Windows 8 or RT tablet? Retail may be a guide

Windows RT is not taking the world by storm. That's something to consider when buying a Windows-based tablet.

Microsoft Surface RT.  It's still around but products from other PC vendors are fading fast.  RT does not offer the Windows compatibility that Windows 8 does.
Microsoft Surface RT. It's still around but products from other PC vendors are fading fast. RT does not offer the Windows compatibility that Windows 8 does. Microsoft

Wondering whether to buy a Windows RT tablet? The status of RT at retail may be a good guide.

As of Wednesday evening, the Microsoft store listed no Windows RT tablets aside from Microsoft's own Surface RT. Tablets like the Asus VivoTab RT are no longer listed (though the Intel-based VivoTab is on the site). Even Dell's XPS 10 -- reduced this week to $299.99 -- is absent.

On the other hand, the store lists more than a dozen Windows 8 tablets based on either Intel Core processors or Intel's Atom chip.

On Tuesday, Microsoft Chief Marketing Officer Tami Reller, speaking at a technology conference, said RT is not going away. And Microsoft provided a statement to CNET about the dearth of systems on its online store.

"Microsoft stores carry a curated product assortment...We regularly update our store offerings, based on customer feedback and product availability," said Jonathan Adashek, Microsoft's general manager of Communications Strategy

But that doesn't quell doubts about the long-term viability of an operating system that isn't compatible with millions of x86 Windows applications -- as Windows 8 is.

Hewlett-Packard has never offered an RT tablet, Dell has been reduced to heavy discounting, and Asus' VivoTab RT now goes for around $350 on Amazon, down from $599.

RT does have an upside. At $499, the Surface RT, for example, is decidedly less expensive than Surface Pro and comes with Microsoft Office Home and Student 2013 RT. It is also thinner, lighter, and boasts much better battery life than the Pro, making it competitive with Apple and Android tablets.

And PC vendors like Acer may bring out new tablet and hybrids based on Windows RT 8.1. As will Microsoft, of course.

But will RT gain momentum down the road? That's always possible but a snapshot of the market today doesn't provide a lot of hope for a vibrant RT ecosystem. And upcoming Windows 8 tablets based on Intel's Haswell and Bay Trail processors may offer many of the benefits of RT cited above with, of course, full compatibility with older Windows applications.

Dell's XPS 10 Windows RT tablet, shown with keyboard dock, is now $299.99, reduced from 449.99
Dell's XPS 10 Windows RT tablet, shown with keyboard dock, is now $299.99, reduced from 449.99 Dell
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.

 

ARTICLE DISCUSSION

Conversation powered by Livefyre

Don't Miss
Hot Products
Trending on CNET

Hot on CNET

CNET's giving away a 3D printer

Enter for a chance to win* the MakerBot Replicator 3D Printer and all the supplies you need to get started.