Samsung has just given Microsoft the big thumbs down, announcing that it’s cancelled plans to release a Windows RT version of its upcoming Ativ Tab in the US, saying that the operating system is “confusing” for consumers.
Mike Abary, head of Samsung’s PC and Tablet operations in the US, said that the company had originally planned to release its RT tablets later this year, but now says that it has decided against it in light of poor demand from its retail partners.
The decision is doubly unfortuntate for Microsoft due to its timing, coming just days after CEO Steve Balmer took to the stage with Qualcomm’s Paul Jacobs at a CES keynote, brandishing an Ativ Tab to show off its capabilities.
Abary said that as well as being insufficient demand for a Windows RT-based Ativ, he was worried that customers would have to be ‘trained’ in how to use the operating system:
“There wasn’t really a very clear positioning of what Windows RT meant in the marketplace, what it stood for relative to Windows 8, that was being done in an effective manner to the consumer. When we did some tests and studies on how we could go to market with a Windows RT device, we determined there was a lot of heavy lifting we still needed to do to educate the customer on what Windows RT was.”
“And that heavy lifting was going to require pretty heavy investment. When we added those two things up, the investments necessary to educate the consumer on the difference between RT and Windows 8, plus the modest feedback that we got regarding how successful could this be at retail from our retail partners, we decided maybe we ought to wait.”
The rejection by Samsung is yet another blow for Microsoft, whose RT platform has struggled against the Android OS, and also its own full Windows 8 platform which offers more functionality.
The big winner in this will likely be Intel, given that it will now become the sole supplier of chips for Samsung’s Windows 8 tablets. Windows RT after all, is a platform specially designed for those systems running on the ARM-based chips produced by Qualcomm.
Abary did hold out a small lifeline for Windows RT, saying that if demand arose for the platform Samsung would certainly reconsider its position. However, given that Intel’s first Bay Trail tablets are expected to arrive by the summer, that look to be an increasingly unlikely scenario.