With Microsoft's dismissal of Windows RT, the fate of any future ARM support is unclear
During the past three years, Microsoft has awed by first embracing the ARM ecosystem then putting it aside. Microsoft presented for the first time a Windows system on an ARM ecosystem (also referred to as Windows RT) in 2012, a move which the technology world considered bold and a vital component for future Windows devices. However, in the present day this concept seems to be all but ignored.
This announcement is not, however, a confirmation that Microsoft will never use the ARM ecosystem ever again. Presently, the company is trying to come up with a solution to merge their Windows environment with all devices, and this includes phones as well. It also means that all those devices will still be able to support ARM products. The only bad news is that the conventional desktop ARM support will slowly fade away and any future ARM hardware will be part of Windows market subsets.
All the things wrong with Windows RT
The renouncing of Windows RT created a domino effect of bad decisions over multiple levels for Microsoft. To begin with, the usage of Tegra 3 SoC for the first generation Surface RT was not powerful enough to offer a top tablet experience. Then Microsoft did such a poor job at explaining the subtle differences between a Windows RT and the usual x86 Windows that rumors began to spread about user purchasing the hardware, running it at home then returning it after realizing desktop applications were not compatible with the hardware.
Looking back, Microsoft’s decision to not use the desktop on Windows RT was a bad one. Even though the desktop had a few functions which the Metro design could not replace, the simple sight of familiar icons and interface took away a lot of the windows RT’s appeal because experienced costumers were expecting the same compatibility and flexibility they were used with.
Another flaw that should have opened the doors of a new stage in profit for Microsoft was the Microsoft Store. If users wanted to tweak the PU settings on their Nvidia hardware, they were very disappointed. Surface RT has no suitable Nvidia Control Panel equivalent.
The reason why Windows RT exists to begin with is only based Microsoft’s assumption that Intel would not be able to come up with a CPU which could compete with ARM devices in the lower tablet market. As it turned out, the launch prices on x86 tablets supported that assumption. Not to mention that the idea was that Microsoft ‘ Intel tablets would dominate the lower end. To their dismay, serious lack of software mixed with a generally poor experience quickly showed that ARM products would fail to meet those terms. In the meantime, Intel kept trying until finally coming up with both tablet and phone compatible processors which could match their ARM counterparts unlike any previous hardware generations ever could.
The past years made it clear that Microsoft is not able to solve RT’s issues. They tried updating the hardware with the release of Surface 2, but still did not address the things which did not work in the first place. A logical move would have been to plaster a x86 emulator on the Surface RT, or to make a third RT device powered by Nvidia’s Tegra K1 or either a Samsung or Qualcomm chip equivalent. Those kind of devices would have been able to bridge the x86 software gap even though the software would not have run fast enough. Microsoft has decided to develop their Windows Phone devices and eventually develop their ARM support for them .