Microsoft’s Surface Pro makes sense for customers. It takes the power – and app support – of an Ultrabook, and combines it with the body of a tablet. Windows RT tablets, on the other hand, make a lot less sense. Limited app support and confusing incompatibility with legacy Windows apps make them niche products. If a new report holds any water, Microsoft realizes this and is ready to pull the plug on Windows RT products.
According to the sometimes reliable DigiTimes, Microsoft will no longer launch Windows RT products, and is planning on merging the ARM-based platform into the first big update to Windows 8, codenamed “Blue.”
A recent leak of the Blue update included (according to MSFTKitchen) references to Windows RT, suggesting that Microsoft is continuing work on the struggling platform.
The DigiTimes report is scant on further details, apart from reiterating the obvious reasons for the platform’s commercial failure (which we already outlined above).
“Merging” or “killing?”
If accurate (a big if), the report sparks at least as many questions as answers. It doesn’t state that Microsoft is killing Windows RT altogether, only that it “will no longer launch products under its Windows RT line.”
Though OEMs have released their own RT devices, Microsoft’s only RT product is Surface RT. Taking DigiTimes' words literally, it only says that there won’t be a sequel to that store-shelf-dust-collecting tablet.
As for merging Windows RT into the Blue update, that's a bit more confusing. ARM-based Windows devices can't run x86 apps, so how could the two platforms “merge?” Was DigiTimes merely referring to a change in branding? Is "merging" a way of saying that Microsoft will still offer limited support for OEMs' RT devices, but isn't placing it in its own plans? Or does it simply mean RT is dead?
Questionable, but logical
Before we get too carried away, let’s remember that this report could very well be completely bogus.
Whether there’s any truth to it or not, though, the future doesn’t exactly look bright for Windows RT. It's a bold attempt to make up for Microsoft's lost ground in mobile, but it may have come too late to the party. With its sparse app selection, customers don't have enough incentive to buy RT tablets over iPads and Android tablets.
We reached out to Microsoft for comment, but they declined due to a policy of "not commenting on rumors and speculation" ... which is indeed all this is at this point.