The upstream supply chain is chattering to DigiTimes again, this time comparing Microsoft's Windows RT ARM-based variant of Windows 8 with HP/Palm's doomed webOS platform. They say that most brand vendors have already stopped developing RT products, leaving Microsoft's second-generation Surface RT the only tablet in the works based on the struggling OS.
The news arrives after Microsoft confirmed that it plans to sell Surface RT tablets at $199 to K-12 schools and higher-education institutions. The plan was announced prematurely by Ryan Lowdermilk, Microsoft's technology evangelist, who quickly pulled his blog announcing the deal. But the Redmond company acknowledged the price and said more will be revealed on June 24.
Microsoft also just recently announced that Outlook 2013 RT will be joining the other Office apps in Windows RT (opens in new tab) including Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. It will be part of the free Windows RT 8.1 "Blue" update planned to be released later this year. Until just recently, Windows RT was the only current Windows platform that shipped with Office pre-installed.
Sources claim that despite these two factors – along with dropping Surface RT prices in Japan – demand for Windows RT products won't be high. As it stands now, Microsoft has only achieved 3 percent and 1 percent of the tablet and smartphone sectors respectively.
On the smartphone front, Microsoft is reportedly facing a similar issue. Acer, Asus and ZTE have supposedly started putting their Windows Phone 8 device development on hold, thus making it difficult for Microsoft to gain momentum in the smartphone market. If that weren't bad enough, Android and Tizen are spilling into the PC market, joining Chrome OS as a popular Windows alternative.
A lot seems to be riding on Windows 8.1 and Windows RT 8.1. Microsoft has taken partial blame for the decline in PC sales due to a poor response to the touchy new interface. The company also didn't make the wisest of decisions with its DRM scheme for Xbox One. But the company has rectified that, and is looking to calm the restless natives with its free OS update later this year. Question is, will it be enough?