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.
Give Microsoft credit: They don’t give up on their ideas, even when the market is telling them they should. ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley writes that Microsoft is highly unlikely to write off its tablet-centric Windows RT platform as a sunk cost even though both consumers and OEMs are avoiding it like the plague. In particular, Foley notes that Microsoft has taken a page from Apple’s playbook by locking down Windows RT so tightly that there will be “less/no crapware, viruses and piracy” compared to standard Windows devices. More →
It’s not just consumers who are avoiding Windows RT these days. In an interview with AllThingsD, Asus chairman Jonney Shih said that his company has no current plans to release any more tablets based on Microsoft’s Windows RT platform because the results from earlier RT tablets have been “not very promising.” While Shih didn’t rule out making a Windows RT device again at some point he said that for now Asus remains solely focused on creating Windows 8 devices that use Intel chips. 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.
Even though manufacturers keep running away from Windows RT, chipmaker Nvidia is sticking by its commitment to make GPUs for devices based on Microsoft’s tablet operating system. Rene Haas, Nvidia’s vice president of computing products, told ComputerWorld this week that his company still believes Windows RT has a bright future ahead of it despite many analysts’ projections that the platform looks like it’s headed for the same graveyard now occupied by webOS and Symbian. In particular, Haas said that he viewed Microsoft’s decision to slash prices on the Surface RT as a positive sign because it meant that more consumers would get to experience the platform. More →
Qualcomm at the Computex 2013 trade show in Taipei on Tuesday announced that it has added support for Microsoft’s upcoming Windows RT 8.1 operating system to its high-end Snapdragon 800 processor. The quad-core chip features an integrated multimode 3G/4G LTE modem and supports speeds of up to 2.2GHz per core. The company promises a new wave of tablets, hybrids and notebooks that are “thin and fan-less, and deliver speedy performance with long lasting battery life.” Along with its four asynchronously clocked cores, the Snapdragon 800 chipset includes a new Adreno 330 graphics processor that is capable of supporting 4K resolution playback at 30 frames-per-second. Qualcomm’s press release follows below. More →
Acer doesn’t seem to be able to make up its mind about Microsoft and its new platforms. Top executives from the company have called Windows 8 a flop and bashed Microsoft for its Surface tablet, but at the same time Acer’s president Jim Wong has also defended the operating system. Microsoft is doubling down on its Windows RT platform and is looking to its manufacturing partners to help spur consumer interest with new and affordable devices to compete with low-cost Android tablets. Acer may not be one the companies willing to help Microsoft, however. Acer chairman J.T. Wang said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that Windows RT won’t be “so influential anymore,” and the company is unsure if it will release a new RT tablet. More →
Microsoft’s struggles to make inroads in the tablet market with Windows RT are well documented, but the company still seems to think it can make lemonade out of what has been described as a very large lemon. Unnamed sources tell Bloomberg that Microsoft plans to cut licensing fees for Windows RT in an effort to boost interest in the platform and cut into iOS and Android’s dominant share of the tablet market. Bloomberg notes that Acer, HP and HTC have shied away from Windows RT so far while Samsung hasn’t committed to releasing any further Windows RT products after its first RT tablet fell flat. Wes Miller, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft, tells Bloomberg that the company desperately needs more manufacturers producing lower-cost Windows RT devices for the platform to have any kind of future.
Windows RT has for a while been the awkward third wheel of the Windows family and consumers have so far avoided buying devices based on the tablet-centric operating system. Now unnamed sources tell Bloomberg that weak demand has forced HTC to cancel its plans to produce a larger Surface-sized Windows RT tablet, although the company still plans to make a smaller 7-inch Windows RT tablet that it can sell at a lower price. Bloomberg’s sources say that HTC executives got spooked about producing a larger Windows tablet after Microsoft’s own Surface RT tablet posted disappointing sales. Given HTC’s struggles over the past year and given the fact that its Facebook-centric HTC First smartphone already looks like the biggest tech dud of 2013, it’s not surprising that the company is taking a more cautious approach to where it’s investing its resources.
Microsoft has released a second advertisement targeting Apple and its popular iPad this week. The company compares the iPad to an ASUS VivoTab RT, noting that the Windows RT device is slimmer, lighter and can perform more functions than Apple’s tablet. Microsoft highlights Windows RT’s multitasking ability, integration with Office, and convenience with features such as a built-in microSD card reader and compatibility with “nearly all printers.” This is the second advertisement released by Microsoft that targets the iPad, as an earlier video mocked the supposedly inferior voice recognition capabilities of Apple’s Siri voice assistant. Microsoft’s Windows RT commercial follows below. More →
Windows RT has always been something of an oddball in the new Microsoft operating system family. It’s not a pure mobile OS like Windows Phone 8 but at the same time it doesn’t have the full capabilities of Windows 8 and isn’t able to run desktop apps from older Windows platforms. The question has become, then, what exactly is Windows RT good for? The answer that many consumers have given back so far is, “Not a whole lot.” And it’s not just consumers, either: ComputerWorld’s Gregg Keizer spoke with several analysts this week and found that none of them were convinced that Windows RT will be around for much longer unless something fundamentally changes. More →
Despite negative reception and poor sales, Dell remains committed to Microsoft’s Windows RT operating system. The company has confirmed that it plans to release “future generations” of ARM-based tablets that will be lighter and faster than before, IDG News reported. Neil Hand, Dell’s vice president, acknowledged that adoption hasn’t lived up to expectation, although he believes the platform has a good chance to succeed once users become more familiar with the new tile-based interface. More →
Microsoft’s (MSFT) Windows RT platform for tablets has not been well received. The media was very critical in early looks at the new operating system, and reviews of Microsoft’s Surface tablet almost unanimously found that the stunning hardware was being held back by mediocre software. Consumer response to products doesn’t always mirror the sentiment of reviewers but in the case of Windows RT, it looks as though the mass market hasn’t shown much interest in Microsoft’s most recent tablet play. More →
With consumers largely ignoring Windows RT so far, Microsoft (MSFT) may be considering cutting licensing fees to make Windows RT tablets cheaper and help them compete with low-cost Android tablets. Topeka Capital analyst Brian White has released a new research note claiming that Microsoft is planning to release a cheaper version of Windows RT that could result in “a 35-40% price reduction” in Windows RT tablets going forward. News that Microsoft plans to push low-cost Windows tablets comes after the company made some changes to its Windows 8 hardware certification guidelines last week that significantly lowered the minimum resolution requirements for devices, thus potentially paving the way for OEMs to make smaller 7-inch tablets.