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Windows RT not making it to BYOD party

Microsoft takes a $900 million inventory adjustment on the ARM-based tablets

By , Network World
July 19, 2013 12:06 PM ET

Network World - IT pros can stop worrying about whether and how to support Windows RT tablets should any come through the door as part of BYOD programs; it’s likely not to become an issue.

Microsoft has taken a $900 million hit on its balance sheet for Windows RT “inventory adjustments”, which could include Microsoft’s cutting the price of its Surface RT tablets by $150 during an ongoing sale.

BACKGROUND: Microsoft stumbles in Q4, takes $900M Surface RT charge 

IN PICTURES: Microsoft Surface guest stars on TV’s “Suburgatory” – honest 

Windows RT has drawbacks for business in that it doesn’t run traditional x86 Windows applications and can’t join a domain. It is the version of Windows 8 that comes bundled with ARM-based hardware to offer longer battery life than full x86-based Windows 8 machines.

So businesses might have been reluctant from the get-go to offer support for the devices, but now it seems that their popularity is poor enough that they might never crop up in large enough numbers to warrant the attention of IT departments.

A recent sale on Surface RTs – the Microsoft-built version of Windows RT - cuts the price from $499 to $349, not including the keyboard, which costs an additional $119 or $129, depending on which one you buy.

The company just released a video this morning comparing its Surface RT to the iPad in which the RT comes out ahead because it has a built-in stand to prop it up, a USB port and a snap-on keyboard. And it costs less, although the price differential posted in large print is a bit misleading. It puts the $349 in big type and the keyboard-not-included notice in the fine print. It also says the price is based on the price July 11, which is during a week-long sale.

The company has also deeply discounted the tablets for schools and offered them up for even greater discounts to attendees of at user and partner conferences.

While things don’t look good from some angles, Microsoft nevertheless continues to lavish advertising money into pushing Surface RT. The company runs TV ads promoting them and even co-sponsors the popular new CBS series Under the Dome, in which Surface RTs occasionally pop up being used by characters in the episodes. Earlier, Microsoft even had the device written in as a character (yes, really)  in the series Suburgatory.

The possible saving grace for the platform is that Microsoft partners may choose to create less and less expensive hardware-software bundles around it creating an affordable option for the curious.

One upside for businesses that do encounter Windows RT in a work setting is that the devices include a version of Microsoft Office as part of the standard software load. Windows RT 8.1 will include Outlook as well, a new addition in response to complaints about the mail client that came with the original version.

Microsoft has also added features that enable connecting to corporate networks securely via a portal and wiping corporate data from the devices when they disconnect.

Tim Greene covers Microsoft and unified communications for Network World and writes the Mostly Microsoft blog. Reach him at tgreene@nww.com and follow him on Twitter@Tim_Greene.

Read more about wireless & mobile in Network World's Wireless & Mobile section.

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