While the initial reaction to Windows RT devices was not entirely favorable for many critics, since one of the advantages of sticking with a Windows device is the backward compatibility, there are some indications that Windows-based ARM tablets will have a fighting chance. One of the more important advantages will be price. According to Lenovo’s David Schmook we can expect some very good deals on Windows RT tablets.
In a Bloomberg interview, Schmook declared that “RT will play in consumer and retail at very aggressive price points”. The direct marketing to consumers, he indicates, will include these devices being sold for anywhere from $200 to $300 less than their Windows 8 counterparts.
This should come as no real surprise given Microsoft’s hints about pricing for the Surface. The difference in price between leading ARM tablets and Ultrabooks, the reference points for the Surface RT and the Surface Pro, is at least that large. The emphasis on consumer marketing being referred to her, however, might underestimate the importance that many consumers will place on compatibility in their Tablets.
For the most part, Tablet PCs have come to be used as purely consumptive devices. They are idea for things like reading, casual game playing, watching streaming video, and other such tasks while being extremely difficult to produce things on. Apple’s iPad has the software to make many forms of content creation less difficult, but it is safe to say that anything possible on the iPad is going to be simpler on a desktop unless you choose to invest in expensive peripheral input devices to go with the tablet.
The Microsoft Surface tablet is being sold as a productivity tool. When it was revealed, one of the main emphases was the usefulness of the Touch Cover. By including a peripheral that allows the tablet to work more like a laptop at no extra cost, they have introduced the potential for Windows RT to move beyond consumption tasks. Other tablets we have seen released lately use similar options, like the Asus Transformer Book which has a detachable keyboard and touchpad.
It might be fair to ask what expectations will be raised as a result of this sort of practice. It’s great to say that Windows RT devices can potentially replace Netbooks. That’s wonderful. If they can’t work with most existing software, however, they the keyboard and mouse input options will largely be reduced to novelties for anybody who doesn’t regularly need office apps on their portable device.
The Windows 8 tablet, which the Schmook interview indicates will be priced from $600 to $700, offers the full range of Windows applications to choose from as well as everything that Windows RT has to offer. This means that customers will have to spend twice as much, but by doing so they get a lot more options.
The big determining factor will probably be app developers. If the right applications are designed for WinRT, which will work on either Windows RT or Windows 8, then this might all be idle speculation. It isn’t necessarily unreasonable for a WinRT app to be designed with the mouse and keyboard in mind even if it does seem like the idea might take a while to catch on amidst the initial rush to present touch-based options. The interest is likely to be there for anybody who does things well, if nothing else.