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Is There Hope for Windows RT?

While Microsoft continues to promote Windows RT, the version of its client OS designed to work only with software offered via its Windows Store interface, third-party support is fading fast.  

Other than Microsoft's Surface RT, try finding anyone else who offers a tablet with Windows RT. I swung by my nearby Microsoft Store, Best Buy and Staples, and the only Windows RT device I could find was the Surface RT.

In the latest sign that everyone appears to be cutting bait on Windows RT, ASUS last week said it's dropping its Windows RT-based systems, while Acer said it was scaling back. Last month, Lenovo said it would no longer offer the Windows RT-based version of its IdeaPad Yoga. And HP long ago tossed its plans to offer a Windows RT tablet.

Both Acer and ASUS also started selling smaller form-factor Windows 8 tablets, now priced below $400. The ASUS VivoTab Smart ME400, priced at $399, has a 10.1-inch display, weighs 1.3 pounds and has a claimed battery life of 9.5 hours.

The 8.1-inch Acer Iconia W3, which costs $299, is in the same size range as the iPad Mini, most Android tablets and the larger Kindle Fire. While the Acer Iconia W3 hasn't received rave reviews, with full Windows 8 hybrid tablets-PCs hitting the sub-$500 price point, it's no wonder these companies are putting their Windows RT counterparts on ice.

However, not everyone is abandoning ship. Dell still offers the XPS 10, which it introduced last October with the launch of the operating system. Even with that Windows RT tablet, no one would accuse Dell of flaunting it. Has anyone spotted one of these?

If anyone can save Windows RT other than Microsoft itself, it's Nokia. The mobile phone company that has pinned its survival in the smartphone market on Windows Phone is said to have a Windows RT-based tablet in the works. According to Microsoft-News.com, Nokia will announce its Windows RT device at an event in New York. According to the report, the 10.1-inch tablet is based on Qualcomm's quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor and equipped with LTE support.

It will have to be pretty inexpensive and offer long battery life to gain any footing. The keyboard will reportedly have an added battery for extra power. As far as pricing is concerned, consider the new Lenovo ThinkPad 2 LTE tablet: That 10.1-inch device with an Intel Atom processor, 2 GB of Ram and a 64 GB solid-state drive costs $699 for just the base model and $119.99 for the optional keyboard. It gets 10 hours of battery life, according to Lenovo, and comes with Windows 8.

Unless the next iteration of Windows RT devices can outperform their full Windows 8 counterparts -- presumably from the next crop of Surface RTs and possibly from Nokia's offerings -- it could be an uphill battle. That is, of course, unless Microsoft can further lower the economic bar and show that developers are actually on board. It wouldn't hurt to see some more apps surface, pardon the pun.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 08/21/2013 at 11:32 AM


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