Asus became the latest vendor to turn its back on Microsoft’s Windows RT platform for tablets, as it was reported that Microsoft is pressing ahead with a second-generation unit in its Surface product line.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Jerry Chen, chief executive of Asus, said that “it’s not only our opinion, the industry sentiment is also that Windows RT has not been successful”. The Taiwan-based vendor has taken an inventory write-down on its Windows RT devices, but the executive did not confirm how much this cost.
In future, Asus’ Windows tablet activities will centre on the Windows 8 platform which runs on Intel processors – and which is compatible with the existing Windows app ecosystem. The company has so far offered one Windows RT-powered tablet, VivoTab RT (pictured), which was announced in October last year.
To date, while a few vendors have dabbled with Windows RT devices, these have generally been short-lived.
In addition to Asus, Samsung also commercially announced a device, called Ativ Tab. However, after a lukewarm response the device saw international launches shelved, with the company citing “modest feedback” from its retial partners on the potential for success.
HTC was reported to have considered a Windows RT tablet, but has not made any official announcement so far. For the recovering device maker, launching an unproven product into a competitive market segment is likely to prove too much of a distraction from its core smartphone business, which is already facing its own problems.
And Asus is indeed right that “industry sentiment” toward Windows RT has been cool. Acer, for example, said that the platform is “very immature”, and that “to be honest, there’s no value doing the current version of RT”.
Contrastingly, silicon vendor Nvidia told CNet that it is “working really hard” with Microsoft on a new version of Surface running Windows RT.
This will be accompanied by the launch of Microsoft’s Outlook for Windows RT – an app which was a notable omission from the first generation of the “prosumer” device. “It is the killer app for Windows,” Jen-Hsun Huang, CEO of Nvidia, said.
So far, Surface has been something of a damp squib for Microsoft. The company made $853 million in sales in the year to 30 June 2013 (for Surface in both Windows RT and Windows 8 forms), but has taken a $900 million charge related to this business.