Rough Start for Microsoft Windows RT?
Looks like Microsoft’s (Nasdaq: MSFT) Windows RT, or Windows for ARM processors, is off to a rocky start. In just the last few days, Hewlett-Packard (HP) (NYSE: HPQ) said it won’t build tablets founded on Windows RT and will stay with x86-based chips for its first Windows 8 tablet, slated to debut later this year.
Somewhat in sequence, Microsoft confirmed that Steven Guggenheimer, OEM unit corporate vice president in charge of relationships with PC makers (such us HP) for the past four years, is leaving his position for a new, as-yet unspecified spot in the company. Nick Parker, OEM sales vice president, will take Guggenheimer’s place.
Guggenheimer’s departure comes a scant two weeks after Microsoft said it will sell its own Surface tablet in competition with its OEM customers, developments Microsoft called “unrelated” and consistent with the company’s long-term planning, notwithstanding the neon-sign, obviously questionable timing.
As for HP, while it would be somewhat generous to describe the vendor’s tablet performance as erratic to this point, its heft in PC sales is undeniable, making its decision to shun RT somewhat of an eyebrow-raiser, even given the head-to-head with Surface.
An HP spokesperson told Bloomberg News that the vendor already had made its decision to withdraw from RT before Microsoft announced its plans for Surface, contending that its business clients will be better suited to the “established ecosystem” of the x86 architecture and its support of legacy applications.
While the obvious conclusion is that HP’s about-face from RT will influence others to consider bolting, it may be just as likely that it entices smaller players to jump in, perhaps not swelling the opportunity as HP could have but not stagnating it, either.
Whatever comes of this pushing and pulling, it seems apparent that Microsoft has bungled some of the earliest, relationship-building steps for RT — according to some reports, a few OEMs only learned of the Surface launch a few days before the event while others never got the word until the lights went on. There are a number of credible reports out there that Microsoft has so alienated its RT OEMs that many aren’t merely thinking about jumping ship but are intent on doing so.
In the long run, though, it may not matter who did what to whom if Microsoft can’t sufficiently dent a market thoroughly dominated by Apple’s ARM-based iPad. A strong push out of the gate certainly would help.