End of the line for Windows RT?

Now this is a line we have read many a times, in many a places. The original Surface RT was met with joyous excitement upon release, but things have been in a bit of a limbo on the Windows on ARM front.

Granted, Nokia jumped in with the Lumia 2520, and Microsoft is standing tall in support of the platform.

But Intel took Computex by storm yesterday when it unveiled a 12.5-inch tablet prototype.

This was a reference design that ran on the company’s newest Broadwell architecture. An architecture that the chip giant has ported onto tablets. No longer is Broadwell confined to the traditional world of desktops and notebooks.

It was a statement of intent from Intel that showed just how serious the company is on the tablets front.

Along with impressing audience with the 12.5-inch prototype, the company also showed off a smaller version with a 10-inch display. Both are codenamed Llama Mountain.

The Intel Core M chips are based on a low-power 14nm process, and although the chips are not shipping just yet, the chip giant has promised that a wave of these hybrids machines are being prepared right now, and will hit store shelves before the year is out.

The company also mentioned that half of them will sell under the $700 mark.

Ultimately, the biggest selling point of these new devices is that they are light and thin (the larger 12.5-inch model is 7.2 mm thick, and the smaller 10-inch one, only 6.8 mm) and they as passively cooled.

So where does that leave Windows RT on tablets?

The tide, it must be said, is getting rougher for the platform, which is under attack from both sides of the market, the budget and premium. Consumers are showing increased interest in Windows 8.1 Pro.

Microsoft will be inclined to develop Windows RT based devices for another generation or two, but if things don’t add up as they should, then the technology titan could reserve the platform for enterprise usage primarily, owing to the security (along with familiarity) it provides.

It might not exactly be game over for Windows RT yet.

But the game just got a whole lot tougher.

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  1. Intel has had a strong year. There’s no doubt about that. However, I wouldn’t count the Windows RT out quite yet. Give it another year and let’s see where it is at then.

  2. The thing that as a positive for RT is that it goes into the consumption devices that are around the $200-400 range while I don’t see the devices that use this chip getting that cheap. Also a broadwell device with pro is still going to use more memory than an RT device so you’ll get the netbook effect where you had crappy performance. These chips will be awesome for thin Pro devices and the Surface 4 (to bad they didn’t get them out early enough to put in Surface 3). Thinner, lighter, using less power, sound great.

    • Excellent observation Robert.

      However, the Windows RT platform is under attack from $200 and under devices too. Windows 8.1 with Bing, remember? There still is life in Windows RT, and lots of potential too. Just not from third party vendors. Just not now.

      But the price and performance issues you mentioned with these new Broadwell devices are totally spot on. Thanks for the comment!

      • Robert Kegel / June 5, 2014 at 4:16 pm /Reply

        I think Windows RT will get better when they start using 64Bit ARM processors and DDR4. Devices will be able to handle more memory, they’ll run cooler and faster memory bandwidth. I read an article that said by next year mobile devices will be able to compete with current consoles (Xbox One and PS4). I think the 64Bit ARM will come first, DDR4 will be to expensive for a while.

    • I agree they have to get the price point right on RT devices. Personally, I think this idea of not competing with OEMs is BS. IF they don’t want Microsoft to compete, they need to make some RT devices. I still just think there is benefit to not having full Windows. There are benefits to ARM

  3. This has nothing to do with what happens to RT. RT is a mobile OS, and ARM is a mobile platform. Phone and RT are going to merge. There will still be a market out there for people who don’t need full Windows.

    • Agreed. What remains to be seen is whether that the consumers get interested in the platform again, and whether app developers still target it as much as they do now on the Windows Store.

      If not, Windows on ARM could be limited to business and enterprise usage exclusively. And that is not such a bad thing, after all.

  4. WillyThePooh / June 4, 2014 at 9:15 pm /Reply

    Surface RT is awesome. I am using it more often than win8.1 Pro.

    • I’ve had the pleasure of using both the original Surface RT and the Surface 2, and both are very capable tablets. Steadily improving too.

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