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

  • kyuu - Saturday, August 10, 2013 - link

    Definitely not. We didn't need another upsized smartphone OS on tablets. iOS and Android already have that covered. Windows RT on its own was already a far better experience for tablet usage due to things like having an honest-to-god file browser and real multitasking (which it inherited from desktop Windows). With full Windows 8 running on silicon that's higher performing than ARM solutions but still providing competitive battery life, personally I can't find a single reason to choose an iOS or Android tablet. Reply
  • jnmfox - Sunday, August 11, 2013 - link

    Sadly for you and Microsoft only a very few agree. If someone wants those features there is the Surface Pro. Windows RT gives the perception of Windows performance and usability but it is just a poor tablet experience and too limited as a Windows machine.
    If they had used Windows Phone they would have a touch centric OS to build around and apps that were designed for touch.
  • steven75 - Monday, August 12, 2013 - link

    You're firmly in the minority in that opinion, but I would guess you're well aware of this.

    I, on the other hand, can't think of a single reason to call RT a "far better experience" than either iOS or Android.
  • Impulses - Monday, August 12, 2013 - link

    Well, multi tasking is better... But there's less relevant apps and services to multi task between so... :P I'm sure they could implement the side by side stuff on a scaled up WP based OS. Reply
  • CBone - Saturday, August 10, 2013 - link

    I think the low sales were due to the vivotab being expensive garbage. I tried it in 2 stores with 3 different devices and they were all crappy with touch recognition problems and lagging.

    Didn't help that RT was called windows rt instead of just Microsoft RT. Microsoft could have changed the game if they could have let go of windows and all that name entails.
  • Krysto - Saturday, August 10, 2013 - link

    The problem with using the "full Windows" as the base for Windows RT is that even the *highest end* ARM chips that run Android or iOS amazingly well, feel like "low-end chips" when you make them run Windows RT/Windows 8(when we're talking about Atom).

    Windows RT/8 are just not "mobile" operating systems in any way, form or shape. They're bloated operating systems that needed something like a $300 Core i5 to run well.
  • Impulses - Saturday, August 10, 2013 - link

    Did you actually pick up a Vivo or Surface RT and find them to be laggy or slow? That wasn't my experience at all when I tried them, but maybe I'm just a lot more tolerant... After all, I've got a first gen Atom netbook (with an SSD upgrade) that still gets some use... Granted, a lot less use than the two Android tablets I've had. I don't know that performance was really RT's biggest issue, there just isn't any reason to get one over an iPad or a cheaper Nexus... Everyone knew that'd be the case before they even launched tho. Reply
  • maximumGPU - Saturday, August 10, 2013 - link

    Nothing really wrong with RT tablets. What was wrong was the price. not only the price of the tablet itself, but more so the insulting amount they wanted for a keyboard.
    the price should have reflected the middle of the road hardware such as the SoC and the low res screen.
  • Wraiththe - Saturday, August 10, 2013 - link

    I suppose this would have nothing to do Google dropping Samsung and contracting with ASUS to manufacture the new Nexus 10 tablets?

    It is a shame that the aps seem to be less available for MS as Android or Apple.
    Please correct me if I am wrong, but I think the RT's Achilles heel also has to due with:

    Screen Resolution as well as price. (Android, Kindle, Ipad)
    Pricing games for features are annoying.

    ***The Asus did not come with the office RT suite; pushing it even further above the price of the Surface RT.

    All to often the market is determined by the masses, which all to often is based on mass uneducated choices frequently based on marketing... Also unrestrained by a lack of understanding of ULA's and awareness. I am guilty too (takes one to know one.) It just seems to me that we are all being herded as sheep.

    It is unfortunate as Google/Android can market it all so cheap. Not just because of hardware, but because the user pays in non cash ways. The user is basically whored out in terms of personal data and marketing. Most people do not understand or care.

    Having to deal with the different companies (hardware, software, OS.) should problems arise they often do not get resolved (Worse with android.)
  • Impulses - Saturday, August 10, 2013 - link

    That's a good point about Office, even tho Windows RT was a decent strategic move they might've been better off following the Nexus model (commissioning one popular OEM for Surface RT rather than going it alone) or simply leaving RT devices to their partners... I'm not sure a lower price and higher res screen save RT tho. Would that attract more developers? It's a catch 22 deal, but none of those factors would make anyone buy an RT device over similar Android/iOS devices unless they were gonna undercut or out-iterate either (fat chance). Reply

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