Surface RT branding was a mess, Microsoft brass confesses


Consumers couldn't understand how Microsoft's Surface RT tablet, pictured here, was different from the Surface Pro.

A year after Microsoft shipped Windows 8 and its lightweight younger brother, Windows RT, very few people still know exactly what RT is: Can it run desktop apps? Can you buy it in a retail store and install it on your old laptop? Does it look like Windows?

Geeks might know the answers (no, no, and yes) but mainstream consumers never seemed to catch on. And finally, Microsoft is ready to confess that it dropped the ball on branding RT.

In an interview with the Australian tech magazine ARN, Surface product manager Jack Cowett admits the messaging around the Surface RT – the first hardware to run Windows RT – simply didn’t work.

“We think that there was some confusion in the market last year on the difference between Surface RT and Surface Pro,” Cowett told ARN. To address the issue, Microsoft dropped the “RT” in the next-gen Surface products, which are simply called the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2. “We want to help make it easier for people, and these are two different products designed for two different people.”

Of course, that revelation might be coming  a bit late for Microsoft, which had to slash the price of Surface RT tablets by 30 percent to move them off shelves, and still ended up taking a $900 million loss for unsold tablets. Some vendors like Acer even publicly trashed Microsoft’s OS after watching their own hardware fail.

It’s no surprise then, that some critics are already dismissing Windows RT as dead. While we found many things to like about the Surface 2 in our hands-on time with it, Windows RT wasn’t one of them. If consumers still agree when it arrives on October 22, this year’s unsold stock may end up as museum pieces.

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