Microsoft’s head of Devices, Julie Larson-Green has caused a stir in the tablet market, unofficially announcing that the Tech-behemoth would only be running with two – of three – operating systems for mobile devices.
Microsoft currently runs Windows Phone, RT and Windows 8 on tablets and phones. Punters are betting large on RT being the odd OS out.
RT was developed solely to take advantage of ARMs 32-bit architecture, giving devices like Surface super thinness and power efficiency. RT is a cutdown version of Windows 8, sitting smack in the middle of Phone and 8, with more functionality than Phone but less functionality of 8.
Devices currently running Windows RT have a selection of scaled back, bundled programs – MS Office 2013 – however, it’s inherently incompatible with previous versions of Windows. Punters it seems are flexing their purchasing power, choosing full-blown Windows 8 rather than the OEM only RT as their tablet OS ::::
Cat Out of the Bag
Julie Larson-Green told a recent technology conference. “We have the Windows Phone OS. We have Windows RT and we have full Windows 8. We’re not going to have three.”
Clearly Ms Larson-Green didn’t specify which OS is about to get axed or when it was going to happen, it’s kind of a no brainer that Windows RT is the odd OS out. RT was first spotted in 2011, and debuted in Microsoft’s own Surface tablet in late 2012. Cutting RT would free up resources for Microsoft, whose focus is strongly on growing it’s Devices division.
Windows RT was built for tablets, just not for all tablets. It was a solid move by Microsoft, and while many techies are calling it a failure, I tend not to agree. Windows RT was a great transition OS, not for technology, but for consumers. The soon to be gone OS allowed consumers a glimpse at mobile possibilities, it dehomogenized the Apple-ideal of what mobile computing might have been.
The move to scale-back the offer of available OSs makes perfect sense, so does the initial development of RT. The Tablet market a year ago was vastly different to today. A year ago tablets were seen as cut back laptops, or a natural evolution of the netbook. Today tablets are an extension of the mobile, Windows RT helped guide users through to this realisation.
Microsoft has indicated it takes the mobile market seriously, more so than perhaps even Apple. Peel away the hype, and Microsoft has been the big winner in the latest round of Tablet Wars, the company came from nowhere a year ago to owning almost 4 percent of the tablet market last quarter.
Four percent I hear you snigger… 4 percent represents nearly 10 million tablets, a year ago Microsoft barely sold 3.5 million. And the company is ramping up its marketing, it intends to sell more than 16 million tablets over this holiday season, pumping nearly $US100 million into marketing through the festive quarter.
Solid Surface Sales
In the first quarter of this fiscal year Microsoft sold nearly one million of it’s own – not oem – tablets, which tablet? I hear you ask. Surface Pro and RT tablets, yep… so with almost 1 percent of the market under it’s own belt, is it wise to kill-off such a well received device?
IDC Table Sales:
- Android: 56.5%
- Apple iOS: 39.6%
- Windows8: 3.3%
- WindowsRT: 0.4%
The numbers above make RT look like it’s swimming against the current, it’s misely .4 percent market share still represents sales of around 220,000 units, not bad if your a promotional tool.
Microsoft and it’s OEm partners have a solid advantage over Apple, they sell product at competitive prices – checkout the Dell Venue 8 Pro. It’s priced well below the iPad mini at $299, packed with a 1.8GHz quad-core Atom, 2GB of RAM, a 10-hour battery, and Microsoft Office Home and Student, it walks allover the downsized iPad. Or… my favourite tablet, the Asus’ T100, 10 inch IPS, Atom TZ3740 1.8 GHz Quad Core, 2GB RAM, 64GB SSD for under $AU500! …ooh, and you don’t need a powersucking Bluetooth keyboard.
Punters have overwhelmingly opted into Windows tablets with the full-blown Windows 8 OS, capable of running existing applications earlier versions of Windows.
According to Larson-Green, this is partly Microsoft’s fault due to a lack of clear differentiation between the capabilities and target markets of the Windows 8 and Windows RT.
“I think we didn’t explain that super well,” she said. “I think we didn’t differentiate the devices well enough. They looked similar. Using them is similar. It just didn’t do everything that you expected Windows to do,” she said.
In my case, the full-blown Windows 8 OS is the way to go, why have half a system when the full kit runs superbly? Fortunately for Microsoft, I’m not the only consumer on the planet, they’re sure to announce their intentions sometime early in the new year. Whichever way they go, as history has shown us with Microsoft, hardware like this is only going to one way in price, down, happy holidays all!
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image source: microsoft