Why Windows RT tablets are set to fail

Why Windows RT tablets are set to fail

Summary: Long awaited Windows RT-powered tablets are beginning to appear on the radar, but if what I'm seeing now is representative of the devices as a whole, they're poised to fail, and fail dramatically.


Tablets powered by Microsoft's new Windows RT operating system have made an appearance in the listings of online retailers, and based on what I've seen so far, they are destined for failure.

The first Windows RT tablet to appear on the radar is the Asus Vivo Tab RT, turning up in the listings on a number of retailers, including NewEgg and TigerDirect.

What's so wrong with the long-awaited tablets?


The most obvious problem is price. The base tablet starts at a grimace-inducing $599, which is $100 more than you can pick up a base iPad or Android tablet for. While there are some hardware differences between the Asus Vivo Tab RT and its Android cousin, the Asus Transformer Prime, most of that $100 is down to the cost of the Windows license -- in other words, a Windows tax.

The price surprises don't end there. The Asus Vivo Tab RT can be docked into its own part-keyboard part-battery pack. This feature adds another $200 to the price -- if you shop around you can grab it for $150 -- taking the base package to a stratospheric $799.

Rehash of Android hardware

Another problem with the Asus Vivo Tab RT is that it's not strictly speaking new hardware. Instead it's a rehash of the Android-powered Asus Transformer Prime, which retails for $499. The Asus Vivo Tab RT features double the memory -- 2GB instead of 1GB -- but it has the same Nvidia Tegra 3 processor, the same 10.1-inch 1280x800 IPS display, and the same 32GB of storage.

The fact that the Asus Vivo Tab RT and the Asus Transformer Prime look like twins separated at birth, only the Windows RT one has a heftier price tag, is bound to raise a few eyebrows.

Specification soup

Rather than being told in plain English what the Asus Vivo Tab RT tablet can do for me, I'm faced by a mass of specification. I know what a Tegra 3 is, and why 2GB of DDR3 is a good thing, but the average consumer isn't going to have a clue.

It's a win for Apple and the iPad.

Apple doesn't spend much time boring people with specifications. Instead it offers two iPads -- "Wi-Fi" and "Wi-Fi + Cellular" -- in three different storage sizes -- 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB. Simple. People understand the difference between the "Wi-Fi" and "Wi-Fi + Cellular" models, and the concept of storage is easily understood by all.

If Asus is anything to go by, Windows OEMs are planning to sell Windows RT tablets in much the same way that they sold PCs two decades ago -- by focusing on the specifications. This was a tactic that worked when CPUs were measured in megahertz and hard drives in single-digit gigabytes. But these days buyers -- consumer and enterprise alike -- care less about what's inside a computer and more about what it can do for them.

This is a lesson that most Windows OEMs have yet to learn.

Image source: Asus.

Topics: Windows, Hardware, Tablets

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Heh

    I like how Windows 8's tablet UI is supposedly gonna work great on desktops, but the actual windows 8 tablets are 'doomed to fail'. Not sure if Microsoft devided by zero or just heard too many confused fanboys.
    • The real yardstick is Surface

      Most OEMs are too lazy to come up with one specific hardware for RT. It's up to MSFT to set the example for them.
    • Windows RT is doomed to fail. Windows 8 will get better...

      There presently is no reason to even consider a Windows RT tablet. It just runs Microsoft store apps (the few that there are), it doesn't offer better battery life, it doesn't come anywhere near the offerings of Android or iOS in terms of pricing, app quantity, quality, functionality, or customisability. Even worse, you can get a windows 8 tablet, and it will run windows Apps the same way it does on Windows RT, so there is literally NO incentive to get RT. Buy a full Windows 8 Tablet, Windows RT isn't even worth a second look. The full windows 8 tablets are hardcore competition because you can run your regular work programs. I use my TF810 for 3D modeling/animation, Photoshop and Creative Suite, not to mention, spreadsheets, real word processors, and real web experience with Flash support, and you know what? It's GOOD to be out of App-land! This RT nonsense is just confusing people. My boss is seriously pissed off that his kid's not going to be able to use the brand new RT tablet for school, because it can't even run MS Office.
  • Microsoft's Mobile Efforts Are Defensive, Not Offensive

    Microsoft's tablet and phone operations are hamstrung by the requirement not to tread on the toes of their desktop cash cows. This leads to the positioning of Windows Phone and Windows RT as something rather less than proper computer operating systems. Apple is the same, but the most successful platform in this space--Android--is under no such restrictions. Android is successful because it has no scruples about whose toes it treads on. As a result, it can offer a wider and more powerful range of products, and the difference is very apparent to the customers, who are flocking to it in droves.
    • iPhone5 usage destroyed Samsung S3 in 3 weeks

      " flocking to it in droves" my rear-end. Looks like you got the direction wrong, again!

      • Limited data set may not equal reality

        I like how the fan boys take the leap from ad views provided by single provider and then relate that to general usage. There are so many factors that can influence the data that the information is nothing more than interesting.
        • That sword cuts both ways.

          "There are so many factors that can influence the data that the information is nothing more than interesting."

          Every ZDNet post should come with that as a warning.
    • You would not happen to have transcripts avaliable

      from the board meeting in which it was noted that Surface has the requirement not to tread on the toes of their desktop cash cows, would you?
      John Zern
  • Pointsless points

    AKH's points are one of the stupidest arguments I heard regarding WinRT failure in recent weeks... iPad/android are not proper computers, while Win RT IS!!!

    Just wait for two quarters of sales before making any judgements, consumers are not idiots unlike some bloggers.
    • yep

      MS havent even released pricing yet (apparently they will do today) of their own tablets.

      Those are base prices, ill take notice of them when that is the price i can buy them from a shop.
    • Incorrect assessment

      A WinRT tablet isn't as proper a computer as you seem to make out, at least no more or less than an iPad is. They certainly won't be able to run regular Windows software.
      • true

        But the browser won't be hobbled like every other tablet I have used I the last year is.
      • Incorrect comment

        Applications on Win RT are based on WinRT the new Windows Runtime that will replace the Win 32 API and run in a secure sandboxed OS on both ARM and Intel. You're confusing the future with the past.

        For most consumers the ability to run Office, interface with their email and social media and have the best current browser, IE10 all accessed by the same interface they can use on multiple platforms, is all the Windows software that they'll need and if not, there'll be another 100,000 new apps to choose from. As for the current Win 32 applications, the useful ones will be ported to WinRT and MS still has the best software development system and the most developers using those tools.

        I imagine desktop Win32 apps will be supported for as long as DOS apps were supported. I managed to move from DOS to Windows development, so I don't see any real problems moving to WinRT.
        • Exactly!

          WinRT is supported both on ARM and Intel tablets as well as all future Intel PC's. If developers ignored WinRT, its like ignoring millions of desktop users in the coming year.

          Check some numbers, current iPad numbers in the range of 80 million while just Windows 7 users are over 800 million. Even if 10% of existing Windows users buy it to maintain consistency in use that is enough to make WinRT a huge success.

          So the question is not whether they will get success, but how soon they will get it. Is that in few months or a year at the max.
    • The question remians.

      Are consumers looking for "proper computers" in a tablet form factor? I think the success of the iPad already answered that question but Microsoft will try their best to change that perception. But Windows RT is hardly the "proper" computer one would expect running Windows. It can only run Office, it's not backward compatible with current Windows software. How is that any different from the iPad?

      You guys starting to sound like BlackBerry fans in 2007 when Apple introduced the all touch-screen iPhone. "it's not a real smart phone, plus consumers are looking for physical keyboards not full touch-screen". Where is RIM today compared to the smart phone market? Ignore the trend at your own peril.
  • Like take a smartphone, review entire list of smartphone cos I'm lazy

    That's the attitude of this article, this guy completely fails to see the upside of things or even review atleast 2-3 OEMs' products before setting out his predictions.... That's just to say 'I told you so'. CHEAP!!! Trying reviewing the products for a difference, i will use astrologer for predictions pulled out of thin air!!!
  • Another article from Mr. Smarty Pants....

    He's got nothing intelligent in his blog!!!!
    • I meant to say, "another useless article"...

      Useless it is....
      • And yet you commented twice

        If you think his articles are useless, why bother even clicking on them, let alone responding to them twice?
        Third of Five
        • And yet you commented twice

          Buddy! he is trying to remove the colorful apple googles from your eyes. But I think that it is not an easy job.