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Microsoft Surface May Be Only Windows RT Left in Market

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 34 comments

Dell has removed the XPS 10 from its lineup, leaving the Surface as the only machine running Windows RT.

Dell has stopped selling its Windows RT-based tablet, the XPS 10. There's no indication whether the company permanently dropped the device, or is simply waiting to announce a new version on October 18. However, market watchers have already pointed out that Microsoft is currently the only company producing a Windows RT device with the upcoming launch of its Surface 2. Windows RT partners have seemingly jumped off the Windows RT bandwagon since the end of last year, and Dell is the last manufacturer to bail.

From what we've heard, new Windows RT devices are likely on the way next month. Dell may have simply sold out of its XPS 10, and is waiting on Microsoft to give the green light – this isn't uncommon. But given that Microsoft took a $900 million kick in the pants for unsold Surface RT tablets, you have to wonder what's really going on in the Windows RT market. The updated RT 8.1 is supposedly a vast improvement, but consumers will still face a brick wall when wanting to use their x86-based desktops apps on ARM-based hardware.

Both Microsoft and Nvidia have made it clear that they're not giving up on Windows RT, and Microsoft's Operating Systems division is hell-bent on creating one silicon interface, one set of APIs, one cloud service, and a tailored experience for each form factor. That means eventually we'll see one marketplace that caters to both x86 and ARM-based platforms. As we've seen with Surface 2, Microsoft is already trying to tear down the x86/ARM wall just in name alone.

Check out our Surface 2 coverage below:

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  • 3 Hide
    Kieran Warren , September 27, 2013 12:27 PM
    That and the Nokia tablet being released soon. Its no surprise really, although Windows RT can probably do a lot more than most tablets, if you want a windows tablet you would want one that can run all your programs and not just the extremely limited app store on Windows RT, I'm on the lookout for a Windows 8 tablet that is capable of playing some of my old steam games. Intel graphics is probably capable of some of them, although I'd prefer an AMD if possible
  • 2 Hide
    will1220 , September 27, 2013 12:33 PM
    Hey Microsoft, let windows rt join a domain and see it fly off the shelves for schools looking for a cheaper alternative to ipads and other laptops.
  • 1 Hide
    the1kingbob , September 27, 2013 12:38 PM
    They need to get into the 7inch domain I think before they will do well. The 7 inch android tablets are doing quite well, because of size and price. If Win8 could get a well equipped RT for under 300 I think they would sell more. Currently you are looking at over $400 to get in with the keyboard (which is an awesome feature) and that is a bit more than people want to bite off.
  • Display all 34 comments.
  • 1 Hide
    will1220 , September 27, 2013 12:40 PM
    Quote:
    They need to get into the 7inch domain I think before they will do well. The 7 inch android tablets are doing quite well, because of size and price. If Win8 could get a well equipped RT for under 300 I think they would sell more. Currently you are looking at over $400 to get in with the keyboard (which is an awesome feature) and that is a bit more than people want to bite off.


    Microsoft gave schools (K-12) a discount down to $199 a unit, the only reason my schools isn't getting them, is that they cant join our domain.
  • 0 Hide
    g-unit1111 , September 27, 2013 12:42 PM
    Quote:
    Hey Microsoft, let windows rt join a domain and see it fly off the shelves for schools looking for a cheaper alternative to ipads and other laptops.


    I agree, had they not locked Windows and allowed full Windows 8 to be installed on the Surface and priced it below what a basic 16GB iPad Mini runs for, this thing would be FLYING off the shelves. The hardware on the Surface RT is great, way better than Apple A5 / A7, but the lack of the ability to run x86 programs hurts the device and its' potential use in an IT environment.
  • 2 Hide
    stevejnb , September 27, 2013 12:49 PM
    G-unit... Are you sure about the full Windows 8 thing? To be more specific, is Windows 8 more hardware intensive than Windows RT? Because, I'm actually typing this from my Surface RT and I find the RT's hardware to be sufficient for what it does, but none too much. You still have a bit of delay loading apps, you still get a bit of lag loading up web pages. I do not get the feeling the RT's hardware would run a more demanding OS well.

    Besides that, wouldn't a Tegra 3 be outright unable to run x86 applications, and isn't that exactly what the Surface RT has?
  • 1 Hide
    JD88 , September 27, 2013 1:12 PM
    I think g-unit meant replace the ARM chips with something like Intel's Bay Trail or AMD's Temash for x86 support.

    That's a big problem with RT, it really isn't much more optimized than full Win 8 which is why it is sluggish on ARM chips. If it were more optimized, and took up a lot less disk space, this article might not exist.

    What they need to do is merge RT with Windows phone (much more optimized for ARM) and have it on tablets 8" and under and then full Windows 8 on everything above.

    This would likely eliminate the desktop, but does anyone really need the desktop on an 8" tablet?
  • 0 Hide
    g-unit1111 , September 27, 2013 1:23 PM
    Quote:
    G-unit... Are you sure about the full Windows 8 thing? To be more specific, is Windows 8 more hardware intensive than Windows RT? Because, I'm actually typing this from my Surface RT and I find the RT's hardware to be sufficient for what it does, but none too much. You still have a bit of delay loading apps, you still get a bit of lag loading up web pages. I do not get the feeling the RT's hardware would run a more demanding OS well.

    Besides that, wouldn't a Tegra 3 be outright unable to run x86 applications, and isn't that exactly what the Surface RT has?


    While as a moderator I can't really mention the process (but you know, *wink wink*) I've seen people find ways around the limits of the RT operating system and be able to run x86 applications on the device. It's not a question of whether the hardware is capable of running full Windows. The hardware is certainly capable of running programs like iTunes and Firefox, any audio applications, hardware drivers, DVD players, things of that nature. It's a question of why did they lock the operating system? Judging from the reviews and articles I've read, and my personal experience with the device, the answer seems to say it was just a lazy decision on behalf of Microsoft's marketing department.

    Quote:

    That's a big problem with RT, it really isn't much more optimized than full Win 8 which is why it is sluggish on ARM chips. If it were more optimized, and took up a lot less disk space, this article might not exist.


    That's another problem I have with RT is that it really is a full version of Windows without the ability to run x86 applications. I'm sure that's more the fault of Microsoft's marketing department than the developers of the device. Theoretically it is entirely possible to build a tablet with the hardware of the Surface and a full version of Windows and still use Tegra 3. You would probably just have to switch the ARM processor for an Intel Atom or another low powered chip. You could also run a far more basic version of Windows that takes up less room - just remove about 1/2 the bloatware that comes with it.
  • 1 Hide
    stevejnb , September 27, 2013 1:29 PM
    Thanks JD and G, both interesting and informative. I'd assumed that RT, while a disk space hog, would have been optimized to run a little more lightly than a complete version of Windows Pro.

    And G... I may take a look around and find a non-mod who is familiar with these dark arts you speak of.
  • 1 Hide
    godfather666 , September 27, 2013 1:54 PM
    Ironically, this may be a good thing for Microsoft. If it doesn't have OEM partners, it doesn't need to worry about them, which means it can make bolder steps, price it more competitively.
    And you can tell - it's now cheaper and offers much better value than the first version.
    But I can't see who would be interested in the Surface RT, other than people who just like to try every new piece of technology outhere.

    I guess with Office and a keyboard, maybe some businesses would pick it up? not sure.

    It's a good product, but just not compelling enough at this price point.
  • 0 Hide
    godfather666 , September 27, 2013 2:12 PM
    G-unit, I'm not sure it's as simple as you described. x86 apps simply can't run on ARM without being recompiled... I don't think it's something MS could have fixed.
  • 1 Hide
    CaedenV , September 27, 2013 2:36 PM
    This just in: Various world governments sue Microsoft for having a monopoly on their WinRT platform, hardware, services, and app store. Apple hides behind corner and snickers.
  • 0 Hide
    CaedenV , September 27, 2013 2:36 PM
    *sigh* doubble post, sorry
  • 1 Hide
    CaedenV , September 27, 2013 2:42 PM
    Quote:
    G-unit, I'm not sure it's as simple as you described. x86 apps simply can't run on ARM without being recompiled... I don't think it's something MS could have fixed.


    You can absolutely run x86 on ARM hardware... it is just via emulation which is just a bit slow and painful. Not going to be playing AAA x86 video games on an ARM box, but you can run a bunch of different office programs with minimal issue. Ubuntu OS takes it a bit further running windows applications through WINE to get it run run on Linux, and then via x86 emulation. I have not seen it in person, but it has shown up in a few videos they put out last year. I imagine it runs pretty slow, but it really opens up a lot of potential.
  • 0 Hide
    g00fysmiley , September 27, 2013 2:46 PM
    agree on the smaller form factor. and I am VERY in favor of putting x86 to pasture and with arm now having x64 it should be possible, more competition is good and nwo we have intel amd and... well via harly counts at this point until somebody take over but thier lic can't be soel so they are kinda boned anyway. but a switch to arm/x64 would allow other chip makers to compete
  • 0 Hide
    CaedenV , September 27, 2013 2:47 PM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    They need to get into the 7inch domain I think before they will do well. The 7 inch android tablets are doing quite well, because of size and price. If Win8 could get a well equipped RT for under 300 I think they would sell more. Currently you are looking at over $400 to get in with the keyboard (which is an awesome feature) and that is a bit more than people want to bite off.


    Microsoft gave schools (K-12) a discount down to $199 a unit, the only reason my schools isn't getting them, is that they cant join our domain.


    Which is crazy considering all of the iPads that find their way into schools... those things are such a PITA to get to work with domain resources! Still, you would think that the ability to add to a domain would be a huge priority for the release of RT 8.1 for the Surface 2 because it would instantly become the defacto device for use in schools... but noooo. MS has so much potential, but 0 ability to follow through with a complete thought or coherent product!
  • -1 Hide
    RedJaron , September 27, 2013 2:52 PM
    Quote:
    I agree, had they not locked Windows and allowed full Windows 8 to be installed on the Surface and priced it below what a basic 16GB iPad Mini runs for, this thing would be FLYING off the shelves. The hardware on the Surface RT is great, way better than Apple A5 / A7, but the lack of the ability to run x86 programs hurts the device and its' potential use in an IT environment.

    I'm not sure how you plan to run x86 on an ARM architecture without some type of emulation layer. And then you have to deal with compatibility problems when programs start calling functions that have no direct translation between Win32 and RT. Even recompiling doesn't help if the proper libraries and system functions aren't available on RT/ARM.

    The only solution at that point is to have a full x86 architecture on the tablet from the get-go. A full x86 chip, OS, and trimmings on that small a form-factor and all under $500 is pretty hard to pull off. Maybe with Silvermont you can pull it off, and if they do I'd be first in line to buy one.
  • -1 Hide
    CaedenV , September 27, 2013 3:10 PM
    Quote:
    agree on the smaller form factor. and I am VERY in favor of putting x86 to pasture and with arm now having x64 it should be possible, more competition is good and nwo we have intel amd and... well via harly counts at this point until somebody take over but thier lic can't be soel so they are kinda boned anyway. but a switch to arm/x64 would allow other chip makers to compete


    1) ARM has never been efficient, just low power. ARM has gained in popularity because it is cheap technology to lease and manufacture, and the minimum power requirements have been low enough to get OK performance from portable devices. But minimum power usage just means low power usage, not efficiency. Efficiency is how much a processor can do with a given amount of power, and in that x86 reigns supreme and alone. With x86 processors coming out next year that will have comperable minimum power requirements I think we will see a surge of x86 phones and tablets flooding the market in 2015 and ARM will start to die down a bit.

    2) The only company in the ARM community that can compete with Intel on R&D is Apple, and they will not lease their secret sauce to anyone, because they are apple and they never do. So in the future we will see Apple phones, tablets, desktops, and servers with ARM chips in them, and maybe a few other players like Samsung holding on to ARM simply because of the sheer amount of investment they have put in the platform over the years, but then just about everyone else will be running AMD or Intel x86 processors in everything.

    Thankfully I think that Apple will be big enough to keep Intel in check with threats that they could start selling their chips to other device manufacturers, and Intel will always make sure that AMD does not go away so that Intel is not viewed as a monopoly. But I don't think that ARM in general will retain it's mobile dominance unless they somehow can compete with what Intel has coming down their pipeline.
  • -1 Hide
    JD88 , September 27, 2013 3:33 PM
    Quote:


    1) ARM has never been efficient, just low power. ARM has gained in popularity because it is cheap technology to lease and manufacture, and the minimum power requirements have been low enough to get OK performance from portable devices. But minimum power usage just means low power usage, not efficiency. Efficiency is how much a processor can do with a given amount of power, and in that x86 reigns supreme and alone. With x86 processors coming out next year that will have comperable minimum power requirements I think we will see a surge of x86 phones and tablets flooding the market in 2015 and ARM will start to die down a bit.

    2) The only company in the ARM community that can compete with Intel on R&D is Apple, and they will not lease their secret sauce to anyone, because they are apple and they never do. So in the future we will see Apple phones, tablets, desktops, and servers with ARM chips in them, and maybe a few other players like Samsung holding on to ARM simply because of the sheer amount of investment they have put in the platform over the years, but then just about everyone else will be running AMD or Intel x86 processors in everything.

    Thankfully I think that Apple will be big enough to keep Intel in check with threats that they could start selling their chips to other device manufacturers, and Intel will always make sure that AMD does not go away so that Intel is not viewed as a monopoly. But I don't think that ARM in general will retain it's mobile dominance unless they somehow can compete with what Intel has coming down their pipeline.


    Agreed. The only reason ARM is still slightly ahead in the extreme mobility game is because the trend toward power efficiency caught Intel with their pants down. Intel is just so far ahead of everyone else in terms of R&D capabilities and process that it's laughable. Look at how far they've come in such a short time. Bay Trail is already on par with the latest ARM tablet chips in terms of power consumption and crushes them in performance. It's only a matter of time before the same thing happens with phones.

    However, from a price standpoint there will always be a need for cheap ARM chips in Low to mid range devices so Intel won't have a total monopoly again, just over the high end.
  • 2 Hide
    Blake Nesbit , September 27, 2013 4:22 PM
    It still absolutely baffles me that people have so many issues with Microsoft releasing a version of their OS that can't run desktop applications, when that is the EXACT same thing that Apple and Google are doing.
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