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These are the devices that will kill off Windows RT

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New devices with the latest chips and updated Windows 8.1 software are coming this holiday season and they just might be the final nail in the coffin of Windows RT. The timing is terrible for Microsoft(s msft), which is holding an event later this month to reportedly introduce Surface 2, a follow-up to the Surface RT tablet that cost the company $900 million in an inventory write-off.

Noted Windows watcher Paul Thurrott has details on the lineup of upcoming Windows tablets and laptops. All of them are expected to compete well with Windows RT devices in terms of battery life and performance and some start at under $300. A key difference? All of the Windows 8.1 devices can run any nearly Windows software title. Windows RT devices such as Surface RT and Surface 2 are limited to apps rewritten for the touch-friendly Metro user interface.

Here are some of the product details Thurrott shared on Thursday:

Dell Venue

Dell’s(s dell) Venue, an 8-inch Windows 8.1 tablet powered by next-gen Intel Atom(s intc) with 1280 x 800 touchscreen and stylus. A 10 hour battery life and expected cost of $299.

Transformer T100 Book

The Asus Tranformer Book T100 — which we noted earlier this morning — a 10.1-inch Windows 8.1 tablet with docking keyboard, Intel Atom chip, 1366 x 768 display, USB 3.0 port and 11 hour battery life. The 32 GB model will cost $349 while a 64 GB version will add $50 to the price.

Dell Midland

An unnamed Dell product with the codename of “midland”. Thurrott says this is a 10.8-inch Windows 8.1 tablet with 1920 x 1080 resolution; rare for an Intel Atom powered-device. The $399 includes a pen and there will be integrated LTE options as well as a desktop dock and travel keyboard offered. Battery life is expected to be 9 hours with the travel keyboard adding another 10 hours of runtime.

Thurrott also notes some upcoming Lenovo and Acer devices in the mix, but you get the idea. How can a Surface 2 or other Windows RT device compete with these?

Simply put, they can’t unless Microsoft were to sell its hardware at below cost to reduce prices to $249 or less. As it is, last year’s Surface RT launched at $499 without a keyboard and I can’t see Microsoft getting the price of Surface 2 down to $349 at launch, let alone get it even lower. And don’t expect Nokia(s nok) to be a huge help here if Thurrott’s information on the company’s Windows RT tablet is correct: He says Nokia will price its tablet at $499.

I had high hopes when Windows for ARM(s armh) was announced but those hopes were initially dashed when PC makers aggressively moved into the low-end Windows 8 market using Intel’s Atom chip. Now that Atom is getting a performance and battery life boost, combined with legacy Windows app support, there’s just no reason for Windows RT to exist. At least not at the current device prices.

19 Responses to “These are the devices that will kill off Windows RT”

  1. I both love and hate this debate in equal measure. I love the debate because I think that windows RT is worth talking about. Had MS thrown its might behind app development this time a year ago so 8.0 launched with a decent media player/sync software for Windows Phone, official FB/Twitter/Instagram apps and a suite of xBox live titles, the story would be very different now. They didn’t, though, and they’re fighting a losing battle unless they can throw a counter-punch. Windows 8.1 RT, on the Surface2 at very least, is great. The only thing I really miss from my Desktop PC is Photoshop. I can quite happily spend days away from home with the Surface2 and there’s nothing I can’t do, and that includes Remote Desktop onto my work computer so I can use Photoshop if I want to. Proper multitasking is a massive plus and being able to flick through 6 or 7 running programs is great. That I get 9-10 hours out of it is great.
    Luscious makes a great point: Desktop windows software is not optimised for touch and so you’re back to mouse and keyboard to use it. The RT tablets are not intended to replace Desktops and I don’t think RT was ever a bad idea. It has its detractors simply because Apps are currency and people think they need them more than they really do. Windows RT has 2 browsers, both supporting Flash and touch and for many “Apps” that iOS and Android have that the Windows Market doesn’t, the full website is more than useable. Until the official Facebook App (which is excellent) I was happier using Internet Explorer on RT than the alternative third-party apps.
    I don’t care about reviews or tech website opinions, I care about how practical/fun/usable a device is. I quite like the iPad but it’s far too limited a device for someone like me. 32gb of storage sounds great (for the iPad) but once you’ve popped 3 or 4 decent full HD videos on that number looks a lot smaller and if you like a big music collection on-the-go, you’re done. Most windows tablets, even RT models, have a USB solution and, more often than not, a Micro SD slot. Since 8.1 memory cards integrate seamlessly with the OS and so my Surface2 has 128gb total storage. Take away the 16gb for the O.S and that’s still over 100gb storage. While these things are not exclusive to Windows RT, they add to the value compared to an iPad and allow me to carry a lot of my stuff with me on the go. For the full Windows experience, i’ll always return to my Desktop PC and that will never change, but for a light, compact and usable tablet that can even double as a laptop replacement, RT tablets have a place and if only MS would back them on the software side, it could corner its own market right than fighting with other devices – nobody says you can’t have an iPad for play and a Surface for work, after all…

  2. Let me play the devil’s advocate here, Kevin, since again you mention being able to run legacy software as an “advantage”:

    Do legacy apps benefit from a touch UI, and of so, do they run well on slate hardware?

    The answer to both those questions is a big no, and I can give concrete examples. It’s impossible to resize spreadsheet cells using your finger to swipe on the display. Yes, I can run audio software, but without proper hardware drivers, I am handicapped. Likewise, there’s little reason to run full screen 3D titles when the software keyboard refuses to work.

    The truth is being able to run x86 software on tablets is a novelty feature, and a novelty simply because the platform is not pretending to be either a notebook or a desktop, it is a slate.

  3. John Taylor

    Why would I want to run desktop Apps on an 8 inch Tablet? Why the need of full Windows 8 with an Intel processor that’s not going to get me the battery life of ARM? That’s why I prefer Windwos RT on smaller devices than Windows 8. Kevin, you don’t get it.

    • John, I used Windows on 7-inch tablets via the 3 UMPCs I bought a half-dozen years ago. So I get your point, but these devices have much higher resolution on them than my old UMPCs where full desktop apps stunk. DPI scaling helps now too.

      I also see you overlooked a key point: the Intel Atom devices get the same (or better) battery life as their ARM counterparts.

    • Maybe you have no need to run desktop apps on your tablet. However, some features aren’t included in Windows R such as:
      Windows Media Player
      Windows Media Center
      The ability to connect to your Windows RT PC from another PC using Remote Desktop

      With Windows RT, you can install apps directly from the Windows Store. You can only install printers, mice, keyboards, and other devices that have the Designed for Windows RT logo

      I can’t see the advantage of Win RT if the device costs the same. You can always use a Win 8 device like a WIn RT device but the converse is not true.

      • I agree. I’ve had my W510 for a few months now, and although I mainly use it as I would an RT tablet (IE, and metro apps), I do appreciate being able to run my desktop software as well (iTunes, VLC, Chrome, Open Office), and installing drivers and software for my wireless MFP. All that flexibility, without having to sacrifice battery life is why RT would not make sense to me as a user.

        I personally can’t wait for the smaller 8 inch Bay Trail based tablets – especially if they are priced as competitively as noted in Kevin’s article.

    • Actually John…he does.

      Why are smart phones now topping out non-smart phones when the latter typically gets better battery life. It is the apps! RT simply doesn’t have them while the full version of Windows does!

  4. I’d have to disagree. RT is Microsofts first big step to making Windows available on all SoCs, both ARM and x86, thus further converging computing. They want to be enable developers to write programs that will run across platforms, from the phone to the desktop, without worrying about compatibility. I see it competing with Chrome OS heavily this holiday season, and yes, at a more affordable Chrome OS price of sub-300 dollars.