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Analyst: Microsoft must improve Windows 8 and kill Windows RT to succeed with tablets

by Doug Drinkwater

June 7 2013

Jack Gold believes that Windows RT is on borrowed time
Jack Gold believes that Windows RT is on borrowed time

Gold Associates founder and principal analyst Jack Gold clearly doesn’t think much of Windows 8 tablets. The researcher claims that Microsoft has “lost its focus in tablets”.

When writing in a new research note today, Gold commented on rumors circling of Microsoft cutting Windows RT license fees to OEM vendors by advising Steve Ballmer to focus on improving the features of Windows RT, not by reducing prices.

“Why does it think it can 'dumb down' its OS to please users who have grown accustomed to the features and functions of a full Windows OS experience?” wrote Gold, on Microsoft’s ARM-powered Windows RT, which doesn’t support conventional desktop apps.

“If Microsoft believes its OS is not competitive with iOS or Android, it should do something about that directly. And it can’t compete on a direct cost basis with Android at the low end, nor should it try.

“The way Microsoft wins is to be seen as a premium brand (like Apple) not a cut-rate, low-cost solution. It needs to pick a set of features that everyone wants/needs in a tablet. Make sure they work exceedingly well in full Windows 8, including full app support/compatibility (giving away a reduced Office app and limiting backwards compatibility hasn’t been a successful strategy).

“Create a user experience that no one can fault as being too difficult and/or unfriendly. And build a strong brand that appeals to users in the consumer space.”

Gold actually thinks that getting Microsoft’s tablet strategy back on track is rather simple; just by ditching Windows RT.

“Put all you efforts into making the Windows Pro experience what users want. Work with Intel and OEMs to make the Widows 8 tablet price competitive with Android (not at the low end, but at the mid to high market).

“Build incentives for OEMs, as you’ve done in the past with PCs. This will leverage the innovation in the marketplace. And most importantly, build incentives and community for users with a fast, fully compatible, attractive and well-priced device. Surface (not Surface RT) should be the flagship, but it was priced too high and wasn’t clearly defined as to why it was different. It can be the flagship, but it can’t carry the entire market.

“So here’s the bottom line. Microsoft, you don’t really need an ARM based tablet now that Intel has competitive (battery and cost) chips available and frankly few users care about the chip inside anyway.”

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