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Microsoft Dropped "RT" From Surface to Avoid Confusion

By - Source: PC Advisor | B 39 comments

Microsoft explains the "RT" drop in Surface 2 label.

Microsoft's product marketing manager for Surface, Jack Cowett, recently admitted that Microsoft dropped the "RT" from its latest ARM-based Surface tablet to reduce customer confusion. Microsoft reportedly blamed "customer confusion" for the lack of sales of its first-generation Surface RT model, which ended up costing the company $900 million in fiscal Q4 2013. Removing the "RT" will supposedly help alleviate that confusion even though Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 use two different architectures.

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

The new Surface 2 will feature a 10.6 inch ClearType 5-point screen with a 1920 x 1080 resolution, powered by Nvidia's Tegra 4 SoC, 2 GB of RAM and Windows RT 8.1. Other features will include a 3.5MP camera on the front, a 5MP camera on the back, an SD card reader, Wireless N and Bluetooth connectivity, HDMI output, 32 GB or 64 GB of internal storage, and more. It will also have a new two-stage kickstand based on customer feedback from the previous model.

"We got quite a lot of really good feedback from the original Surface Pro, but one thing people said to us was, 'hey if you really want us to use this thing on your lap, you need to make it easier to use as a laptop'," he said. "We've added a second angle for the kickstand, so it's much more comfortable to use on your lap. It's a tiny change but it makes a huge difference."

The problem Microsoft will face, whether it uses "RT" in the device name or not, is that customers purchasing the Surface 2 won't be able to install their favorite x86-based desktop apps. Granted, Microsoft made a bad choice in offering Surface RT exclusively in Microsoft Stores and Microsoft's website until the end of 2012. Surface Pro's faring better (even though it costs a bit more) shows what customers seemingly want in a Windows device. Yanking the "RT" out of the device name could be seen as a little deceptive to customers who don't know the difference between ARM and x86-based architecture.

Recently, there's been a lot of talk about Microsoft moving to one storefront and eventually merging Windows Phone and Windows RT. The Windows team is even shooting for one silicon interface, one cloud service, one set of APIs and one marketplace spanning both architectures. A big push in this direction is supposedly beginning in Spring 2014, but we'll see.

Back on October 2, the Surface blog was updated with news that pre-order stock of the Surface 2 (64 GB) and Surface Pro 2 (256 GB and 512 GB) were close to selling out, even at Microsoft Stores. How many units were actually available to pre-purchase is unknown, as Microsoft will likely avoid the same overstocking misstep it took with the original Surface RT.

However, the Register reports that Microsoft only shipped a total of 2,000 Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 units to nine resellers in the UK, 1500 of which were Surface 2 models. That said, Microsoft may be "selling out" of Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 pre-purchase stock, but this stock could be highly limited in numbers.

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  • 17 Hide
    Hando567 , October 12, 2013 12:07 PM
    LOL!! So last year customers were confused that when they got their surface RT with Windows RT that it wouldnt run normal windows apps. I know! Lets just call it the "Surface 2" without RT, but load it with Windows RT anyway, so now when customers buy it they dont even know it has windows RT on it!! This way people who hate RT might still buy it!

    Classic M$, just decieve the customers.
Other Comments
  • 17 Hide
    Hando567 , October 12, 2013 12:07 PM
    LOL!! So last year customers were confused that when they got their surface RT with Windows RT that it wouldnt run normal windows apps. I know! Lets just call it the "Surface 2" without RT, but load it with Windows RT anyway, so now when customers buy it they dont even know it has windows RT on it!! This way people who hate RT might still buy it!

    Classic M$, just decieve the customers.
  • 7 Hide
    de5_Roy , October 12, 2013 12:18 PM
    microsoft dropped the RT suffix so that they can trick people into buying surface 2 (running windows RT) instead of surface pro, which can run regular windows apps.
    poor attempt to cheat people.
  • 5 Hide
    assasin32 , October 12, 2013 12:19 PM
    Brilliant idea, drop RT so the people who do know about it don't know whether or not RT is loaded up on it. Now people will just think Surface 2 = low end, Surface 2 Pro = high end and not know there is an OS change.

    Should have kept the RT, the confusion was with what Windows RT was not the naming scheme on the product. In fact the naming scheme was the part that made perfect sense, put RT on the product running windows RT to stop the confusion. They just failed at telling people what Windows RT was.
  • 5 Hide
    vmem , October 12, 2013 12:52 PM
    by dropping RT, we just have Surface 2 and Surface 2 Pro... running COMPLETELY DIFFERENT OS's... doesn't that make it more confusing?

    if I didn't know better I'd assume Suface 2 ran windows home addition and the 'pro' ran professional...
  • 3 Hide
    Vorador2 , October 12, 2013 1:01 PM
    This is rich. I expect now lots of angry consumers returning their new Surface 2 tablets complaining they don't run windows apps. Not to mention the amount of shady salesman being deceptive and marketing the tablets as full windows computers.
  • 0 Hide
    joaompp , October 12, 2013 1:05 PM
    Pure classic M$ in all its glory
  • 1 Hide
    ddpruitt , October 12, 2013 1:08 PM
    Quote:
    Microsoft reportedly blamed "customer confusion" for the lack of sales of its first-generation Surface RT model


    It wasn't customer confusion but Microsoft confusion that caused the problem. Poor compatibility and a new confusing interface didn't help. That has to be fixed before they can really sell these things.
  • 0 Hide
    SteelCity1981 , October 12, 2013 1:44 PM
    first off 4 gb of ram should be in these things, seriously 2gb of ram simply isn't enough anymore you need at least 4gb of ram. secondly surface 2 only comes with 32gb or 64gb of hard drive space? seriously by the time windows 8.1 is installed you already ate up 15gb of space 32gb is a joke. they should at least come with 80gb or 120gb of hard drive space.
  • 1 Hide
    mdbrotha03 , October 12, 2013 2:10 PM
    Damn now I have to tell people to look for the Surface Pro 2 and to stay away form the Surface 2 and RT. I hope that doesn't confuse them.
  • -6 Hide
    mstngs351 , October 12, 2013 2:10 PM
    Quote:
    LOL!! So last year customers were confused that when they got their surface RT with Windows RT that it wouldnt run normal windows apps. I know! Lets just call it the "Surface 2" without RT, but load it with Windows RT anyway, so now when customers buy it they dont even know it has windows RT on it!! This way people who hate RT might still buy it!

    Classic M$, just decieve the customers.


    No, what we have here is classic mindless MS hate. The people who were confused and buying the wrong tablet were confused. Get it? They didn't know what Windows RT was in the first place so having it on their was of no help to them. At least this way uninformed people can look at the two and have a clear idea as to which one is better instead of trying to guess between RT and Pro.

    There really isn't much MS can do to stop stupid people who buy something without looking into it. I've lost track of how many times my girlfriend came home complaining that another customer brought back a Samsung (or whatever) tablet thinking it was an ipad... All MS can try and do is cater to the lowest common denominator and get rid of a second, nondescript name.
  • -2 Hide
    IAmVortigaunt , October 12, 2013 2:14 PM
    Who cares if it doesn't run your legacy apps? It's an ARM tablet. This thing isn't designed to run PhotoShop or hugh end games, none of which are touch optimized for a TABLET. This device is more like an iPad with some additional features like side by side apps and a keyboard for typing, plus office. I preordered one.
  • 1 Hide
    warezme , October 12, 2013 4:20 PM
    I hope they like returns because they may TRICK a few people into purchasing the cheaper one thinking it was just a better value until they realize it is just a limited phone OS that won't run anything not tied to the store. Then the buyer will be po'ed and return it more likely driving them to get an ipad because they will feel cheated by MS.
  • 0 Hide
    g-unit1111 , October 12, 2013 4:29 PM
    Quote:
    I hope they like returns because they may TRICK a few people into purchasing the cheaper one thinking it was just a better value until they realize it is just a limited phone OS that won't run anything not tied to the store. Then the buyer will be po'ed and return it more likely driving them to get an ipad because they will feel cheated by MS.


    While I agree with that for the most part, MS is cheating its' customers by not correctly marketing this tablet as a PC running Windows. There are tablets out there that will run full Windows - like the Dell Venue - and they are much less expensive than iPads. If MS would show that it actually a tablet OS and not a PC OS running on a tablet, then I think that customers would be far less confused. Of course dropping Windows RT is only going to make things worse.
  • 0 Hide
    DryCreamer , October 12, 2013 4:47 PM
    Cuz the only thing more confusing than having 2 different products that people didn't understand the difference between is having 2 different products that people don't understand the difference between and GIVING THEM THE SAME NAME?

    Dry
  • 0 Hide
    DryCreamer , October 12, 2013 4:50 PM
    Whatever consulting firm is telling MS to transform their business model in Apple's really needs to have their contract terminated and figure something else out... :/ 

    Dry
  • 0 Hide
    LORD_ORION , October 12, 2013 4:55 PM
    Buy a Mac, buy an iPad... you have the exact same problem.

    I don't understand why people are so quick to jump on the Ms hate over this one issue.

    The main problem with Surface is that MS thinks Office RT is worth something (it isn't) and priced it at an insane level.

    Since the price reduction, the original Surface is probably the best tablet to buy out there... but the damage is already done.

    BTW surface RT can join a Windows network and use also remote desktop. If you use Windows as your primary OS, you're a mutton head for picking an iPad over a Surface after the price reduction. (before price reduction, there was a compelling argument about the insane price of Surface Rt)
  • -1 Hide
    mstngs351 , October 12, 2013 4:57 PM
    Ok, lets pretend you don't know squat about cars and didn't do any research (the type of people who would be confused) before going to buy one. If you saw a Suzuki Swift GT and a GTi sitting next to one another you wouldn't have a clue as to which one was better. However if you saw a Swift and a Swift GT sitting next to one another then you wouldn't know exactly why, but could safely assume that the GT is the better version.

    Same kind of deal for the Surface. Folks who didn't know better weren't being helped by the RT tag but if they vaguely remember a friend or family member telling them to get the better one (be honest, mom won't remember "don't get the RT") then they would have a better chance of snagging the Pro. Or visa verse.
  • 0 Hide
    w8gaming , October 12, 2013 6:09 PM
    Quote:
    Whatever consulting firm is telling MS to transform their business model in Apple's really needs to have their contract terminated and figure something else out... :/ 

    Dry


    It is not just the consulting firm. This whole issue has MS senior management blessing on it. The root cause is obviously apparent and I am sure plenty of MS staff and managers can see that, but none dare to say anything due to decisions from senior management.
  • 0 Hide
    Alathorne , October 12, 2013 6:40 PM
    Wow, lots of agreement on this issue. MS marketing is trying to disassociate Surface 2 from Surface RT and the latter's infamous market failures. IIRC, Surface 2 has improved hardware, but is the limited software improved any?
  • 0 Hide
    boldintrepid , October 12, 2013 8:12 PM
    Some of my friends can't tell the difference... MS should really point out that you can't run windows programs. They should just name it surface tablet lol. Btw, Can't customers just return the RT?
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