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



View All Comments

  • Impulses - Monday, August 12, 2013 - link

    That's a good point, if you think a compete fiasco is MS failing to get any traction in the tablet market within 12 months then yes, it's a COMPETE fiasco (nevermind it took several years for Android and even the iPad was largely viewed as an oversized phone at first). It's not a complete fiasco yo the extent that the above comment is making it out to be tho, Surface by itself won't lead to MS demise... There's a lot more to the world than tablets, a good chunk of the people buying one today probably weren't gonna buy a new PC anytime soon so tablet sales overtaking PC isn't some doomsday scenario for the former. Reply
  • MartinT - Tuesday, August 13, 2013 - link

    Apple didn't sacrifice the Iphone market to come out with the Ipad, Google didn't sacrifice it's advertising business for it's push into tablets.

    Microsoft screwed the OEM partners it relies on to ship Windows. Microsoft screwed the 99+% of its current users that don't use a touchscreen devices. Microsoft even devalued Office by bundling it with the mess that is the Surface RT.

    My point is that Apple and Google made (relatively) small, low-risk bets on a newly popular product category and won big so far. Microsoft came in late, put a lot of chips on the table, and has nothing but bruises to show for it.
  • MonkeyPaw - Friday, August 9, 2013 - link

    IMO, the RT tabs launched at the wrong price. Selling for $500+ was too high. ARM is for affordable hardware, and Surface and others failed to do that. Had these tabs launched for $350, then I think we'd be saying something quite different today.

    For the record. I just bought a Surface RT at the new price. With 8.1 preview, its a nice device
  • chizow - Friday, August 9, 2013 - link

    Even at $350, it's pitted against the high-end ARM tabs and if it came to a decision between Android and WinRT, I think the nod still goes to the Android tab (for now).

    Question though, with Win8.1 preview on the Surface RT, that's still ARM version OS right? It can still only run the legacy RT apps?
  • Impulses - Saturday, August 10, 2013 - link

    Obviously, the internals aren't gonna transform and magically run x86 Win on Tegra... Was that a rhetorical question? :P Reply
  • Impulses - Saturday, August 10, 2013 - link

    I bought a Transformer with keyboard dock for $420 two years ago, I've generally been pretty happy with it and I was exited about the new Windows tablets initially... But I doubt I would've bought an RT tablet at launch even at $350. Not when I know Atom tablets exist and can be way more versatile with little to no sacrifices, obviously at that point Atom devices would be $100-200 more expensive... But I don't see how RT can manage to prosper in that tiny sliver of a market, the price doesn't change much in the end (other than saving a bit of face for MS, but they would probably anger partners like ASUS even more if they went after margins that thin). Reply
  • Impulses - Saturday, August 10, 2013 - link

    I wouldn't buy a $400+ Android-based convertible in today's market either btw (maybe a $350 one, if it came with the dock). Reply
  • steven75 - Monday, August 12, 2013 - link

    Can you scroll through Twitter without jumpy lag all over the place? This has been the low bar set in 2007. Reply
  • jnmfox - Friday, August 9, 2013 - link

    Microsoft scaled the wrong OS: They should have scaled up Windows Phone to work on tablets, not scale down Windows 8.
    This would have also forced them to invest more and iterate faster. Kinda sad to see a former monolith slowly dying.
  • speconomist - Saturday, August 10, 2013 - link

    Now that's an insightful comment.
    Thank you Sir.

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