Signs are pointing to a demise and disappearance for Microsoft's troubled Windows RT and Surface 2 tablet, which runs RT. Among those signs: the Redmond, Washington-based company has said it will not update the RT devices with a full version of its in-the-works Windows 10 operating system.
A variation of Windows created for mobile devices, Windows RT runs on ARM processors and was intended to enable improved reliability and battery life. However, the RT devices' glaring shortcoming -- incompatibility with most Windows desktop apps -- earned quick criticism from customers and analysts alike.
First released in 2012, Windows RT devices didn't win over original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) either, with both HP and Samsung eventually withdrawing plans to release RT tablets. The lack of support from vendors led Microsoft to take a $900 million write-down on Windows RT device sales in August 2013.
Future is 'Vague'
We reached out to Al Gillen, program vice president for Servers and System Software at the analyst firm IDC, to get his take on Windows RT and the Surface tablets.
"Microsoft is vague on what the future is for RT," Gillen said. He noted that, at last week's preview event for Windows 10, Microsoft said it would not update RT devices with a full version of the new OS, although it did plan to provide some of 10's functionality for the devices.
"They didn't elaborate on what that really means," Gillen said. "It's not clear."
Writing in ComputerWorld on Monday, Gregg Keizer noted that the Surface 2 -- "the lone Windows RT tablet still sold" -- was listed as out of stock at Microsoft's online store. Online ordering was also not an option at Best Buy, he added.
'Not a Ton of Value'
"One of the best announcements from Microsoft's Windows 10 event last week was that they're killing Windows RT," desktop virtualization expert Brian Madden wrote Monday. "There are no words to describe how happy I am about this."
Madden noted that Windows RT's incompatibility with standard Windows desktop apps is "problematic because the whole value of Windows is based on the millions of existing apps that exist, so a Windows device that can't run existing apps doesn't have a ton of value." He added that many buyers -- three of whom he "personally consoled" -- didn't realize this until after the fact.
Gillen, however, said he believes Windows RT's biggest problem was not the architecture itself but Microsoft's execution when it released the devices.
"They might have had a much better chance at being successful," he said, had Microsoft released something as different as RT at a different point in the company's product cycle and the overall market environment. "It really was the timing."