Asustek plans on killing its manufacture of Windows RT tablets.
“It’s not only our opinion, the industry sentiment is also that Windows RT has not been successful,” Asustek CEO Jerry Shen told The Wall Street Journal, which reported that the manufacturer had taken an unspecified write-down on Windows RT tablets in the second quarter of this year.
Manufacturers backing out of Windows RT could prove embarrassing to Microsoft, which was counting on the operating system to compete toe-to-toe against Apple’s iOS and Google Android. Windows RT is a version of Windows 8 for tablets that rely on the ARM chip architecture, which these days constitute the majority of that market. Windows 8, like previous versions of the operating system, was built for x86 devices.
In July, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer admitted at an internal company event that Windows devices hadn’t been selling well enough, according to a report at the time from Neowin. As part of its most recent quarterly earnings, Microsoft also announced that it would take a $900 million charge against Surface RT devices, its branded tablets running Windows RT. While Microsoft has refused to share many details about the sales performance of the Surface RT or Surface Pro (the latter of which runs “full” Windows 8), research firm IDC suggested earlier this year that the devices had sold just under one million units; there are no indications that Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets built by any other manufacturers are performing any better.
According to IDC, Windows RT holds 0.5 percent of the tablet market, lagging behind x86-based Windows at 4.0 percent, Apple’s iOS with 32.5 percent, and Google Android with 62.6 percent. Apple and Amazon are expected to release new tablets within the next several months, which could complicate things even further for a Microsoft still struggling to have its tablets accepted in the open marketplace.
Windows RT’s failure to attract a sizable audience could drive developers and app-builders away from the platform, which in turn could weaken it still further.