Stop Bashing Windows RT!

There’s a lot of articles in the IT press at the moment about how Windows RT is doomed to fail:

  1. Windows RT: DOA to almost everybody
  2. Microsoft Doesn’t Want To Admit Windows RT Is Dead
  3. Windows gains no tablet traction as PC OEMs turn to Android

The list goes on and on.

I was fortunate enough to attend TechEd Europe this year and Microsoft did an amazing discount offer on both flavours of its Surface hardware. Like the vast majority of attendees (that I spoke to) I purchased both. They ran the offer at TechEd North America, TechEd Europe and the Worldwide Partner Conference.

Yes Windows RT is not full Windows – MS never claimed it was. Did the marketing team go a bit nuts with the naming of the product? Yes. There are many examples of Microsoft products being “attacked” by the marketing department:

  1. Windows RT
  2. Windows Azure Services for Windows Server (now called the Windows Azure Pack)
  3. Windows Azure Active Directory (nothing to do with on-premise Active Directory – when it was first released many people, including me, thought I could use it as another AD controller!)

Anyway – back to Windows RT…

It’s not Windows, it looks like Windows, it smells like Windows but it isn’t. It can’t run traditional desktop apps like Photoshop, Auto Cad, etc. but then neither can the iPad or any flavour of Android device (excluding the wacky hybrids but they’re not running Photoshop on Android). It only runs apps from the Microsoft store – just like a non-jailbreaked i device – and don’t even go there when it comes to the crazy world of Android where each vendor has their own App store!

So what’s the problem(s)?

1. They called it Windows RT

Windows is a brand name, the same as Coca Cola, Diet Coke, Coke Light, etc. May be they should have called it Windows Lite or something similar. Immediately people know it’s different. I’m no marketing expert IN ANYWAY but when Apple released the full iPhone, iPad, etc. (not including the original iPod) it was crystal clear that it wasn’t Mac OS X. It may share certain elements from its big brother but it looks different, smells different, is different. Windows RT looks the same. It obviously shares components with its big brother but it’s different. Easy fix – get rid of the desktop element on Windows RT. Make it Modern apps only, I know it is, however the problem there is Office RT, or whatever the official name is. Surely Microsoft could wrap it in a Modern app so you can’t see it running in desktop mode?

2. The hardware cost of Surface RT (at least) is WAY TOO HIGH!

When Amazon released the Kindle, Kindle Fire and other hardware they sold them at cost or less. May be Microsoft are selling Surface RT devices at cost, if so they need to sort their supply chain out! In my opinion they should have even made a loss on the product. Flood the market with devices. Yes is would’ve made OEMs angry but surely the whole point of releasing a product is getting people to use it! The more adoption a platform gets the more incentive their is for developers to put apps in the associated App store. Apple’s products are premium products, always have been and to some extent always will be. They got there first to the mass market with the iOS devices and the App store – now its has the biggest App store out there (quantity does not equal quality). The vast majority of developers put apps on to the iOS platform before they head over to Android and eventually Windows Phone/RT/8. Once the traction is there the cost of the device can rise, OEMs can make more targeted hardware – higher capacity, more cores, better GPUs, whatever.

3. The price of hardware accessories for Surface RT is WAY TOO HIGH!

£99 for a touch over! £109 for a type cover! £69.99 for a mouse! SERIOUSLY! That is insane. The accessories are very well made and do work well but £99 for the “entry level” keyboard is just wrong. Take £50 off each keyboard, still expensive but much more realistic. £69.99 for a mouse – it’s a mouse not a USB port replicator! Take £30-£40 off that and it would be worth it.

My experience of Windows RT

As I stated earlier I have both flavours of Surface. When I leave my house in the morning there are 4 devices I pick up:

  1. My iPhone 4 – waiting for the Nokia 1020 to be released in the UK then it is GONE
  2. My work Nokia Lumia 900 – great workhorse for what I need it for
  3. My iPad mini – I love my iPad mini, it does everything I want it to do for me. Games, Facebook, Twitter, WordPress etc. It is not a big productivity device for me. Yes I can use iTap for RDP access to my environment, yes there are tools available for an IT Pro to manage a few aspects of IT
  4. My Surface RT – I NEVER leave home without it. Whilst in many respects it does the same as my iPad mini it does so much more for me. I’ve updated mine to Windows 8.1 Preview and it makes it so much better. I don’t use local storage on the device any more. Everything goes through SkyDrive. I’ll sync down some videos (which look so much better on the Surface RT than on the iPad mini), work on some blog posts in Word, update my personal excel spread sheets etc. safe in the knowledge that when I find some Wi-Fi it will sync without me having to tell it to or plugging it in to my PC to take files off (thanks Apple) or have to email documents to myself. I’ve installed a bunch of Apps and am very happy with the quality (quality is so much more important than quantity when it comes to app stores)

Admittedly it can’t do everything my Surface Pro can do but the battery life is much better, it’s lighter and doesn’t feel like you fry an egg on the back of it. I use my Surface Pro too, when I need to.

Windows RT is squarely focused at consumers and so it should be. Did Microsoft marketing get the name wrong – yes they did.

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Posted on 14 August, 2013, in Microsoft and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I don’t understand why the title of this post alludes to it being about Windows RT (an operating system) yet two of the three problems that you outline pertain to Surface RT (a hardware device). They are related, of course, but they are different. Either you’re making a case for Windows RT or Surface RT, which is it?

    • With the way the OEMs are going Windows RT and Surface RT are going to be one and the same. It’s a bit mixed however the main point is – it has a place in the world, Microsoft just need to make some tweaks.

  2. I agree. The iPad doesn’t run full Mac OS. Why would it need to? My only beef with Windows RT is that they didn’t make the RT form factor smaller because a) I like 7″ tablets b) it would have exemplified the point of RT vs. its heavyweight cousin.

    • I assume you mean Surface RT? I think the reason they did that was to make it iPad comparable. OEMs could easily make some smaller hardware, MS set minimum hardware specs (res, proc, gpu, etc) not necessarily the physical dimensions of the devices.

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