Dell exec warned Microsoft that Windows RT branding would confuse consumers

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
An executive at one of Microsoft's largest PC partners, Dell, warned that the "Windows RT" branding for its tablet operating system might confuse consumers because it does not run traditional Windows applications.

Jefferey Clarke, vice chairman at Dell and president of its PC business, said at the Dell World conference last week that he warned Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer that the Windows RT branding could be detrimental to the product, according to CNet.

Ballmer, however, disagreed with Clarke, and argued that the Windows branding was too important not to be used in Microsoft's product.

Clarke may have been right: Microsoft has reportedly needed to revise its return policies for its Surface tablet running Windows RT, as a number of customers have apparently returned the hardware after discovering it cannot run traditional Windows applications.

The reason is Windows RT is designed to run on low-power ARM processors rather than traditional PC X86/X64 chips. As a result, Windows RT cannot be purchased separately ??it is only available preinstalled on ARM-powered devices, such as the Microsoft Surface touchscreen tablet.

Surface


Further confusing matters is the fact that Windows RT features both the touch-centric Windows Metro interface, as well as a traditional-style Windows desktop layout. Windows RT also includes touch-optimized versions of Microsoft Office applications, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint and One Note.

However, even though Windows RT looks like Windows 8, the underlying architecture of the operating system is very different, which prevents legacy Windows applications from running on the new platform.

Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer made headlines last month when he said sales of the Microsoft Surface had gotten off to a "modest" start. The company began expanding availability of the Surface beyond its own retail stores just last week in an effort to boost sales and exposure.

While the entry-level Surface running Windows RT cannot run traditional Windows applications, Microsoft's forthcoming Surface Pro tablet will run the full-fledged Windows 8 operating system and will have access to legacy apps. The Surface Pro will launch early next year starting at $899 for the 64-gigabyte model.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 78
    "Oh, and your computers themselves don't? Please, we're Microsoft! People buy from us because we're their only option. We don't have to worry about this."
  • Reply 2 of 78
    "The company began next year starting at $899 for the 64-gigabyte model." - And AI confuses readers.
  • Reply 3 of 78


    Um, yeah.  That whole RT designation.  Dumb.


     


    I am not certain how a group within MS becomes so insulated as to believe this was actually a good idea.  


     


    That someone from Dell had to point it out to them should only serve as a case and point and irrefutable evidence.

  • Reply 4 of 78
    Ballmer really needs to let go of the past if he wants MS to be relevant in the future. I agree with Clarke and think that if Windows RT would have simply been called Metro OS it would been a refreshing change from the stodgy ol' MS of the 90s and a much bigger hit. I think even the Surface RT tablet could have been more of a success with more leeway given to it's obvious shortcomings.
  • Reply 5 of 78
    clemynxclemynx Posts: 1,496member
    I think the naming is a good idea. Bad for the consumer, but good in the long term. It's meant so that people begin to understand that windows can run everywhere and people will be able to do the same stuff everywhere, even if it's not the case yet.
  • Reply 6 of 78
    gazoobeegazoobee Posts: 3,754member


    I don't see that the branding has anything to do with it.  There are two distinct products with two distinct names (Windows RT & Windows 8).  


     


    The confusion is really created by the fact that there are two identical operating systems (that aren't in fact identical), running on two identical (but completely different) hardware platforms.  It's not the naming or the branding, it's just the stupid decision to market two, competing, completely incompatible systems that look and work exactly the same.  

  • Reply 7 of 78
    gazoobeegazoobee Posts: 3,754member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by ClemyNX View Post



    I think the naming is a good idea. Bad for the consumer, but good in the long term. It's meant so that people begin to understand that windows can run everywhere and people will be able to do the same stuff everywhere, even if it's not the case yet.


    This makes no sense.  What's the point of having Windows "running everywhere" if it doesn't look like Windows, act like Windows or run Windows programs?  

  • Reply 8 of 78
    clemynx wrote: »
    I think the naming is a good idea. Bad for the consumer, but good in the long term. It's meant so that people begin to understand that windows can run everywhere and people will be able to do the same stuff everywhere, even if it's not the case yet.

    But I think that's where the problem lies (or is it lays?). It doesn't make sense to say an app is a Window app if the OSes are so disparate that you can't run the OS across the platforms. Metro UI isn't even a windowed OS so it confounds me more that they would call it Windows at all. Besides the name change I think they should have used WP8 as the foundation for the WinRT OS. All now have WinNT kernel — which is a great achievement — but there just seems to be so much crap still in WinRT that the only viable option for MS on the Surface RT was to start with 32GB storage so you have about as much free space as the 16GB iPad. I think this issue extends to performance and battery life of Surface RT, too.
  • Reply 9 of 78
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    gazoobee wrote: »
    I don't see that the branding has anything to do with it.  There are two distinct products with two distinct names (Windows RT & Windows 8).  

    The confusion is really created by the fact that there are two identical operating systems (that aren't in fact identical), running on two identical (but completely different) hardware platforms.  It's not the naming or the branding, it's just the stupid decision to market two, competing, completely incompatible systems that look and work exactly the same.  

    That's Microsoft for you. I mean, they didn't learn from their past mistakes that forcing UI paradigms to far outside of its optimal use causes problems. They thought that a "Start" menu was appropriate for phones with 2" screens of all things. A tile interface designed for a 4" screen is just awkward and a waste of real estate on a 24" screen.
  • Reply 10 of 78
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by ClemyNX View Post



    I think the naming is a good idea. Bad for the consumer, but good in the long term. It's meant so that people begin to understand that windows can run everywhere and people will be able to do the same stuff everywhere, even if it's not the case yet.


     


    If it’s meant to make people understand that, then it’s a failure: you CAN’T make people understand something that is so immediately and clearly not true. They try to run a Windows app... it won’t run... the name Windows RT won’t help them understand that someday, some other Simon Says product may work better.


     


    If the name serves that purpose, the name shouldn’t be used until the purpose is true. (Which I’m not expecting it will be—not on iPad-style tablets, which are the future.)

  • Reply 11 of 78
    solipsismx wrote: »
    But I think that's where the problem lies (or is it lays?). It doesn't make sense to say an app is a Window app if the OSes are so disparate that you can't run the OS across the platforms. Metro UI isn't even a windowed OS so it confounds me more that they would call it Windows at all. Besides the name change I think they should have used WP8 as the foundation for the WinRT OS. All now have WinNT kernel — which is a great achievement — but there just seems to be so much crap still in WinRT that the only viable option for MS on the Surface RT was to start with 32GB storage so you have about as much free space as the 16GB iPad. I think this issue extends to performance and battery life of Surface RT, too.

    What crap in Windows RT are you referring to?
  • Reply 12 of 78
    clemynx wrote: »
    I think the naming is a good idea. Bad for the consumer, but good in the long term. It's meant so that people begin to understand that windows can run everywhere and people will be able to do the same stuff everywhere, even if it's not the case yet.

    LOL. Like Windows CE? It was ALSO called Windows, but it couldn't run Windows software, but it existed so Microsoft can say it has Windows on low-power ARM processors.
  • Reply 13 of 78
    nagromme wrote: »
    If it’s meant to make people understand that, then it’s a failure: you CAN’T make people understand something that is so immediately and clearly not true. They try to run a Windows app... it won’t run... the name Windows RT won’t help them understand that someday, some other Simon Says product may work better.

    If the name serves that purpose, the name shouldn’t be used until the purpose is true. (Which I’m not expecting it will be—not on iPad-style tablets, which are the future.)

    So people are going to try install and run a Windows app that's not available through the Windows store? Is that what you're saying people are going to try and do?


    Do people really want to install OS X apps on their iPads? No?

    Then why do people not seem to comprehend the reasoning behind RT? Its a tablet OS that shares certain usability features with Windows 8.
  • Reply 14 of 78

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post





    LOL. Like Windows CE? It was ALSO called Windows, but it couldn't run Windows software, but it existed so Microsoft can say it has Windows on low-power ARM processors.


     


     


    Very good point. But MicroSoft Motto is "Win-Dows-Eve-Ry-Where". Repeat after me ".....

  • Reply 15 of 78

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post



    Ballmer really needs to let go of the past if he wants MS to be relevant in the future. I agree with Clarke and think that if Windows RT would have simply been called Metro OS it would been a refreshing change from the stodgy ol' MS of the 90s and a much bigger hit. I think even the Surface RT tablet could have been more of a success with more leeway given to it's obvious shortcomings.


     


    I'm thinking "Surface OS" would have worked as well. Something other than "Windows blah" anyway. I still don't understand why RT had to have the traditional windows interface and Metro. Seems like RT could have just had Metro and the Pro version could have done both and been Windows 8. Either way, glad Microsoft cannot get their act together. I'm all for them loosing their desktop dominance as we transition to tablets.

  • Reply 16 of 78
    jeffdm wrote: »
    They thought that a "Start" menu was appropriate for phones with 2" screens of all things.

    That one I give them a pass on. Those phones/PDSs were designed to be used with a stylus, but more importantly Windows was at the height of their game so I can understand a desire to keep doing what is working and take advantage of the mindshare they had at the time.
  • Reply 17 of 78


    It can't run Windows apps? The Microsoft store employee told me it Plays for Sure...

  • Reply 18 of 78
    To put in context how silly this is: imagine if Apple had launched the MacPad, a tablet that ran a munged mix of Mac apps (but only those ported to a new CPU) and touch-screen apps. Can't imagine this? Luckily, neither could anyone at Apple.

    Microsoft doesn't lack imagination. The problem is they have the wrong kind.
  • Reply 19 of 78


    The problem is, even if the naming is a good idea for the long term, if MS does not attract customers now, there will be no long term. Thats why you hook them now, then keep them later. It's not bait and switch, it's bait, then bait again, and on and on. I'm very surprised a company the size of MS with all the MBAs they have why they can't figure out basic sales and marketing. This tells me they have no idea what they are doing up in Redmond. 

  • Reply 20 of 78
    LOL. Like Windows CE? It was ALSO called Windows, but it couldn't run Windows software, but it existed so Microsoft can say it has Windows on low-power ARM processors.

    Quite. iOS is at core a port of OS X to a new platfom, with a fair amount stripped out. No confusion, because it has a different name. The common branding is the Apple logo. Why is Microsoft unable to leverge their own name and logo as a brand? Windows is only one of many products they sell.
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