Microsoft’s plan to bring Windows to low-power ARM processors, Windows RT, has struggled from the start — and now high-level partners are losing faith.
Based upon weak sales of its existing Windows RT devices, Asustek has dropped plans to create future devices running the platform, the Wall Street Journal reports.
“It’s not only our opinion; the industry sentiment is also that Windows RT has not been successful,” Asus CEO Jerry Shen told the paper.
As Microsoft geared up to launch Windows 8, Windows RT made a certain amount of sense: It would finally enable Windows to play on the same field as iOS and Android, both of which use inexpensive, low-powered ARM processors. But RT was also confusing to consumers since it’s only compatible with newer Windows 8 apps, not the plethora of older Windows software. Its performance also left much to be desired (RT was one of the big reasons I gave Microsoft’s Surface a failing grade).
Adding to the pile-on, CEO Jen-Hsun Huang intimated during Nvidia’s earnings call yesterday that Windows RT was the major reason sales of Nvidia’s Tegra chip has declined. Tegra sales were $52.6 million for the last quarter, down 71 percent from last year. Huang also expects Tegra sales to fall as much as 40 percent this year.
“Coming into the year we had pretty high expectations on one particular platform and there’s no sense mainly, but it’s a very important platform that also derived from it a lot of design wins,” Huang said during Nvidia’s earnings call (via SeekingAlpha’s transcript). “And because this particular platform just didn’t do as well as we or frankly anybody in the industry had hoped, we don’t expect as much returns on that investment as we originally hoped.”
For Nvidia, it’s yet another burn from Microsoft. The company’s original Tegra chip was one of the big selling points of Microsoft’s Zune HD media player, which failed spectacularly. Microsoft was positioning Tegra 3 as the ideal Windows RT platform, but at this point it seems Nvidia will focus more on its upcoming Tegra 4 chip.
So where does this leave Windows RT? Microsoft ended up taking a $900 million charge due to poor sales of the RT-powered Surface, and with its partners losing faith, I can’t imagine why the company would continue to back the platform. It makes more sense for Microsoft to focus more on promoting Windows 8 for x86 chips, like Intel’s and AMD’s, rather than trying to play in the ARM sandbox.