The fire sale has begun for Windows RT tablets

The Dell XPS 10 tablet. Dell recently cut prices on the Windows RT versions. Credit: Dell via Flickr

Prices of Windows RT devices have started falling, signaling an attempt by PC makers to clear out stock quickly after poor adoption of tablets and convertibles with the operating system.

Microsoft released Windows RT for ARM-based devices and Windows 8 for Intel-based devices in October last year. The price drop is an acknowledgement that Windows RT has failed, analysts said.

The starting price for Dell's XPS 10 is now US$449 for a 32GB model, scalping $50 off the original launch price. The 64GB model is $499 -- $100 off the original price.

By comparison, the price of the Dell Latitude 10 tablet with Intel processors and Microsoft's Windows 8 has remained stable at $499.

Asus' VivoTab RT, which is largely sold through retailers, is being offered by Amazon.com for $382 with 32GB of storage. That's a heavy discount from the $599 launch price. Retailers like Best Buy, Staples and Office Depot have also dropped the price of the tablet by $50.

Newegg is listing VivoTab RT as having been discontinued. Asus did not respond to a request to comment on whether the company was still offering the tablet.

Lenovo is offering the IdeaPad Yoga 11 for $599 as part of a seven-day deal, which is a huge drop from the original $799 price. TigerDirect is offering an IdeaPad Yoga 11 model for $599 on its website, while Amazon is selling a model for $499.99.

Samsung did not ship its Windows RT tablet, Ativ Tab, to the U.S. market.

Though Microsoft has not publicly acknowledged the failure of Windows RT, there is already growing concern about the fate of the OS. IDC earlier this month said that Windows RT tablet shipments have been poor, and that consumers have not bought into "Windows RT's value proposition."

PC and chip makers have acknowledged poor adoption of the operating system. Nvidia's CEO, Jen-Hsun Huang, last month said he was disappointed with the poor response to Windows RT, and Acer executives have said that Microsoft needs to improve the usability of RT.

Prices usually drop if products are made in volume, or if there is poor demand, said Jack Gold, principal analyst at J. Gold Associates.

"I think you're seeing discounting based on user demand. I never thought RT was going to be that successful," Gold said.

Windows RT was doomed right from the start, and devices with the OS had no chance to compete with the more established Apple iPad and Android tablets, Gold said.

A price drop may be an attempt to stimulate demand, said David Daoud, research director at IDC.

"A lot of it is pre-positioning for the summer season," Daoud said. "Do price reductions stimulate demand? Sure they, do, in the right time."

A price drop could help clear out inventory ahead of the back-to-school season, when new devices typically ship, Daoud said. Companies also want to get rid of excess inventory as it can be costly to hold products for long.

The analysts acknowledged that Microsoft did little to spread awareness about Windows RT. People could not understand the purpose of the OS as it was incompatible with existing Windows applications, and it wasn't a complete operating system like Windows 8.

"RT will fade away over time," Gold said. "It's not a full Windows 8 experience. That said, why wouldn't I spend more and get a full Pro version of the device?"

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

This story, "The fire sale has begun for Windows RT tablets" was originally published by IDG News Service .

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