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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  • name99 - Saturday, August 10, 2013 - link

    "more about having all your stuff in one place with a semi contiguous experience, or seamlessly go from reading to annotating or from taking notes to leisure"

    You mean EXACTLY the problem iCloud exists to solve...

    The whole point of iCloud is not to be a replacement for DropBox or Netflix or Pandora or Picasa.
    It is to make the use of multiple personal devices very easy by ensuring that the data that is important for sharing is in fact shared across all devices. Like any project which is both very ambitious and doing something completely new, there have been teething problems with iCloud, but it's mostly working now (apart from issues with Core Data object storage which will presumably be fixed in iOS7) and it really does work very well.

    What you're going to see going forward is just more and more small pieces of data and functionality moving to iCloud, so that all Apple devices work ever more seamlessly together. Things like making sure pages are synched across eBook apps on different devices are only the beginning...

    This is what I mean about MS solving yesterday's problems tomorrow. In theory MS has all the pieces in place to create the iCloud "experience" --- all the pieces except the vision. They have things like Skydrive, they've been working on "sync" as a problem forever, and that was, of course, Ray Ozzie's big obsession. But they cannot get their minds around the fact that the future is multiple devices, so they don't have the glue APIs to tie it all together, and the marketing message that this is what apps should be doing.

    Google is certainly closer to Apple in this respect than is MS. Personally I think they're starting from fundamentally the wrong place --- start with servers and the data living there, and work to having it sometimes live on the device. Apple starts from data lives on the device, and pushes changes to the server.
    IMHO Apple's model uses less bandwidth (bandwidth is ALWAYS going to be slower and less available than local storage because of physics), and is more respectful of the user --- the starting idea is "this is YOUR data on your device, and as a convenience we will store it temporarily (if you want) so we can push it to your other devices"; Google's starting point is "you've created the data to live on our servers, and if and when we find it convenient we'll let you cache it on your devices".

    But the differences here between Google and Apple are minor. Both at least get the point of distributed devices --- the PERSONAL network is the computer. MS is so determined to recreate the desktop model in mobile that it's going to make the company irrelevant. Not bankrupt it --- IBM is not bankrupt, Oracle is not bankrupt. But no-one gives a damn what they do --- they are irrelevant. They matter to corporate IT officers, but no-one else, and that's where MS is headed.
  • railhan - Sunday, August 11, 2013 - link

    That's both true and not. Casual users are a considerable chunk of the market but the corp world is still driving the car. And the corp world is where IBM, Microsoft, Oracle and etc., are doing very well. That's no place for both Apple and Google's OS ecosystem.
    If your corporate network is using MS services, Lync and a ton of Office documents then a Windows flavored device even with it's flaws will suit your needs best. MS products are still a preferred way to maintain a private network of thousands of users.
  • steven75 - Monday, August 12, 2013 - link

    I was with there until you said Oracle is irrelevant. They are anything but irrelevant to the business market. Reply
  • name99 - Saturday, August 10, 2013 - link

    It's perceived as a success by people who WANT to perceive it as a success...

    Personally I don't think they're being honest. Their success stories always boil down to anecdotes ("I have one and I like it") or unfounded claims ("It's perfect for students"), never to actual sales numbers.
    The demand for this sort of product is simply not there, never has been, because it's built on a fundamentally flawed model of where computing is headed.
  • Ted T. - Saturday, August 10, 2013 - link

    In fact the Surface Pro sales were much worse than those of the Surface RT. So the Pro, for all its positive press on tech blogs is an unmitigated disaster as a real life product. Reply
  • Impulses - Saturday, August 10, 2013 - link

    They both accomplished some goals for MS tho, sometimes you have to take it I'm the chin to ultimately get what you want... RT might eventually turn out to be a failed product altogether and all it accomplished was putting some market wheels in motion, but Pro proved high end x86 tablets are very viable and they can be somewhat slim and consumer friendly (unlike almost every other recent x86 tablet short of recent Slates etc). They'll probably hang around and thrive even if they're never mainstream... Whether MS remains in the hardware game is another story. Reply
  • name99 - Saturday, August 10, 2013 - link

    "They both accomplished some goals for MS ". God that's BS. What goals for MS were accomplished here?

    The ONLY thing that has been accomplished it to make it absolutely clear that no-one considers MS software worth paying a premium for. Apple can charge what they do for iPhone and iPad and get away with it because people ARE willing to pay more for Apple software. What MS has shown is that this definitively does not hold true in any space where backward compatibility is not important.

    This not only means huge losses immediately (for RT, on Surface Pro, and, let's not forget, on that other failure Win Phone 8), it means huge losses on the future. Regardless of what MS' contract with Ford says today, they're not going to be able to get any future auto maker to pay them much for in-car software. They're not going to get anyone to pay them much for say future smart watch or smart glasses software.

    They're stuck to their ghetto of servers, desktops and laptops, and manufacturers are going to start chipping away at the latter two of these unless MS reduces prices, with experiments like laptops that run Android, but which ship with a good built-in Windows Remote Desktop client...
  • Impulses - Saturday, August 10, 2013 - link

    You think Windows 8 was a failure and you're simultaneously pinning for a laptop that runs Android and VNCs unto a desktop? I don't even...

    Surface Pro is a good concept, it just serves a very small niche... It does prove x86 can keep going into smaller and smaller form factors tho (in a more high profile way than stuff like Medfield etc). The only mistake was in trying to make such a big hooplah about it... None of the usual OEM partners were gonna risk a project like that tho, MS has the money to do so.

    RT had to happen in one way or another or we'd possibly be waiting another two years for Silvermount... It's ridiculous that MS has to resort to a project like Windows RT to pressure Intel in light of ARM's ever expanding reach, but it's reality.
  • name99 - Saturday, August 10, 2013 - link

    In your fantasy world, how has MS pressured Intel into anything?

    - Has the price of Haskell's dropped compared to historical Intel prices? No.
    - The driving force behind Intel caring about low-power for the high end was APPLE, not MS.
    - The lead time to design an Atom-class x86 CPU is around 5 years (for Haskell class it's about 7 years). Which means the Atoms we're going to see soon were in no way, shape or form influenced by MS.

    Saying that Surface Pro serves a small niche is the same thing as saying it's irrelevant. You think MS are going to continue pouring a billion dollars a year into a business that has no hope of growing?

    And I am in no way pining for an Android laptop which offers limited Windows compatibility through Windows Remote Desktop --- I buy Apple kit so I don't give a damn what happens in the Windows or Android markets. But when I analyze the computing world, I analyze it based on what I consider to be reality --- what people seem to want to buy, at what sort of prices they seem willing to pay --- rather than based on the emotion of "My team, regardless of what the facts say".

    I have given you what I consider to be a number of very good arguments for why Surface Pro is a foolish product, a mistake that was obviously a mistake before it was launched, and what the effects of it and RT will be on MS' long term future. You're welcome to believe that I'm wrong. But if you want to convince people who don't already share your theology, you're going to have to do better than "Surface is a great niche product" or "RT was a genius plan to force Intel to do [what exactly?]"
  • Impulses - Monday, August 12, 2013 - link

    The price of Atom based parts did drop significantly, AFAIK they now represent one of Intel's lowest profit margins in years. Not gonna bother arguing anything beyond that, you're being more than a little disrespectful with all the team/theology comments (nevermind the Apple rah rah chant, they're the biggest niche there is)... For the record, I don't own either Surface and the only Windows machines I use are DIY desktops and an old netbook occasionally. Reply

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