Microsoft's tablet OS isn't liked but lives on

Windows RT is in product purgatory. Not popular and nowhere to go. The problem is, ARM is everywhere.

Samsung ATIV Tab, Windows RT version: Samsung has canceled sales of Windows RT tablets in key markets.
Samsung ATIV Tab, Windows RT version: Samsung has canceled sales of Windows RT tablets in key markets. Samsung

OK, we know Microsoft's tablet OS isn't popular. So, what's next?

First, a look at the short, checkered past of RT, which rolled out on October 26, 2012.

That's not a complete history, but you get the idea. As of today, Microsoft is pretty much the sole survivor among the big players. (Though old RT devices are still being sold, like Dell's XPS 10 tablet announced way back in August 2012 and Acer tablets, among others.)

What happens now? The company said on Friday that it was committed to ARM . (While that statement made no mention of a commitment to RT, Microsoft has a history of referring to RT as Windows on ARM or WOA.)

I've been told that Microsoft is planning a 7.5-inch tablet . Because of its small size, that's a good candidate for ARM with integrated 4G/3G.

The bigger point is, Microsoft believes in ARM. Every best-selling tablet on the planet today runs on ARM. So, you can't blame Microsoft for thinking something like: We can't afford not to run a tablet on ARM. That's pretty much what Corporate Vice President Michael Angiulo said back in March .

IDC has suggested that Microsoft collapse Windows Phone (which also runs on ARM) and RT into one platform, making it more like Apple's iOS.

Whatever happens, it's probably a good opportunity for readers to chime in. I'm guessing Microsoft is all ears.

About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.


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