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The end appears near for Windows RT

Published May 10th, 2013 4:00PM EDT
Microsoft Windows RT Analysis

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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.

Among the analysts gloomy on Windows RT’s prospects was IDC’s Bob O’Donnell, who told Keizer that “Windows RT breaks the core value proposition of Windows,” which is that people can use older apps on new machines. Wes Miller of Directions on Microsoft, meanwhile, said that he doesn’t “see a long-term viability for Windows RT as a value-driven strategy” because it lacked the app ecosystem to drive users to the platform. And finally, Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi said that she expected Microsoft to stick with Windows RT “for now” but said that the company’s current strategy was clearly “not enough” to make the platform competitive with iOS and Android.

Microsoft will likely have one big chance to reset perceptions of Windows RT this summer when it rolls out its Windows 8.1 update that will address a lot of complaints that PC users have had about the changes made in Windows 8. But if Windows RT sales continue to lag, it’s hard to see how Microsoft can justify sticking with the platform.

Brad Reed
Brad Reed Staff Writer

Brad Reed has written about technology for over eight years at and Network World. Prior to that, he wrote freelance stories for political publications such as AlterNet and the American Prospect. He has a Master's Degree in Business and Economics Journalism from Boston University.