Windows RT License Fees Could Keep it Off Budget Tablets

It's widely rumored that Microsoft is launching a tablet tomorrow, with some bloggers going so far as to say it will upset the tablet market. But if the early reports coming out of Taiwan are true then I just don't see how it could happen.

Theo Valich reports on VR-Zone.com that  Taiwanese tablet makers are already suffering sticker shock. Theo claims to have spoken to several manufacturers, and they all report similar tales. Microsoft wants between $80 and $90 for a Windows RT license. That's right in with the price you'd expect to pay to install Windows on a PC, but it's not at all what these manufacturers are used to paying to load Android.

Okay, Android is open source so it's not a fair comparison, but even with the development costs Android is still a much cheaper option. It's so cheap that I have multiple sub-$100 Android tablets on my desk, something that's just not going to be possible to do with Windows RT. And that means there's likely going to be a huge market segment where you won't find Windows.

Do you remember how Microsoft wanted t0 have Windows running on an ereader? Yeah, that's out of the question now. Not very many people will pay an extra $90 to get a Windows based ereader, and I think it's even less likely that manufacturers will even try to develop one.  Hell, you can get a Kindle for less than the cost of a Windows RT license, and that even includes the expensive E-ink screen.

So it looks like Windows will only be showing up on the premium tablets, but even there it's going to be at a disadvantage. VR-Zone is reporting that the launch tablets will probably go for $549-799, with premium models selling for $799 and $899. That's great news for Android tablet makers, but it's not good news for the Windows tablet. Thanks to the iPad, there isn't much of a market anymore for a $600 tablet. That was a market which the iPad killed off, just like it sucked the life out of the $500 ereaders and the tablet/laptop hybrids.

Sure, there will be a lot of business buyers picking up WinRT tablets because it can run full Windows apps, but a lot of those buyers used to buy Windows tablets and now buy iPads. As a business tool it is one heck of a tablet. It makes an excellent compliment to a Windows laptop, and that right there is Microsoft's major weakness.

I'm betting that the Windows RT tablet will siphon off more of the laptop market than it will the tablet market. Yes, there's a lot of money in the business market, but there's so much money that those folks can afford to buy both a laptop and an iPad.  What's more, it seems to me if they switch over to a Windows RT tablet the laptop will go out the window along with the iPad.

This looks like it could be a zero sum game for Microsoft, or am I wrong?

About Nate Hoffelder (11577 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader:"I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

4 Comments on Windows RT License Fees Could Keep it Off Budget Tablets

  1. >>>Sure, there will be a lot of business buyers picking up WinRT tablets because it can run full Windows apps

    RT does not run full Windows apps. That’s the Reduced Technology version of Windows and will run only stuff built for ARM. Only the most expensive full Windows 8 tablets will also include the desktop and the ability to run legacy software.

    I don’t know yet if this price difference matters because this is Windows. People might be glad to pay a premium to get better and more apps than Android. We just don’t know yet how many people went with Android because Windows wasn’t available. My own sense is that WindowsRT and 8 could wipe out Android on premium tablets.

    • Uh, RT *will* run full Windows 8 apps.
      Win8 has two API sets; the legacy x86/Windows APIs from Win7 and earlier *and* an HTML5-based API set built around the METRO environment.
      *Those* Win8 apps will also run on WinRT.
      http://www.winsupersite.com/article/windows8/woa-windows-8-arm-revealed-142242

      Quote:
      “App compatibility. All Metro-style apps, including those that are bundled with the OS and those that the user downloads or purchases from the Windows Store, will run on both WOA and traditional Windows 8 devices. Without getting into the technical details, the short version is that developers only need to write their code once and Visual Studio 11 will compile it automatically for both platforms.”

      Among the included apps in at least *some* WinRT devices will be MS OFFICE 15:

      “Office 15 is included. Microsoft is including desktop versions of four Office “15” applications with WOA-based systems. These apps, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote, are desktop applications, not Metro-style apps, but they will be specially made to be a bit more usable on touch-based WOA systems and will be power management friendly.”

  2. I would be skeptical of that quoted number.
    RT is the successor to CE and CE never cost anywhere near that.
    Neither does WP7.

    Now, I have seen some reports that RT would ship in one *bundled* configuration with MS OFFICE. That *might* be what they are quoting. In which case, no, it wouldn’t be a bargain webpad but it would still make for an interesting value proposition.

  3. Microsoft wouldn’t consider replacing a laptop + iPad with a Windows RT (or Windows 8, more likely) tablet their ideal scenario, but I’m sure they’d consider it a net positive result.

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