Microsoft admits to 'some confusion' over Surface RT naming

Microsoft admits that there was confusion over the differences between Surface RT and Surface Pro tablets, which led to the name being dropped from second-generation Surface tablets.

Microsoft has admitted that the 'RT' name was dropped from its second-generation Surface tablets in order to alleviate confusion.

Surface Pro
(Source: Microsoft)

Speaking to ARN, Microsoft Surface product manager Jack Cowett admits that the RT name caused bewilderment among buyers.

"We think that there was some confusion in the market last year on the difference between Surface RT and Surface Pro," said Cowett. "We want to help make it easier for people, and these are two different products designed for two different people."

The problem with Windows RT is that the name meant nothing to users. The name suggested that it was a new version of Windows, but the RT suffix was ambiguous and gave consumers little clue as to what the differences between it and 'regular' Windows was.

One of the main differences as far as users were concerned was that Windows RT couldn't run traditional Windows applications and was instead restricted to what was available from Microsoft's Windows app store.

This crucial difference between Windows and Windows RT was badly communicated to retailers too. I personally came across several retailers who were trying to upsell software, especially antivirus suites, for Windows RT tablets that the operating system couldn't run.

Microsoft is now the last man standing with respect to Windows RT-powered Surface tablets, with Dell (which had urged Microsoft to change the confusing RT branding), Lenovo, Asus, and Samsung currently having no Windows RT hardware in their line up. There are however rumors that Nokia may be working on a Windows RT tablet due to be released shortly.

According to my sources within the industry, not only were Windows RT hardware sales low, but also returns were also higher than anticipated.

Personally, I think that there is room for Windows RT in the ecosystem. Just as iOS and OS X can co-exist, if Microsoft can clearly define the benefits of Windows RT – of which there are many – then a cut-down, easier to administrate version of Windows could work for both the enterprise and consumer markets.