Posted by:Ranjani Rao January 31st, 2013

Ever since the news of Windows Surface Pro featuring the proper Windows 8 OS has spread, Windows RT fans have dwindled. Microsoft released Windows RT as a tamped down tablet (vis-à-vis one sporting a fully qualified operating system) that had the advantages of a longer battery life owing to the underlying ARM processor and thinner form factor. However, these positives are not good enough for takers in the enterprise space. Windows RT has lately received a cold shoulder from many manufacturers such as Samsung, HP, and Toshiba. The lack of interest comes from a middling sale of Windows RT tablets, terrible confusion between Windows RT and Windows 8 platforms, lack of marketing, and clearly, a falling confidence in the tab’s survival in a highly competitive market. (Windows RT tab sales amounted to just 7% of iPad sales in the same period.) And to top it all, there aren’t many Windows RT apps in the market.

Windows RT – Fading advantages

ARM processors are popular choices with many tablet makers as they are cheaper and less power-hungry that Intel counterparts. However, this advantage is growing dimmer as Intel is coming out with less power consuming  x86-based processors such as the Atom Z2760 ‘Clover Trail’ CPU. The chip powers the Z2760-based Samsung ATIV Smart PC that lasted for 9.14 hours in a battery life test conducted by PCWorld.

Windows 8 is also winning the price war despite Intel processors still being costlier than ARM cores. This is because of competitive brands launching Windows 8 notebooks at prices that match Windows RT offerings. Dell Latitude 10 is a perfect budget tablet that’s available for $499. Similarly, the 32GB Acer Iconia W510 Windows 8 hybrid is an excellent option at $549.

Windows Surface Pro for Enterprise

With the consumerization of IT and the influx of mobile devices in the enterprise, IT administrators are becoming even more concerned about the security features of devices and platforms. Windows RT lacks adequate security features to make it as an enterprise class product.

On the other hand, Windows Surface Pro is bound to have many takers in the corporate space with enterprise security features like Applocker, DirectAccess, Windows to Go, UEFI Secure Boot support, Integrated anti-malware/Windows Defender, Picture Password, SmartScreen filter, ASLR and exploit mitigations, Windows Reader, Bitlocker, Encrypting File System, Domain membership and Group Policy Objects.

Windows Surface Pro has the potential to grow into a corporate owned device that’s as commonplace as the PC.

Microsoft’s tryst with ARM is not taking off in the market. This was clearly evident at CES 2013 where Windows RT tabs were conspicuously missing and Windows 8 tabs were grabbing the limelight. Even ARM processors had a bad day when Lenovo Yoga 11S (successor of Yoga 11 that featured Windows RT) was announced with an Intel core.

Enterprise interest is solely on Windows Surface tablets now and even consumer interest in Windows RT is waning. Has Microsoft made a mistake?

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