Wondering whether to buy a Windows RT tablet? The status of RT at retail may be a good guide.
As of Wednesday evening, the Microsoft store listed no Windows RT tablets aside from Microsoft's own Surface RT. Tablets like the Asus VivoTab RT are no longer listed (though the Intel-based VivoTab is on the site). Even Dell's XPS 10 -- reduced this week to $299.99 -- is absent.
On the other hand, the store lists more than a dozen Windows 8 tablets based on either Intel Core processors or Intel's Atom chip.
On Tuesday, Microsoft Chief Marketing Officer Tami Reller, speaking at a technology conference, said RT is not going away. And Microsoft provided a statement to CNET about the dearth of systems on its online store.
"Microsoft stores carry a curated product assortment...We regularly update our store offerings, based on customer feedback and product availability," said Jonathan Adashek, Microsoft's general manager of Communications Strategy
But that doesn't quell doubts about the long-term viability of an operating system that isn't compatible with millions of x86 Windows applications -- as Windows 8 is.
Hewlett-Packard has never offered an RT tablet, Dell has been reduced to heavy discounting, and Asus' VivoTab RT now goes for around $350 on Amazon, down from $599.
RT does have an upside. At $499, the Surface RT, for example, is decidedly less expensive than Surface Pro and comes with Microsoft Office Home and Student 2013 RT. It is also thinner, lighter, and boasts much better battery life than the Pro, making it competitive with Apple and Android tablets.
And PC vendors like Acer may bring out new tablet and hybrids based on Windows RT 8.1. As will Microsoft, of course.
But will RT gain momentum down the road? That's always possible but a snapshot of the market today doesn't provide a lot of hope for a vibrant RT ecosystem. And upcoming Windows 8 tablets based on Intel's Haswell and Bay Trail processors may offer many of the benefits of RT cited above with, of course, full compatibility with older Windows applications.