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Summary:

Among Microsoft’s hardware partners few are publicly backing Windows RT after low sales and demand. Dell is standing out from the crowd here, likely in an attempt at relevancy in the mobile market. But it’s not a good bet on Dell’s part.

Dell XPS 10 Windows RT tablet

Despite a slow uptake of Microsoft Windows RT, Dell appears committed to the platform. The company has “future generations” of its Dell XPS 10 tablet in the works, according to Neil Hand, vice president at Dell. Speaking to Computerworld, Hand says the new slates will be both lighter and faster, alluding to improved ARM-based chips that can run Windows RT.

That’s a nice vote of confidence from Dell; particularly as other Microsoft hardware partners don’t seem sold on Windows RT. Samsung, for example, decided not to offer its Windows RT slate in the U.S. and recently pulled the device from Germany, citing weak demand. Even Nvidia, which has a chip that powers Windows RT, has expressed disappointment in Windows RT sales. So why is Dell staying the course?

Dell StreakI suspect this another Dell attempt at relevancy in the mobile market. And it’s not the first. Dell had a line of Axim PDAs, offered smartphones and was actually developed a precursor to the big-screened phone with its 5-inch Dell Streak handset running Android.

But each of these products has come and gone, without Dell becoming a big player in mobile. And at this point, where else can Dell turn to maintain relevancy? It could offer another Android device but that’s a crowded market. It’s easier to take a bet on Windows RT becoming a success and standing out from today’s crowd.

Unfortunately, that’s not a smart bet. While I like the Windows RT hardware and experience in general, the same can be had with an Intel Atom tablet with similar weight and battery life. Plus, at roughly the same price point, users gain the full Windows 8 platform with legacy app support. Think of these as Windows 8 in a Windows RT form factor and price. Where’s the value add of Windows RT, given the situation?

Even worse: Intel suggests that future Windows 8 tablets could cost as little as $200, or about 40 percent of what they cost now. If Intel’s new Bay Trail chips help that happen, Windows RT won’t stand a chance unless devices that support it drop in price; as much as if not more than Windows 8 tablets. It’s always fun — and potentially profitable — to place a high-odds bet, but this time, I think Dell is backing the wrong horse.

  1. The value-add is the “less is more” proposition. For enterprises the attraction is end-points that are more secure and locked down.
    With consumers the benefit is battery life. Without legacy support the apps on the device *have* to conform to the strict multitasking rules imposed on app store apps. How many cheap ATOM devices will be sold with crapware that subsidize the device and run in the background.

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    1. Few thoughts Joe.

      First, are you suggesting that Windows RT is more secure than Windows 8?

      Second, I’m going to respectfully disagree on the battery benefit. There are several Atom devices with Windows 8 that cost roughly the same as RT devices and get the same — if not more — run time on a single charge. Some of that is achieved with bigger batteries or secondary batteries in keyboard docks, but battery life isn’t really a differentiator any longer in this device class.

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      1. Wally SirFatty Wednesday, April 17, 2013

        I think he is suggesting that it’s more secure in an AD environment than Android or iOS.

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      2. Kevin,

        At this time I’d say RT is MUCH more secure than x86 Windows 8. Simply because there are not any malicious codes in the wild yet for it. If it remains such a small use OS too, it may remain secure for a very long time. Plus it runs mainly in the new walled garden that MS had created for their new eco-system which protects it even more. Most of the viruses I clean off personal computers are due to “the grandkids installing some P2P software” or such. Can’t do that on RT, and probably won’t want to. That makes the avenues into RT much smaller and much more protected.

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        1. Intel chips have “vpro”. So if you buy “DeepSafe” and “DeepDefender” from McAfee you can have unrivaled security.

          That software will stop even zero day exploits because it works at the hardware level and not the OS like most anti-virus.

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  2. A few things to think about:

    1) Why are Windows RT devices so expensive when compared to other tablet devices with similar specs? Windows RT is more of a companion device because it restricts users to only windows store apps but the starting prices have been more like mid range laptops than tablets.

    2) Is Dell looking to the forthcoming events such as the revisions that will appear in Windows blue like support for 7″ screens, new licensing costs or something to do with the xbox announcement that there have been rumors about to help kick start Windows RT?

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    1. Surface RT is 1 for 1 the same price for what you get with an iPad. The current version iPad with 16 Gig sells for the same $499 that the Surface RT does. With close to identical specs and identical setup. Many 3rd party tablets on RT are far cheaper than 10″ iPads and most Android based tablets of 10″ in size. Like for example the Asus RT tablet can be had from Amazon right now for about $370. The best selling Android 10″ is still $399. So how do come by your statement of them being more expensive?

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  3. To be successful Windows RT tablets must be less expensive than comparible iPad models. The successful Android tablets have been less expensive than iPads. Not having apps such as Outlook and Access available for RT has hindered business RT adoption. I’m told it would be difficult to port Access to ARM processors. If MS is really serious about RT penetration in to the business market MS must place more emphasis on RT.

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  4. I’d love to see an RT Tablet with active digitizer pen input.

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  5. The value of RT is right in front of everyone’s face. It’s called the iPad.
    The iPad has drastically changed the market and has made it necessary for Microsoft to have an operating system for ARM.

    Estimates say that ARM devices (tablets specifically) will outsell x86 in 2-3 years.
    Just as Intel chips will become faster and more efficient, operating systems and applications will become more taxing. Indeed, ARM chips will also become faster and more efficient. Just as Laptops have not replaced desktops, Intel and ARM chips WILL co-exist and ARM WILL eventually overtake Intel in the consumer market.

    The execs at Microsoft would be crazy not to have an operating system in this space. Even though I entirely agree that RT is not ready, it’s entirely necessary for it to exist.

    More info here: http://www.winrtsource.com/2013/02/25/editorial-will-windows-rt-fail/

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  6. Alejandro Huaman Thursday, April 18, 2013

    First of all the argument that Atom Windows 8 Laptops are a better proposition than Windows RT is just plainly wrong. Why? simply open more than 3 tabs in a Atom Windows 8 laptop/tablet and what you will get its frustration. Anyway you go about it the system slows down to a crawl and things start jumping around cause of the low ram. Open 8 tabs in Windows RT and what you get is fluidity. And while the argument that battery life in Atoms is as good as RT can be thrown out the window when you have to reset your computer after a background updates, programs running in the background, resources being limited to a paltry 2gb of ram (horrible to run full windows at least), and your battery life will have to be long to get any real work done.

    Now that is not to say that RT is better than Windows 8 but we are making the argument for a 2nd device to take with you outside the home, then RT is hands down the clear winner. If you want a better comparison then it will have to be between Windows RT and Chrome OS, not an Atom’s Windows 8 Laptop/Tablet.

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  7. I dont understand why their so must negativity on a new product (windows rt). If u compare them to android tablets or ipad of course its not going to be dethroned by this device overnight it just started. Ipads and other android devices have been for years so the progress will be slow. What is this lowering the price gonna help sell the product, it wont. If your used to your gizmo whether ipad or others stick to it but if you are the one who like to experiments on new things buy it used.

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