Microsoft ready to kill Windows RT as Larson-Green says ‘three is too many’

Remarks by senior executive and failure in market point to end of ARM-based version of Windows in favour of Windows Phone and ‘full-fat’ Windows


Microsoft?s Julie Larson-Green showing off an early glimpse of Windows 8 in March 2012.

Larson-Green, who is executive vice-president of Devices and Studios at Microsoft, said that the aim of Windows RT was “our first go at creating that more closed, turnkey experience [that Apple has on the iPad]…” but that Microsoft now has three mobile operating systems: “We have the Windows Phone OS. We have Windows RT and we have full Windows. We’re not going to have three.”

Her comments, made at a UBS seminar, appear to confirm the growing suspicions that Windows RT has been a failure both with OEMs PC makers and developers, who have all but abandoned it. Only Microsoft and Nokia’s handset division, which is being acquired by Microsoft, make any RT devices. Microsoft had to write down $900m at the end of the June quarter on unsold Surface RT devices.

Microsoft looks ready to kill off Windows RT, its version of Windows devised for chips based on ARM’s architecture, judging by remarks by senior executive Julie Larson-Green.

Richard Windsor, who runs the Radio Free Mobile consultancy, commented: “I have long suspected which is that Windows RT will be killed off sooner rather than later. Always one to treat hot potatoes delicately, Microsoft has not explicitly said that RT will be terminated but has made it very clear that there will not be three operating systems. Windows RT is an orphan child that sits between Windows 8 and Windows Phone and is neither fish nor fowl. Hence the devices that are based on it are underpowered with hideously limited functionality on the desktop making them inferior to both Android and iOS tablets.”

“I suspect that there will be no Surface 3 and no successor to the Nokia 2520 [an 8in tablet running Windows RT]. Furthermore I am confident that RT will be quietly put to sleep during 2014.”

A focus by Microsoft on Windows Phone and “full-fat” Windows – the latter able to run all the legacy applications from the past two decades – would simplify the company’s OS strategy.

Larson-Green explained the original aim of Windows RT: “Windows on ARM, or Windows RT, was our first go at creating that more closed, turnkey experience [like the iPad], where it doesn’t have all the flexibility of Windows, but it has the power of Office and then all the new style applications. So you could give it to your kid and he’s not going to load it up with a bunch of toolbars accidentally out of Internet Explorer and then come to you later and say, why am I getting all these pop-ups. It just isn’t capable of doing that by design.

“So the goal was to deliver two kinds of experiences into the market, the full power of your Windows PC [on the Surface Pro], and the simplicity of a tablet experience that can also be productive. That was the goal. Maybe not enough. I think we didn’t explain that super-well. I think we didn’t differentiate the devices well enough. They looked similar. Using them is similar. It just didn’t do everything that you expected Windows to do. So there’s been a lot of talk about it should have been a rebranding. We should not have called it Windows.”

Posted By Mantosh Pal

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