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Microsoft's Surface RT Was Doomed From Day One

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the but-those-dancing-folks-in-the-commercials-seemed-to-enjoy-it dept.

Windows 442

Nerval's Lobster writes "Last fall, Microsoft launched its Surface RT tablet with high hopes. The sleek touch-screen ran Windows RT, a version of Windows 8 designed for hardware powered by the ARM architecture, which dominates the mobile-device market; it also included a flexible keyboard that doubled as a screen cover. Microsoft executives told any journalist who would listen that Surface RT would position their company as a major player in the tablet arena, ready to battle toe-to-toe with Apple and various Android device manufacturers. Fast-forward to this week, and Microsoft announcing its financial results for the quarter ended June 30. Amidst metrics such as operating income and diluted earnings per share, one number stood out: a $900 million charge (the equivalent of $0.07 per share) related to what Microsoft called 'Surface RT inventory adjustments.' Microsoft had already slashed Surface RT prices by $150, so that nearly-billion-dollar charge wasn't a total surprise — but it did underscore that Surface RT is a bomb. From the outset, Surface RT had an issue with the potential to mightily trip up Microsoft: While Windows RT looks exactly like Windows 8, it can't run legacy Windows programs built for x86 processors, limiting users to what they can download from the built-in Windows Store app hub. While the Windows Store launched with 10,000 apps, that seemed paltry in comparison to the well-developed Android and iOS ecosystems. There's likely nothing that Microsoft could have done about this—every platform has to start somewhere, after all—but the relative lack of apps put Surface RT between the proverbial rock and the hard place: it couldn't rely on Windows' extensive legacy, and it didn't have enough content to make it a true contender from the outset against the iPad and Android tablets. Then there was the matter of price. Microsoft could have taken the Amazon route and sold Surface RT at a relative pittance in order to drive adoption—something that made the Kindle Fire a sizable hit. However, that sort of pricing scheme isn't in Microsoft's corporate DNA: it only cut Surface RT's price several months after release, as a defensive maneuver, when it's likely to do much less good."

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Slashdot... (-1, Flamebait)

mystikkman (1487801) | about a year ago | (#44328283)

Slashdot: Dupes for MS haters.

Re:Slashdot... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44328441)

Not a dup. The first was a blurb from IT Times, this one appears to be a slashdot origininal, judging from the link.

As to MS haters: How can you tell if someone hates Microsoft? Ask them if they've ever used MS software. If they say yes, they hate MS.

Re:Slashdot... (5, Insightful)

amiga3D (567632) | about a year ago | (#44328549)

It's not that people hate Microsoft. It's that Microsoft acts as if it hates it's customers.

Re:Slashdot... (4, Insightful)

ShopMgr (1639595) | about a year ago | (#44328661)

No, I hate microsoft! Gates and company bullied and lied and pushed people out of business for their own self-interest. Now he wants to give away the billions he stole to charity. How about giving it back to the people you forced out of business! Modern day Robber Barons with no morals! So, yes we do hate Gates and his legacy! Hopefully, this is just another nail in their coffin! [] Robber barons is a derogatory term applied to wealthy and powerful 19th-century American businessmen. By the late 1800s, the term was typically applied to businessmen who used what were considered to be exploitative practices to amass their wealth. These practices included exerting control over national resources, accruing high levels of government influence, paying extremely low wages, squashing competition by acquiring competitors in order to create monopolies and eventually raise prices, and schemes to sell stock at inflated prices to unsuspecting investors in a manner which would eventually destroy the company for which the stock was issued and impoverish investors. The term combines the sense of criminal ("robber") and illegitimate aristocracy (a baron is an illegitimate role in a republic).[1]

Re:Slashdot... (2)

grub (11606) | about a year ago | (#44328865)

Don't tell me... you were one of the original developers of QDOS [] ?

But... but (0)

Anon, Not Coward D (2797805) | about a year ago | (#44328285)

windows 8/RT is so consumer centric! These guys dont know anything abput tech things

Re:But... but (5, Insightful)

narcc (412956) | about a year ago | (#44328683)

Locking "Metro" apps to their store was their biggest mistake. You'd think that after Ballmer's "Developers, developers, developers" chant, that they would have known that ahead of time! Imposing artificial barriers like this would have killed them in the early 90's.

Apple gets away with calling that sort of nonsense "good for consumers", sure, but they're a special case.

Re:But... but (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44328749)

That was a big part of it. Not letting RT join domains killed the enterprise sales. For the price of RT pro that can do that you could just get an ipad.

I'm glad (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44328287) failed. The last thing we need right now is more Windows.

Re:I'm glad (5, Interesting)

MightyMartian (840721) | about a year ago | (#44328565)

It failed because Redmond was four years too late, and Android and iOS are so dominant at all price points that there is simply no room for a third competitor. Surface RT offers nothing that mid and upper end iDevices and Androids do not.

In other words, Microsoft has been out-Microsofted.

Re:I'm glad (5, Insightful)

evilRhino (638506) | about a year ago | (#44328617)

This is an unfair statement. Microsoft has plenty of missteps/failures in the mobile/tablet market preceding Windows 8.

Re:I'm glad (5, Funny)

Linux User 95 (2989793) | about a year ago | (#44328631)

What is this story even talking about? Surface RT was a massive success from the very beginning. I see people carrying Surface RT's daily and online comments have been very great. The only thing Microsoft failed with was that they manufactured just a tad too many of them. But overally Surface RT has been a great product and users are very happy with it. That's what ultimately counts.

Re:I'm glad (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about a year ago | (#44328685)

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!! They're going to end up dumping them on schools or burying them in the desert.

Re:I'm glad (2)

rwise2112 (648849) | about a year ago | (#44328791)

It failed because Redmond was four years too late, and Android and iOS are so dominant at all price points that there is simply no room for a third competitor. Surface RT offers nothing that mid and upper end iDevices and Androids do not.

So true. To make any impact they have to offer a device that is much better (which I don't even think is possible considering the current state of iOS and Android), or much cheaper (and it's really hard/impossible to beat the low end android tablets).

Re:I'm glad (3, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | about a year ago | (#44328567)

Yes we want to stick in a world of Apple and Google to be controlling everything. Having more competition is a bad thing... Right?

Most of this anti-Window nonsense, is decades old.

Re:I'm glad (5, Informative)

jedidiah (1196) | about a year ago | (#44328671)

> Most of this anti-Window nonsense, is decades old.

Microsoft is still up to the same kind of dirt tricks that earned them that kind of hatred in the first place.

It's just that now people are beginning to see that they have alternatives.

Re:I'm glad (5, Insightful)

NewWorldDan (899800) | about a year ago | (#44328641)

Completely disagree. A competitive marketplace is almost always a very good thing. Android has become the new destination for malware. I've been saying from the beginning that if Microsoft wants to play in the tablet/mobile market, they're going to have to effectively give the OS away. Some people might pay a bit more for the Apple experience. Microsoft doesn't have that sort of appeal. For everyone else, they've come to expect cheap hardware. Google and Amazon are making money from tying their tablets to other revenue generators - search, shopping, app stores. Microsoft has become so spoiled with the fat margins they get on Windows and Office, they don't know how to work a market where they don't have a monopoly.

Re:I'm glad (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44328965)

Microsoft doesnt care about making insanely great products, and in the end, all they care about is the bottom line. Their products are not intuitive, they dont listen to what a consumer wants, their stuff is made for geeks by geeks at best.

Dupe - Six Million Unsold Tablets (3, Interesting)

xmas2003 (739875) | about a year ago | (#44328293)

Re:Dupe - Six Million Unsold Tablets (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44328437)

I'm guessing Slashdot is sponsored by Samsung this week.

Re:Dupe - Six Million Unsold Tablets (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44328813)

I doubt Samsung or Apple have any fear from MS. Perhaps it is one of MS's "partners" making the public aware so they can make a case against them screwing up and taking them down too. :D

Yea, I'm not sure how that goes, but Samsung and Apple are *not* behind it.

Doomed From Day One? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44328307)

At least that's they way it looks on the surface.

FIRST (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44328321)


Can we install Android? (2)

RevWaldo (1186281) | about a year ago | (#44328329)

Assuming the price for the hardware continues to dive...


Re:Can we install Android? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44328499)

No, "secure boot" prevents this while not actually improving security.

Re:Can we install Android? (5, Insightful)

amiga3D (567632) | about a year ago | (#44328591)

Secure boot does exactly what it is supposed to do. It gives the manufacturer control over what you do with the device. Anyone that thought it was to benefit the customer lacks any insight into current corporate culture.

Re:Can we install Android? (5, Insightful)

danbob999 (2490674) | about a year ago | (#44328537)

The surface doesn't have particularly interesting hardware. 1.3 GHz Tegra 3 CPU with relatively low res display. It should have been $350 from the start.

Re:Can we install Android? (2, Insightful)

Zalbik (308903) | about a year ago | (#44328647)

Posting to undo moderation.....Sorry...hit "Redundant", meant to hit "Insightful".

Someone mod up please! at $350, I very well may have bought a Surface when it was released.

But now it's a considerably older processor, still has few apps, and the "ooh, new shiny" factor has worn off, so it's unlikely to have a huge following.

Re:Can we install Android? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44328835)

$350, it should have been $149. Its was possible to buy a netbook for $200 why not an arm based tablet?

Instead of paying a bunch of developers a pittance to write apps, they should have just subsidized the first 20 million units, its not like they weren't going to make a bunch of it back selling software/books/movies. Then the developers would have magically appeared.

Of course the idea that they are the underdog and need to buy market share never dawns on big tech companies until they are well and dead. Its just they are greedy and they see apple making a killing.

Re:Can we install Android? (1)

amiga3D (567632) | about a year ago | (#44328571)

This! I'd love one of these with Android on it.

Re:Can we install Android? (4, Funny)

scottbomb (1290580) | about a year ago | (#44328771)

I think this is what MS should have done in the first place. Make the damned thing capable of running Android applications. How hard can that be?

Steve Sinofsky (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44328339)

I think Ballmer will be out by the end of Q1 next year and Sinofsky will be on the short list of replacements. Bill Gates doesn't want to be CEO of Microsoft again, and he's old and out of touch anyway.

Microsoft should NOT be a devices and services company, it should be a consumer-facing OS and services company. Apple and Samsung are much better at consumer devices than MS will ever be.

Re:Steve Sinofsky (5, Interesting)

JDG1980 (2438906) | about a year ago | (#44328607)

I'd prefer Raymond Chen [] as CEO, but I realize that's probably not a realistic option. What Microsoft needs to maintain its position is an obsession with backwards compatibility and not breaking anyone's workflow, and an understanding that they will never be hip or cool. They need to transition from a growth company to a dividend-oriented company.

Re:Steve Sinofsky (1)

west (39918) | about a year ago | (#44328723)

I doubt there's enough money on the planet to persuade Raymond Chen to become CEO.

Re:Steve Sinofsky (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about a year ago | (#44328619)

Although the quality of Microsoft Products have risen after gates left. When Gates left XP was just released and getting hammered by security issues. Compared to say Windows 7 and even Windows 8 which runs very stable and is a lot more secure than ever.

Re:Steve Sinofsky (4, Insightful)

EvanED (569694) | about a year ago | (#44328809)

Although the quality of Microsoft Products have risen after gates left. When Gates left XP was just released and getting hammered by security issues. Compared to say Windows 7 and even Windows 8 which runs very stable and is a lot more secure than ever.
A big part of that was the "trustworthy computing" initiative that Gates started though. Actually even Vista was very close to being released (Nov 8, 2006 [] ) when Gates announced he was reducing his day-to-day role at MS (June 15, 2006 [] ).

Re:Steve Sinofsky (2)

MightyMartian (840721) | about a year ago | (#44328701)

I think you've nailed it on the head. But there are deep systemic issues here. The failure of Surface RT (and, I would imagine, ultimately Surface as well, along with the deep unpopularity of Windows 8) is that Microsoft is a company who has seen its consumer market shrink catastrophically. In part I think it is just bad luck. For whatever reason Apple had Steve Job's Reality Distortion Field that made iDevices sexy must-haves that could be sold at a premium simply because there was an "i" at the beginning of the device name. Whether it was Zune, smartphones or tablets, Microsoft just couldn't pierce that field.

At the same time, Google did its best over the same timespan to get Android put on everything from throw away cell phones to high end tablets, and has absolutely astonishing market penetration.

Between Apple and Google, iOS and Android have become ubiquitous on smart devices, and everyone else is a very distant third. Blackberry can't get back in and Microsoft can't get any footing.

Sure, Microsoft could, and probably will end up selling them far below cost or just giving them away. Maybe that will trigger something, but at this point I doubt it. No one wants Surface RT, and I don't think it has a damned thing to do with quality of product.

Re:Steve Sinofsky (2)

binarylarry (1338699) | about a year ago | (#44328773)

Can you imagine the media frenzy of Bill Gates returning to helm Microsoft?

If it happens, I hope the theme is the imperial march.

That said, it'd probably do wonders for Microsoft. Bill Gates is kind of a bastard but he gets shit done

Duh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44328351)

I think everyone knew that, except Microsoft.

Linux on ARM (1)

simonbp (412489) | about a year ago | (#44328353)

I've been running a few proper Linux distributions on the ARM Chromebook for about half a year now, and I though I would have this problem. But, thanks to Open Source, pretty much everything in the Ubuntu and Arch Linux repositories is now complied for ARM v7, so it's really not an issue.

On the other hand, the stock ARM Chromebook is popular (best selling laptop under $300) simply because you can't install legacy apps on ChromeOS anyway (without going into dev mode).

Re:Linux on ARM (2)

somersault (912633) | about a year ago | (#44328413)

Methinks the real issue would be having to deal with the Windows 8 interface. On my Androids I hardly use any obscure apps. The only ones I download are Kindle and Spotify. But you'd have to pay me quite a lot every month to have me use Windows 8's godawful mish-mash of Metro/desktop, no matter what apps it had.

Microsoft cross platform problem. (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about a year ago | (#44328379)

Microsoft who initially got its foot in the door because it's OS can run across multiple manufactures and not just one. Now is having huge problems in writing cross platform OS's.

They made .NET to compete with Java. However why doesn't .NET programs work for arm and Intel like java does, or even for 32bit and 64bit systems. Microsoft just hasn't kept up with cross system compatibility.

Re:Microsoft cross platform problem. (5, Informative)

Tridus (79566) | about a year ago | (#44328445)

There isn't a technical reason why they couldn't have made .net applications work on arm, or Surface RT. In fact, you can build Metro applications with .net and they'll run on the RT just fine.

The problem is that they only want Metro stuff on there (except for Office).

Re:Microsoft cross platform problem. (2)

0123456 (636235) | about a year ago | (#44328643)

There isn't a technical reason why they couldn't have made .net applications work on arm, or Surface RT.

Except they'll fail horribly if they call native code that isn't part of the OS. If you need .zip compression, for example, you're probably calling zlib.dll, which isn't part of the OS and won't run on ARM unless you specifically install the ARM version.

Re:Microsoft cross platform problem. (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about a year ago | (#44328717)

Even in the best case, people have to be willing to recompile their apps.

Windows is just not a historically multi-architecture platform like Unix is.

Re:Microsoft cross platform problem. (1)

binarylarry (1338699) | about a year ago | (#44328821)

Zip functionality is in the core System namespace with .NET.

Most apps don't require special native functionality.

Re:Microsoft cross platform problem. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44328881)

There is a technical reason.. and that is because of win32 and all its legacy. Microsoft is being burned by decades old architecture that everything continues to be built on top of.

Re:Microsoft cross platform problem. (2)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#44328605)

The fundamental problem with that statement is that Microsoft got their foot in the door by making an OS that could run across multiple manufacturers who were building to a common standard. There have been compatibilitiy problems irking consumers ever since Vista x86_64 hit the market. Now throwing ARM into the mix alongside x86 and x86_64, where you don't even have that convenient x86 compatibility? Not a good encore.

Re:Microsoft cross platform problem. (1)

Guspaz (556486) | about a year ago | (#44328669)

Unless you're dealing with legacy 16-bit apps, the 32-bit to 64-bit transition on Windows has been largely transparent and painless to users... Can you name some compatibility problems that a typical user (emphasis on typical) might face?

Re:Microsoft cross platform problem. (1)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#44328747)

I can think of countless proprietary solutions that were highly problematic for XP/2K users with the Vista/7 transition, including multiple vendors who hated Vista and refused to support it.

Re:Microsoft cross platform problem. (1)

0123456 (636235) | about a year ago | (#44328779)

Can you name some compatibility problems that a typical user (emphasis on typical) might face?

Lots of old games are 16-bit apps or have 16-bit installers. Lots of old hardware doesn't have 64-bit drivers.

The funny part is that I have a 64-bit OS on my Windows gaming PC, but I only have about half a dozen actual 64-bit apps because most developers stick to 32-bit unless they really need more than 2GB of RAM. Almost all the apps on my 64-bit Linux machines are actually 64-bit, even if they're just the equivalent of Notepad.

Re:Microsoft cross platform problem. (4, Insightful)

EvanED (569694) | about a year ago | (#44328737)

There have been compatibilitiy problems irking consumers ever since Vista x86_64 hit the market.

What? I never ran Vista x64, but I did run Windows 7 and do run Windows 8 in 64-bit. The only compatibility problems I've ever seen are with 16-bit programs which I cannot run any more. XP 64 had more problems, but I've even had success with that. (Then again, I didn't have to set that one up.)

I don't doubt that there were occasional problems, but there would also have been occasional problems with just Vista, regardless of bitwidth. Almost everyone who's talked about 64-bit Windows says that the issues were basically ironed out in Vista and 7.

So what compatibility problems do you refer to?

And because people on /. seem to "forget" their history, ARM isn't even close to the first non-x86 architecture that Windows has been available for; it's previously supported Alpha (NT 3.1-4.0), MIPS (NT 3.1-4.0), Power (3.51-4.0), and Itanium (XP, Server 2003, and Server 2008).

Meh. (2)

PPH (736903) | about a year ago | (#44328395)

Call me when they drop to $99.

Re:Meh. (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | about a year ago | (#44328681)

I think the Surface RT would have done a lot better if the price would have been the same price as a Nexus 7, or at least kept it at $300 or under, and included the touch cover. Without the touch cover, it's basically like any other tablet, and they were asking $500 for it. You can get them a little cheaper now, but by time you buy the touch cover, which was the only original thing about the Surface, you are spending almost as much as you would have for an iPad, and more than Nexus 10.

good! (5, Funny)

Thud457 (234763) | about a year ago | (#44328399)

Those stupid ads with college students dressed up like what art school students think office workers dress like and ecstatically breakdancing around on tables to the clacky sound of attaching a bluetooth keyboard to a tablet just creeped me the fuck out. WTF MS, why don't you just put BillG & Seinfeld in your fail-mercials like you did back in the day? Or just give me the money if you're just going to flush it down the toilet.

Re:good! (1)

DogDude (805747) | about a year ago | (#44328919)

It sounds like you watch waaay too many commercials. I have no idea what you're talking about.

But wait Windows RT is OK for a tablet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44328415)

Indeed when I bought my windows tablet I did choose a Windows 8 tablet (not trusting Windows RT). But after one year of everyday use, I have found that Windows RT would have been ok. I never installed ay desktop app

Could be worse... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44328427)

They could have released the PlayBook.

XBOX (5, Informative)

DarthVain (724186) | about a year ago | (#44328435)

"..'that sort of pricing scheme isn't in Microsoft's corporate DNA..."

Er. No. MS sold both the original XBOX and the XBOX360 at a loss to drive adoption, the exact opposite of what the author is saying MS will not do...

Re:XBOX (1)

amiga3D (567632) | about a year ago | (#44328637)

But they more than made up that loss on games sales. Consoles are traditionally sold at a loss.

Re:XBOX (2)

Joshua Shaffer (2895571) | about a year ago | (#44328741)

Microsoft ran the original Xbox division at a loss for the entire life of the console. They really did spend a lot of money building momentum for the 360 where they finally started to turn a profit.

awesome (1)

hypergreatthing (254983) | about a year ago | (#44328439)

I can't wait for microsoft to pull a HP Touchpad firesale.
Surface RT Tablets running android would be sweet.

Re:awesome (3, Informative)

amiga3D (567632) | about a year ago | (#44328651)

Two words. Secure Boot. That is I think, the entire purpose of secure boot.

No shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44328443)


is it any wonder? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44328457)

No mention of the issue that they unveiled a mobiel device in 2012 with no GPS capability, that was big for the tablet uesed as navigational aid market. I took one look at the rt saw it had no built in geolocation capabilities and walked away

Microsoft doesn't know what it wants to be (1)

hsmith (818216) | about a year ago | (#44328461)

They are caught in the mix of trying to be several things. Their bread and butter is enterprise and desktop. Why are they pushing into hardware? They really don't have the expertise to get into it - and with the Surface mess, it really shows. They need to pick their path and shed the silly ideas. Want to be a software company? Be the best you can. Don't half ass hardware - where you will get schooled by older venders.

Re:Microsoft doesn't know what it wants to be (2)

0123456 (636235) | about a year ago | (#44328657)

To be fair, Microsoft mice have always been pretty good.

Re:Microsoft doesn't know what it wants to be (1)

jbolden (176878) | about a year ago | (#44328659)

They have picked their path, ubiquitous computing. Microsoft on many of their products failed for year after year after year before they were successful. Word was way behind WordPerfect. Excel was in 3rd behind Lotus 1-2-3 and Quattro Pro. Windows was a dumb windowing system and everyone knew the future for desktops was OS/2. Etc...

They keep showing and they keep plugging away. They are pushing into hardware to push their OEMs to get on board "you do it, or we will" is the message and it had some impact.

Re:Microsoft doesn't know what it wants to be (1)

gewalker (57809) | about a year ago | (#44328667)

Don't own a windows tablet, but the hardlware looks ok to me. The real problems are price, few apps, lmited memory and the confusion with regular windows as well as being uncool (MS is not nearly as cool as Apple or Google). The limited memory is not even a hardware problem, it is the decision to waste most of of by the installed O/S. The keyboard is sweet, the camera is solid. AFAIC, The weakest hardware aspects are being a bit light on battery life and the being a bit heavy / thick for a tablet.

Re:Microsoft doesn't know what it wants to be (1)

0123456 (636235) | about a year ago | (#44328729)

It would probably be a pretty good tablet if it wasn't running Window.

Re:Microsoft doesn't know what it wants to be (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about a year ago | (#44328951)

They're going into hardware because it's pretty clear no profitable company wants to make RT devices, so if they don't directly involve themselves in putting devices on the market it won't be there at all.

The larger reason is they fear (not without justification) that the consumer market has shifted away from PCs completely, and is now firmly in the hands of smartphones, tablets and other smart devices. While Microsoft's fortunes don't rise or fall with the consumer market, the fact is that it would take a big enough swipe out of revenues to cause them concern. Worse, once the consumer market gets comfortable with non-PC computing devices running non-Microsoft operating systems, there will be creep into the enterprise market (much as Microsoft made its fortunes by creep from the enterprise market into the consumer market), and that could have serious ramifications in the medium and long term.

Goodbye Micro$haft (1)

calarndt (812628) | about a year ago | (#44328483)

Good deal!... Took them 20yrs to get to the top of the pile and it'll take them 20 or more to drop off the radar, but they'll be gone for sure...

Re:Goodbye Micro$haft (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44328601)

You've got a little drool there. Have a kleenex.

Re:Goodbye Micro$haft (2)

amiga3D (567632) | about a year ago | (#44328675)

They're like Herpes. They'll never really go away.

Repeat Performance (2)

Sponge Bath (413667) | about a year ago | (#44328489)

I remember developing on a PowerPC 601 box for Windows NT. Then... nothing. Abandoned. Wasted effort.

Re:Repeat Performance (1)

0123456 (636235) | about a year ago | (#44328793)

To be fair, Metro apps will run on desktop Window 8 as well as ARM tablets.

It's just no-one wants to run Metro apps on a 24" desktop monitor.

Re:Repeat Performance (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about a year ago | (#44328861)

It is called Hedging your bets.

Microsoft and Intel got lucky back in the Mid 80's-Late 00's. IBM gave Microsoft a too sweat of a deal, so they were able to make 100% IBM Compatible clones which was good for Intel. This flooded the market with cheaper PC's. Hurting/killing off the likes of Apple, Amiga, Commodore, TI... Then they created a near software monopoly.

However the Web began to change things around. Many of the stuff that we use to do with Installed Software has been moved to the Web. Which can run on different hardware and OSs and browsers. Microsoft did a good job of slowing this down with forcing IE compatibility but due to a bunch of wide exploits and security issues, it allowed FireFox to get into the market again causing more Cross Platform Web development like it was attended to be. So more and more stuff we use to put on our PC got put on the web, and this stuff worked on different systems. This allowed Apple to get a foot hold again in the Mac Market, because they can show they do the same stuff you can do on your PC without the hassles combined with the popularity of the iPod it created more Mac sales and people got use to using Safari (Web Kit Based Browser). Which they used in the iPhone. This has allowed the consumer the freedom to choose what platform they want, without a massive drawbacks of installing all new software. So then Android came to the market, (revamped from its initial project goals) to compete on this market. So Microsoft is facing an issue of having competition and the fact they can't claim they have more software is putting them at a disadvantage. As there is too many bad feelings from when they were a monopoly.

Now Microsoft was lucky it took that long to happen. However we all knew something disruptive could happen, at the time the PowerPC was promising architecture, which could have disrupted the Intel control. So by having a PowerPC NT port, would have been a wise hedge into the future. It didn't pan out, but it could have if things went right, then you would be happy you did.

Marketing fail. (4, Insightful)

Picass0 (147474) | about a year ago | (#44328509)

I've said before the Surface marketing was one of the nails in the coffin. The TV ads mostly featured hipster dambasses dancing and hiphoping while spinning the Surface tablet. Very little if any product knowledge is communicated.

MS has to tell people WHY they should choose their option over iPad and dozens of Androids, Kindles, and Nooks. There are tablet for all price points. Some offer decent performance and graphics. Others are affordable. Surface is.... from Microsoft. I guess that's all you need to know.

Then there's the Metro GUI fiasco. MS basically appologizes for Metro on Windows 8 and offers a Metro-less option on the new betas. What does that tell a potential tablet buyer?

I think this thing will be discontinued within a year. If I were a Surface owner I'd be hoping for an Android or Linux port right about now. Can you root a Surface??? I guess I'm lucky I don't need to worry about that one.

Re:Marketing fail. (2)

v1 (525388) | about a year ago | (#44328767)

I've said before the Surface marketing was one of the nails in the coffin. The TV ads mostly featured hipster dambasses dancing and hiphoping while spinning the Surface tablet. Very little if any product knowledge is communicated.

I find it ironic that Apple gets accused of having the biggest fanboy/cult following, and yet always advertises people using, enjoying, and having fun with their products, and then MS gets billed as the "serious" technology company whilst showing hipsters flashing, dancing, waving, and hugging their products, instead of using and enjoying them.

I don't understand how these two companies maintain such opposite images from each other.

Apple is turning into the serious, functional tech, while microsoft is turning into the useless status symbol tech. Or at least that's what their publicity is pushing.

What's the reason to buy one? (5, Insightful)

Tridus (79566) | about a year ago | (#44328511)

Microsoft has never made a case for why people would want to buy a Surface RT. What does it have going for it that makes it stand out against the competition? Lets take a look:

iPad - The brand name that made tablets mainstream, and that's a big help when selling a product. Also works well and has a ton of apps.

Android (Fire, Samsung, Nexus, etc) - The most popular ones seem to all have price going for them: they're the best game in town if you want a $250 or less tablet. Lots of people fit into that category. Has lots of apps.

Surface Pro - It runs x86 Windows apps. The market that really wants that in a tablet is niche, but still.

Surface RT - Not cheap, not blowing anybody away in hardware specs, not boasting any interesting unique apps. Aside from really wanting a Metro tablet, what's the point? (And no, the average joe doesn't really want a Metro or Windows tablet.)

Re:What's the reason to buy one? (1)

jbolden (176878) | about a year ago | (#44328715)

Wacom digitizer and OneNote. I own the Surface Pro but that was one of the reasons I got it.

Re:What's the reason to buy one? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44328805)

Ditto. And if they put whiteboading and pen support into Lync RT it would make a killer collaborative whiteboard.

The dearth of apps is definitely a problem, but honestly my experience with scrolling through the app stores on Surface, Android and iOS is that the vast, vast majority of them seem to be useless unitasking alpha-quality "fart apps"*. I have a total of four apps on my phone, and maybe use another four of the apps that came with it.

* by degree of usefulness

Re:What's the reason to buy one? (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about a year ago | (#44328899)

Wacom digitizer and OneNote. I own the Surface Pro but that was one of the reasons I got it.

You said that you got the Surface Pro, this article is about the Surface RT. Which raises the question, does the Wacom digitizer work on the Surface RT? I tried to find the information, but was unable to locate it in a cursory search.

Revelation of weakness (5, Insightful)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#44328555)

There's a certain weakness this exposes in Microsoft's products: the fact that people stay with them because they have legacy programs they can't let go of. Microsoft products don't sell themselves. The programs people want to run on them do.

Fix binary compatibility already (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44328573)

It's not that hard to write low level emulation for this is it? Come on!

Re:Fix binary compatibility already (1)

0123456 (636235) | about a year ago | (#44328699)

It's not that hard to write low level emulation for this is it? Come on!

Running programs designed for a 3GHz quad-core x86 on a 1.3GHz ARM? That'll work.

Yes, I'm sure it can be done, but probably not in a form most people would want to use. If your program is idle 99% of the time and spends most of the other 1% inside the OS it's probably OK, but anything at all CPU-intensive (e.g. software video players) is probably toast.

Re:Fix binary compatibility already (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about a year ago | (#44328841)

Except most apps these days don't need a 3GHz quad core. That's why the PC market is in the crapper. Most people are hard pressed to overwhelm a 5 year old trailing edge PC. The bloat of a new OS like Win8 is far more likely to cause problem than the apps.

The real problem is that ARM doesn't stack up to x86 even on a 1:1 basis in terms of clock speed. An Atom is going to smack around an ARM when it comes time to do actual computation.

It's like emulating current desktop app on a PC from the 90s.

It would probably work just as well as the early java version of Corel Office from back in the 90s.

Re:Fix binary compatibility already (1)

alen (225700) | about a year ago | (#44328977)

it still leaves you with less RAM on tablets which is the real limitation of the apps now

keeping the link juice to /. (1)

SmartAboutThings (1951032) | about a year ago | (#44328579)

I love it how you guys linkback to your own articles when there have been so many similar submissions, and even more interesting that just disappeared

not software but service company... (1)

unique_parrot (1964434) | about a year ago | (#44328693)

...very funny ballmer !!! must have been hard pressure to announce that right AFTER companies in EU have been warned not to save any data into the cloud.

What doomed Surface RT? (1)

randomErr (172078) | about a year ago | (#44328703)

I'n my opinion it was these things in this order:

1. Locked down OS. Windows is fairly open. RT was a locked down mess. If you wanted Android then make Android. Not Windows Locked-out edition with all the stuff we liked from past Windows blocked.
2. The Windows 8 look. Again if you would have called it Window Mobile edition people would have been more willing to try it as a, well mobile platform. But instead you made a carbon copy of the Windows 8 interface that everyone hates and marketed it as such.
3. Requirements/Price - Because of the hardware requirements and the 'Microsoft Tax' it pushed the price of these devices into the iPad with produced a...
4. Lack of good software - Its new, you practically had to buy a new version Visual Studio to build for it and you had to go through a certification nightmare to get your app on the store. BTW: Where the heck is a good version of Office or the game I can play on other tablets? Why is the #1-5 most downloaded app a replace for the Start Button.

ARM architecture needs a slim, functional Windows. This wasn't it.

Locked to their Apps store (1)

substance2003 (665358) | about a year ago | (#44328707)

While there is no end to the problems that could list this product fail. One of the key parts I feel is killing Windows RT is the fact that you must use their Apps store to get new software unlike x86 version of Windows where you can go get it from any website.While it could be argued that it helps avoid viruses and security issues for the users and give a better experience using the device it was most likely their need to control the apps and be more like Apple to get more revenue.

If the system was open with tools to program and add software, that might have made it easier for people to port software over that was open sourced.
I don't know what is available in the Windows store for RT devices since I do not own a Windows 8/RT computer but I doubt they have Blender 3D or The Gimp or Libre Office available for Surface RT and I doubt people would be willing to pay a fee (I'm assuming there is a cost to get you're app in the Windows Store) to port it over free.
Had it been easier to port software over like it currently is for Windows using x86 processors, that would have made the tablet a lot more attractive.

Kind of reminds me of something in the past (1)

Ensign_Expendable (1045224) | about a year ago | (#44328753)

"From the outset, Surface RT had an issue with the potential to mightily trip up Microsoft: While Windows RT looks exactly like Windows 8, it can't run legacy Windows programs built for x86 processors, limiting users to what they can download from the built-in Windows Store app hub." I'm thinking of the PC, Jr.

The hardware wasn't the problem. (5, Insightful)

Guspaz (556486) | about a year ago | (#44328807)

The Surface RT hardware is pretty nice. I'm an iPad user, but playing around with the Surface RT in a Microsoft store impressed me. The kickstand is neat, and the keyboard covers work really well (especially the one with actual travel). The problem was software.

People point out Metro as an issue, but that's not quite it; Metro is a travesty on the desktop (or laptop), true, but on a mobile touch platform it's very appropriate. The problem was lack of familiarity, lack of compatibility, and lack of marketing.

For the first issue, what I mean to say is that Surface RT has a full desktop interface, but restricts it severely. Metro is much better suited to a tablet, but people are used to the desktop interface, and Surface RT can still make a decent laptop (plug a mouse in and use the keyboard cover). Had the desktop been unrestricted on RT (no side-loading restrictions, same as regular Windows), then people could have transitioned more gradually, at their own pace, or even stuck to the desktop entirely if they wanted. This would have let people use the RT as a tablet when they wanted to, or as a laptop when they wanted to.

For the second issue, lack of compatibility, there is basically none. This ties in a bit to the third point, but the thing looks identical to normal Win8, so people expect it to run the same stuff. It doesn't. As has been pointed out, the architectural differences would not have prevented .NET apps from running at full speed on the RT (Microsoft just doesn't support it), and emulation of x86 code would have worked well for many apps, since any call to an OS function via Win32 would have resulted in native code execution anyhow. Depending on the application, that means that large parts of an x86 application would be running natively anyhow.

The third issue is lack of marketing. Microsoft did a terrible job educating people about what RT is (and how it differs from regular Windows), or why they would want it instead of an ultrabook or chromebook or other tablet. Users who did buy the RT were likely confused about why it wouldn't run their programs.

I think that a combination of an unrestricted desktop, compatibility with existing apps (via a native .NET environment and emulation), and better marketing could have made the Surface RT a success. Not necessarily a market leader, but at least it would have sold enough units to be considered successful. I know that I was personally tempted to get one to replace both my tablet and laptop until I realized how all the stuff that interested me would be disabled...

Microsoft cannot compete (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a year ago | (#44328829)

All this shows is that Microsoft cannot compete in the marketplace without a previous monopoly in place.

MS, Pull the "HP Touchpad! Strategy !! (1)

martiniturbide (1203660) | about a year ago | (#44328849)

...HP Touchpad was a disaster at the end.

But there was a moment when they slashed the price to $99 (16GB model) when the tablet got complete sold out and it became for a moment the best selling tablet after the ipad. The best selling tablet in quantity, not in profit.

I think that If HP would took that moment to create a successor for the WebOS tablet it will possible turned the history we know up-side down. But HP preferred to discontinued WebOS.

But Maybe Microsoft can do the same strategy, slash the prices of the "Surface RT" but do not discontinue it, release Win 8.1 for RT like it is on the plan and possible get more acceptance on the tablet market. .... I don't know, it may work.. Do you remember that with the xbox 1 MS used to loose money at first?

MyopicSoft (5, Insightful)

wcrowe (94389) | about a year ago | (#44328851)

Microsoft could change their name to "MyopicSoft" and it would fit better. They sincerely believe that they are a popular company and that people cannot wait to get their hands on Microsoft products. Too many yes men. Too many marketing people drawing the wrong conclusions from their numbers. So they produced a high-priced product that was, frankly, pretty bland. And they tried to market this bland product as the greatest tablet ever, to a yawning generation that knows when they're being lied to. What a waste of time and energy.

Other reasons (2)

Voyager529 (1363959) | about a year ago | (#44328875)

1. No Instagram client. True, this means nothing to the Slashdot crowd, but even a 41 megapixel camera is worthless if you can't share them. I don't think that this alone would cause WinRT/WP8 to remain on the shelf, but if $499 tablet X has instagram, $499 tablet Y has instagram, and $499 Surface doesn't have instagram, it's going to help narrow down the purchasing decisions pretty quick to anyone who uses the service regularly.

2. Too many migrations at once. Amongst the things that helped jump-start the iPhone back in 2007 was the fact that it integrated nicely with the iTunes library that people already had. Android integrated nicely with the gmail and picasa accounts people already had, and Google went to great lengths to simplify extending those services. Microsoft had hackneyed support for gmail ( is natively required), no official dropbox support (skydrive is natively supported), no support for iTunes (Xbox Music is natively supported), no drag-and-drop file system support; there's a fancy desktop client for it..but it doesn't work under Windows RT. Going the Microsoft route requires LOTS of changes for many people.

3. The devices that require less migration of stuff frequently cost the same or less.

4. Friends and family had iPads or Android tablets already. Easy ways to learn about new apps and figure out how to do some things are explained socially. If you're getting a WinRT device, you're standing alone. At some level, tablets are fashion accessories for many. This doesn't work when you're the only one with a tablet branded with a name reminiscent of your ridiculously locked down work PC or your slow, spyware infested home PC.

5. Little incentive for devs to help change any of this.

End users buy products not strategies (1)

Bozovision (107228) | about a year ago | (#44328991)

It's a mistake to think that the RT was the real product.

Reasons to have the RT:
1. As a reminder to Intel that MS controls the ecosystem
2. To remind hardware manufacturers who is boss.
3. As a way to blunt the rise of tablets from Apple and Android by introducing confusion.
4. As a potential future growth path - an option.

Reasons not to have RT:
1. Anything that takes sales away from Windows on PCs is bad. That's where the money is.
2. Anything that drives down the cost of hardware is bad; when the Window tax is a large percentage of the cost of a machine, it looks like Windows is too expensive. The strategic reasons would have been related to a focus on users.

None of these point mention the end-users, and they don't buy stategies. A viable tablet from MS would have been better than Apple's, with as much software, cheaper without looking cheap, faster, with better battery life.

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