ARM still sees potential in Windows RT despite recent poor sales.
This week during World Mobile Congress 2013, ARM CEO Warren East still seemed hopeful about Microsoft's Windows RT platform despite the current lackluster numbers in sales. He said that the Redmond company will learn from its mistakes with the new non-x86 platform and regroup with a better product.
"I'm well aware there is a perceived wisdom that RT hasn't been as successful as lots of people thought it was going be," East said during an interview. "Quite certainly I'm sanguine about it."
Microsoft launched Windows RT alongside Windows 8 back in September 2012. The company even released its own branded Windows RT "Surface" tablet months later, yet sales figures have been "poor" to the point where Microsoft won’t even release its own numbers. The biggest issue thus far seems to be that it's a Windows environment that isn't compatible with x86-based Windows software.
Just this week, Acer said that it planned to release a Windows RT tablet later this year, but added that Microsoft needs to improve on the platform's usability and provide a clear value proposition. HP, Microsoft's biggest client, still hasn't produced a Windows RT device, opting to use Android for its upcoming 7-inch tablet instead.
Despite the numbers, East indicated that Microsoft won't follow HP and give up on a new OS so quickly. He said that the Redmond company will continue to bang out the wrinkles until Windows RT offers a smooth, exceptional experience for consumers. That said, Microsoft will likely roll out the next version later on this year as part of its annual "Blue" update.
During the interview, East hinted that Microsoft is working on a 64-bit version of Windows RT. "Companies like Microsoft, everybody in the technology space, when they look at ... ARM in the future are thinking about 64-bit," he said, adding that ARM and Microsoft have had a rich dialog that has picked up in recent years.
Chips based on ARM's 64-bit architecture, called ARMv8, is expected to be introduced in 2014 and shipped in volumes in 2015.
Microsoft's Windows RT is one of many operating systems flooding the mobile market. On the phone side, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, Firefox OS, Tizen, Ubuntu Touch and iOS all work on ARM-based chips. On the tablet front, Chrome OS and Ubuntu Touch works on both ARM and x86-based chips while Windows RT, iOS and Android only reside on ARM. Windows 8 Pro is x86-based, allowing customers to install their favorite Windows programs on the Surface Pro and similar tablets.
Stepping back and looking at the entire smartphone/tablet spectrum, there are a large number of platforms spanning two architectures. East said the industry will slim the number down to just a few in a couple of years.
"In time it'll be like it is in the automotive market where at different stages you end up with one or two leaders," East said. "The market kind of matures."