user touches the screen and the device updates the display.” More →
Microsoft is about to have a 100% market share on Windows RT tablets. As Business Insider notes, Dell has stopped manufacturing its Windows RT-based XPS 10 device and has not announced any plans to release any further RT tablets in the future. By removing the XPS 10 from the market, Dell has followed Samsung, Lenovo, HTC, Asus and Acer this year as companies that have either cancelled their planned Windows RT tablets or have discontinued their Windows RT tablets without showing any intention of making more in the future. This leaves only one company left making hardware for Windows RT and it happens to be Microsoft, which earlier this week unveiled its RT-based Surface 2 tablet.
Think consumers are confused by the differences between Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 and Windows RT? Just wait until Microsoft unleashes Windows RT: Phablet Edition. ZDNet reports that Microsoft is still trying to find uses for its tablet-only Windows RT platform, which has of late become even less relevant now that Intel has come out with its line of power-saving Haswell chips that should give a major power boost to tablets running on Windows 8. Microsoft’s solution, says ZDNet, is to make Windows RT the go-to platform for Windows phablets by blending elements of the operating system in with Windows Phone. The good news about this is that it will pave the way for Microsoft to have a single common store for Windows Phone and Windows RT apps that will presumably run on both platforms.
It looks like we can add Lenovo to the long list of manufacturers shunning Windows RT. Engadget reports that Lenovo’s Australia marketing chief Nick Reynolds said during his company’s IFA 2013 press conference that Intel’s new power-saving Haswell processors mean that Lenovo can make full Windows 8 tablets that have both high performance and strong battery life. Because of this, Reynolds said that there was really no need for a low-power tablet-centric version of Windows, which means it’s unlikely that we’ll see any new Windows RT-based Lenovo tablets anytime soon. Lenovo isn’t the only OEM to give Windows RT the cold shoulder, of course: Both Asus and HTC have cancelled plans to release Windows RT-based tablets this year while Acer has said that it’s unsure if it will ever release another Windows RT device again.
Nokia’s shift to Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform is still a work in progress, so why not shift some resources to an even more improbable success story? Late next month, Nokia plans to unveil its first modern tablet offering, which seems like a disaster in the making. Why? First off, it will run Windows RT, which consumers have shown no interest in thus far. Second, it will feature a design that is strikingly similar to Microsoft’s Surface RT, the billion-dollar flop. As a cherry on top, it will likely be priced starting at around $500. For those still interested in the upcoming Nokia slate, several specs were seemingly revealed in a new report on Monday. More →
A picture is worth a thousand words and sometimes a chart is worth even more. Microsoft’s announcement late last week that Steve Ballmer would step down from his role as chief executive within the next year rocked the tech world, though it was hardly a real surprise. While Microsoft is still the largest software company on the planet, Ballmer has been widely criticized for the past few years due to Microsoft’s failure to address the exploding smartphone and tablet markets. While Microsoft’s future likely isn’t quite as bleak as some make it out to be, there is no question that its mobile efforts in recent years have failed — after three years, Windows Phone’s global market share is now just 3.7% and in the tablet space, Windows RT has hardly been well received. The following chart from mobile analyst Benedict Evans shows exactly why Microsoft’s minuscule smartphone presence and late, ill-received move into the tablet market is, as Evans puts it, a failure: More →
Nokia’s smartphone designs are among the most unique and gorgeous on the market today. The novel shapes and great use of eye-catching colors combine to really separate Nokia devices from the pack. But scale those designs up to a larger form factor like, say, a 10-inch tablet, and you’re left with a gaudy device that some consumers might not even feel comfortable carrying. It wasn’t bad enough that Nokia is reportedly basing its tablet on the device that recently cost Microsoft nearly $1 billion, so the company apparently plans to offer its upcoming Windows RT slate in several garish colors as well. Among them are cyan and bright red, and purported photos of the latter were published on Friday by a Chinese website. More →
If ever there was a tablet to avoid copying when attempting to break into the crowded tablet market, Microsoft’s Surface RT is probably it. While the Surface RT’s design is among the best BGR has ever seen, people seem to be avoiding Windows RT like the plague and vendors are dumping the platform one after the other. Compounding matters is the fact that Microsoft took a charge related to unsold Surface inventory of nearly $1 billion in fiscal 2013. And so what is struggling smartphone vendor Nokia’s plan to break into the tablet market? Adopt the tablet platform other vendors are fleeing from and model the first Nokia tablet after a device that just cost Microsoft $1 billion. More →
Windows RT is quickly becoming the kid in high school who never showered and whom no one wanted to sit with in the cafeteria. The Wall Street Journal reports that Asus has officially cancelled all of its plans to make Windows RT tablets because no devices based on the operating system have sold well. Asus is just the latest Windows OEM to give Windows RT the cold shoulder as HTC had to cancel plans to release a Windows RT tablet earlier this year and Acer has said that it’s unsure if it will ever release another Windows RT tablet again. Despite apathy from both OEMs and consumers, however, Microsoft has vowed to keep plugging away with Windows RT until it’s successful.
Microsoft has had a hard time getting consumers to buy the Surface and it seems that other Windows-based tablets aren’t doing much better. New research from Canalys shows that traditional PC vendors such as Samsung, HP and Lenovo have been increasingly turning to Android for tablets instead of Windows 8 or Windows RT. Specifically, Canalys says that Windows 8 and RT-based tablets “are struggling to take off as the difference in price between Android and Windows-based tablets remains high” because the “price of Windows itself is a contributing factor and one that Microsoft must address as a matter of urgency.” Canalys also says that tablet shipments grew by 43% on the quarter while desktop shipments fell by 7.5% and notebook shipments fell by 14%, so Microsoft really needs to break through in the tablet market if it wants global Windows adoption to grow and not shrink.