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The obituaries for Windows RT devices have been coming steady and frequently over the last few months. The offshoot version of Windows, meant for low power tablet (ARM) processors, was supposed to give Microsoft a presence in the tablet market. Instead, it's sent their stock plummeting and partner companies into hiding.
Despite the near-certainty of impending firesales, we'll warn you now: don't purchase Windows RT devices for your law firm.
Windows RT and Its Limitations
Regular Windows, now in the also-maligned version 8.1, is based on "x86" code, the type that is compatible with desktop and laptop processors primarily manufactured by Intel and AMD. "ARM" processors, on the other hand, are typically cheaper, use less power, and are found most often in tablets and phones.
With Windows RT, Microsoft sought to join the tablet craze. Unfortunately, the operating system, which mimics Windows 8's odd semi-touch, semi-desktop identity crisis, has vastly limited utility (regular Windows applications aren't compatible, nor are developers lining up to bring new apps). Even Microsoft themselves have lagged on app support, with a business basic, Outlook, still awaiting release later this year, reports Ars Technica.
The Black Parade
Even before devices released, there were signs of trouble. Big time OEMs Hewlett Packard and Toshiba declined to release RT devices. Dell released a device, which has since seen a "temporary" price cut last over three months. Lenovo launched a device, then canceled it.
Nothing, however, compares to Microsoft's own Surface RT tablet disaster. Earlier this month, the company announced that it was taking a $900 million hit on unsold inventory, and that a price cut was in the works. Shares plummeted after the announcement, reports AllThingsD.
And then today, Asus, which has also been producing RT devices, announced that it too would pull back, as it found, shockingly enough, that users like having apps (especially traditional Windows apps) available.
But, Firesales Mean Cheap!
Exactly. But ask yourself how much a device, running a crippled version of Microsoft Office, still awaiting Outlook, with few other capabilities outside of web browsing, is worth? If the prices, which seem to be hovering around $300 now, drop to $100 or so -- sure, pick one up for on-the-go document edits or Web access.
Otherwise, there is another option for Windows lovers: the Atom devices. Remember netbooks? Those dear Atom-based, low-powered, ultra-cheap devices boomed in popularity before tablets, and now, the newest versions of their processors are making their way into regular Window 8 (the full version) tablets.
If you are in the market for a Windows device, despite the Atom's reputation for being underpowered, you can't beat the price (barely more than the "firesaled" RTs) and ability to run regular Windows apps.