It was meant to be part of Microsoft’s grand plan to expand its Windows empire beyond the X86 desktop and into the world of tablets, taking on Apple and Google at their own game. However, it seems someone may have forgotten to tell the punters, as the company revealed in its latest fourth-quarter figures for the 2013 financial year it has taken a $900million charge for what it calls ‘Surface RT inventory adjustments‘.
The compact Microsoft tablet that runs a version of Windows on and specifically designed for ARM CPU-powered tablets didn’t overly excite the market when it was released in late 2012 and when the company began offering deep discounts earlier this year, the signs were not looking good. But these results now bring into question the future of Surface RT and whether or not a rumoured second-generation release powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon quad-core CPU will still go ahead.
Not only that but it has to bring into question the future of the Windows RT operating system itself. Liliputing has highlighted the decision of Lenovo to cut its Windows RT tablet, the IdeaPad Yoga 11, this week. Microsoft was unlikely to win many friends amongst its hardware partners when it made the decision to release its own hardware in Surface RT and effectively compete with them but taking such a massive financial hit will not have been in Microsoft’s plans for Windows RT domination. As late as June, Acer chairman J.T. Wang described the Microsoft ARM platform as not ‘so influential’, going so far as to say the company isn’t sure if it will launch a Windows RT device.
I think Windows RT suffered at launch from Microsoft’s decision to lock-down the device and allow users to only install apps from the Microsoft Store. But when coupled with the lack of apps at launch, the operating system didn’t have many compelling reasons for consumers, apart from the bundled Microsoft Office, included with Windows RT devices.
It now seems Microsoft’s home-brand Surface RT tablet hasn’t improved the situation.
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