First and foremost, Windows RT represents a new day in computing where the consumer can once again choose from multiple architectures by selecting the desired power, performance, features, and price rather than the processor.
Fourth, by sharing the new programming model and interface, it will be easier for software developers to provide solutions to all the Windows platforms going forward. This has proven valuable to the Android platform. Unlike Android, however, Microsoft will likely maintain a tighter control on the platform, which will reduce the potential for industry fragmentation.
And finally, supporting ARM-based platforms will help Microsoft move to a more internet-focused business model, which the company has already begun to do through both cloud-based applications and services like Office 365, Skype, and Microsoft Cloud. The shift to an internet-focused business model is a must for Microsoft to compete against Google and other internet powerhouses, and the use of hosted and hybrid applications shifts some of the system requirements of many consumer electronics platforms, especially mobile where the ARM architecture is dominant.
But several things need to occur for Windows RT to succeed. This includes the same level of promotion and support from Microsoft as given to Windows 8 and Windows Phone; an equivalent or better user experience than Windows 8, Apple, and Android platforms; and a complete internet platform and strategy from Microsoft. Based on Microsoft’s promotional strategy to-date it would seem that the company is not going to promote Windows RT as aggressively as it should. In regard to the user experience relative to other platforms, the demo units in circulation thus far are not up to par with the competition, especially the Apple platforms.
The user experience on the new Windows RT platforms is good, but there are quirks, such as not being able to switch some applications from landscape viewing to portrait viewing, that some users may find annoying. While some of these quirks will likely be eliminated in future releases, it is doubtful that they will be changed before the launch later this month. And in terms of an internet strategy, Microsoft is putting the necessary pieces in place, but it still appears more piecemeal then a cohesive strategy. In addition, Microsoft has failed to promote a complete cloud solution.
This does not diminish the importance of Windows RT, because it does mark some major changes in the industry. Unfortunately, those changes are likely to take several years and the impact of the launch will be far less than it could or should be for Microsoft, Microsoft’s Windows RT partners, and the industry. But then again, even the adoption of the Windows 8 will take several years.