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.
Microsoft (MSFT) and its manufacturing partners have aggressively pushed the ARM-based Windows RT platform to consumers, however sales have remained flat. According to a report from Digitimes, the company may no longer offer devices under the Windows RT line and will instead merge the operating system into the next version of Windows, code-named Windows Blue. Although Windows RT devices include the same Metro interface as Windows 8, the operating system does not support legacy Windows applications, and also suffers from compatibility issues and a poor selection of apps. These features, or lack thereof, have resulted in confusion among new computer buyers. The latest rumors suggest that Microsoft will announce Windows Blue at its Build developers conference on June 26th in San Francisco.
No recent Microsoft (MSFT) product has been hit with as much criticism as Windows RT over the past few months. Microsoft’s tablet operating system has been called a “lemon” that serves no purpose other than confusing consumers who don’t understand how it’s different from the full Windows 8 operating system. But in an interview with CNET, Microsoft corporate vice president Michael Angiulo said that Windows RT has a “bright future” and that Microsoft was working to make it better every day. In his defense of the OS, however, Angiulo didn’t really respond to a single one of the core criticisms that have been leveled at Windows RT. More →
The signs of doom are all aligned for Windows RT, which looks like it could soon inhibit the same plane of oblivion currently occupied by Microsoft Bob. Ars Technica’s Peter Bright has written a thorough pre-obituary for the current incarnation of Microsoft’s (MSFT) first attempt at creating a tablet-centric operating system, which he calls “a lemon” that consumers are “avoiding… in droves.” Bright lists several reasons for Windows RT’s failure so far, but most of them boil down to the fact that the operating system as it’s currently built has no reason to exist. More →
It seems that the Surface isn’t the only Windows RT tablet that’s proving to be a tough sell. German website MobileGeeks reports that Samsung (005930) will no longer sell its Windows RT-based ATIV Tab in Germany and other European countries due to a lack of demand. In particular, MobileGeeks says that Samsung has found it hard to sell Windows RT tablets to consumers since they don’t pack the full power of Microsoft’s (MSFT) Windows 8 operating system and aren’t priced low enough to be compelling alternatives to the iPad. Samsung earlier this year cancelled its plans to sell the ATIV Tab in the United States, so it seems the company is finding it hard to move Windows RT devices in markets outside of Europe as well.
Microsoft’s (MSFT) debut tablet isn’t shaping up to be the runaway success story the company was likely hoping for. New estimates from UBS analyst Brent Thrill suggest Microsoft only sold 1 million Surface tablets during the holiday quarter. The news could represent a setback for Microsoft’s Windows RT tablet operating system, as a number of PC vendors are reportedly using the Surface as a gauge to determine whether or not they should embrace the new platform. The only good news, perhaps, is that the analyst’s Surface estimate is slightly better than earlier projections from Detwiler Fenton suggesting Surface sales wouldn’t even reach 1 million units in the fourth quarter. In his note to clients, which was picked up by Business Insider on Monday, Thrill also trimmed his revenue and EPS estimates for Microsoft’s second fiscal quarter to $21.3 billion and $0.76, respectively.
Tablets that run Windows RT are currently limited to apps from the Windows Store. Thanks to a new jailbreak exploit, however, the operating system has been tweaked to let devices run unsigned ARM-based desktop apps. A forum member at XDA-Developers has packaged the exploit into a simple batch file, which is able to bypass certain restrictions put in place by Microsoft (MSFT). There are a few catches, however. The jailbreak can only be changed in memory, requiring the batch file to be run each time the device is powered on. In addition, traditional desktop programs designed for x86-based processors will still be incompatible with Windows RT devices and must be recompiled for the ARM architecture. The exploit does open the operating system up to the homebrew community, though.
In a major blow to Microsoft (MSFT), Samsung (005930) revealed that it has canceled plans to launch Windows RT devices in the United States. The company previously announced the ATIV Tab, a 10.1-inch slate that was powered by an ARM-based processor and Windows RT. Mike Abary, Samsung USA’s senior vice president of its PC and tablet businesses, said in an interview with CNET on Thursday that the company’s retail partners indicated demand for such products was modest at best. The executive also said that it would take too much time and money for Samsung to inform consumers about the benefits of Windows RT. More →
Besides getting used to the Metro user interface, one of the most common complaints about Windows 8 is the operating system’s lack of available applications. Dropbox on Monday released its highly anticipated Windows 8 and Windows RT app, bringing one of the most popular cloud storage services to Microsoft’s (MSFT) new platforms. The application was originally showcased at Microsoft’s developers conference in October, however it seemed to have disappeared since then. Dropbox for Windows 8 includes support for the Share Charm, which allows users to share any photo, file or folder, and lets users open, edit and save files from other Windows 8 apps. Dropbox is available now for free in the Windows Store.
New details on Nokia’s (NOK) rumored 10.1-inch Windows RT tablet have leaked out from The Verge. The tech blog says Nokia’s tablet will go head-on with Microsoft (MSFT) Surface tablet with its own “keyboard cover” that will also double as an external battery. The 10.1-inch slate will reportedly also have an ARM-based processor of course, a display that is “similar to Microsoft’s Surface RT screen,” two USB ports, HDMI and 10-hour battery life “with fast charging that boosts the battery capacity to 50 percent in a short period of time.” Nokia’s tablet will also have built-in support for cellular data with AT&T (T) cited as a U.S. carrier partner. Nokia is rumored to be planning an unveil at the Mobile World Congress trade show in February 2013.
It still isn’t known whether Microsoft’s Surface tablet is a quiet success or a miserable failure, but the fact that the company’s vendor partners are slow to get onboard with Windows RT isn’t a good sign. That apparently won’t stop Nokia (NOK), however, as the vendor seemingly dives deeper into the Microsoft (MSFT) ecosystem without pause. Citing anonymous Taiwan-based supply chain sources, Digitimes reports that Nokia is building a 10-inch Windows RT tablet that will likely be unveiled during the Mobile World Congress trade show in February 2013. No features were covered in the report, however Digitimes says Nokia had initially planned to launch the device in 2012 but the introduction of Microsoft’s Surface slate forced Nokia to delay the device’s launch.
The latest version of Windows brought a wave of confusion to consumers looking to purchase a new computer or tablet. Microsoft’s (MSFT) operating system is available in four different versions — Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro, Windows 8 Enterprise and Widows RT. All but the latter are compatible with traditional Intel (INTC) chips and can run older Windows programs. Windows RT is not like the rest, though — the tablet-specific version of Windows is only available on ARM-based devices such as Microsoft’s Surface RT tablet. The operating system comes preloaded with a basic version of Office 2013, however it cannot run traditional desktop applications. The naming scheme has left consumers scratching their heads, and at least one executive warned Microsoft about it earlier this year. More →