Microsoft’s fledgling Windows RT platform – the company’s attempt to improve its position in the mobile computing market – was the subject of more bad news, with reports that HTC had shelved a planned device using the OS, and Acer describing the platform as “very immature”.
Bloomberg said that HTC has shelved plans to offer a large-screen (“about 12 inches”) tablet powered by Windows RT, because the costs would be too high in the face of uncertain customer demand.
However, the recovering Taiwanese smartphone maker is still reported to be mulling a smaller screen – 7 inch – device powered by Windows RT, using a Qualcomm processor.
IDG News Service reported that Jim Wong, president of Acer, had said that its plan for launching Windows RT-powered devices is “ongoing”, and that “to be honest, there’s no value doing the current version of RT”.
Acer this week announced its Iconia W3 tablet, which has an 8.1-inch screen and runs the full Windows 8 platform – thereby preserving app compatibility with the existing Windows catalogue. Priced at €329 in 32GB form, the device will be competing in a market where Windows RT should be at its strongest.
On a more positive note, Qualcomm said that it will offer support for Windows RT 8.1 in its Snapdragon 800 processors, with new devices powered by the technology “expected to be available later this year”.
Snapdragon 800 processors feature an integrated multimode 3G/4G modem and CPU speeds of up to 2.2GHz per core.
According to Bloomberg, Microsoft has cut the price of Windows RT in order to drive adoption by vendors, although this alone will not address many of the challenges faced by the platform. The move is intended to enable device makers to create products more cheaply, which can then be offered to consumers at lower price points, boosting sales to end users.
So far, the platform has seen only lukewarm support from vendors, with Samsung, one of the early adopters, opting out of offering such devices in many markets.
Windows RT runs on processors which use ARM architectures, rather than the x86 silicon used for other versions of Windows. This should make it better suited to devices with hardware limitations imposed either by price or form factor – such as tablets.
But the platform does not offer compatibility with applications written for Windows, and as yet a thriving apps ecosystem has not grown up to support Windows RT – unsurprisingly, considering the consumer volume is in iOS or Android tablets.
In addition, Windows RT computers such as Microsoft’s own Surface line have carried a premium price tag, making them uncompetitive when compared to the iPad.