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Lower license costs alone won't save Windows RT from extinction

Ian Paul | June 4, 2013
Windows 8 is already getting all the love at Computex, so reports say Microsoft will slash hardware manufacturers' licensing costs for Windows RT in order to give the beleaguered ARM OS a boost.

"The best thing Microsoft can do to foster Windows RT adoption is to drive Modern app development for Windows 8," says Ross Rubin, principal analyst for Reticle Research. "Those apps will run on Windows RT and help make it a more competitive option."

That may be exactly what Microsoft is doing. Microsoft's Windows co-chief Tami Reller recently said the company expects to have nearly every major iOS app title in the Windows Store by the fall.

Microsoft is also making functional improvements to the modern UI with Windows 8.1 that will trickle down to smaller Windows RT slates. The modern UI Snap feature that lets you view two apps simultaneously is going to offer a customizable split between the two apps instead of the current 75/25. Snap is also expected to work with resolutions as lows as 1024-by-768, instead of the current 1366-by-768 requirement. The modern UI SkyDrive app will support local storage, an improved Settings app will try to achieve parity with the desktop-bound Control Panel, and a new version of Internet Explorer is on the way.

Sisyphus RT
Promised improvements aside, RT is already being dismissed by computer manufacturers, and even its big brother Windows 8 is struggling to gain adoption. Meanwhile, Windows RT faces competition for attention with device makers from Google's free-ish Android platform. Google does not charge a licensing fee to use Android, but does strike a deal with companies that use Google's in-house Android apps and the Google logo on its devices.

As if fending off iOS and Android weren't enough, Windows RT is also under attack from Windows 8, according to Rubin. Thanks to "more power-efficient Intel Haswell processors that can better match its battery life and therefore create a stronger case for Windows 8 vs. Windows RT."

Will improvements to the modern UI and a promised wider catalog of apps be enough to encourage more Windows RT devices to hit store shelves? Judging by what's going on at Computex so far, the answer is no. Unless a slew of ARM-based Windows tablets shows up in the coming days, Windows RT couldn't even hope to make a comeback until at least 2014.

 

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