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Nokia is Microsoft’s best chance to save Windows RT
With practically every other OEM fleeing from Windows RT, Nokia is Microsoft’s best bet at saving the operating system.
The Verge reports today that Nokia plans to launch a 10.1 inch Windows RT tablet soon, unveiling it at an event in late September. That would make Nokia one of the few vendors to back Windows RT. Samsung opted out after a release in Europe, Acer recently said it had decided against making Windows RT devices, HP declined to build on the OS early on and Lenovo recently stopped selling its Windows RT version of its Yoga convertible. That leaves Dell and Microsoft itself as the few remaining companies making Windows RT tablets.
To attract buyers, Nokia will have to solve a few problems that plague Microsoft’s Surface RT. I’m among some (although not all) Surface RT users who find the tablets annoyingly slow. Nokia’s choice of processor – the Verge reports it will run Qualcomm’s quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor – could offer a better, more consistent user experience.
The Verge also reports that Nokia is working on a set of accessories, including a keyboard that contains a battery for extended life. If the keyboard works better than the flat keyboard that Microsoft sells with the Surface RT, users might be more likely to use the tablet frequently. The extra battery life would be a nice bonus too.
The Nokia tablet would probably ship with Windows 8.1. That software update could also improve the speed to start up the tablets and launch apps, over the Surface RT.
To offer a successful Windows RT tablet, Nokia will also have to master marketing. Windows RT still doesn’t have a clear story. It’s cheaper than a Windows 8 machine and so some users may figure it’s geared toward consumers. But it comes with most Office apps and with Windows 8.1 it gets Outlook too – these are often viewed as business apps. Nokia will need to give customers a simple reason to buy its Windows RT tablet, something Microsoft has failed to do so far.
It’s a gamble for Nokia to make an RT tablet, given that most other OEMs have clearly found that there’s not much demand for the products. But there’s potential. Its Windows Phones have great hardware and design that showcase the software nicely. If Nokia is able to extend its close relationship with Microsoft in phones to tablets, it has a good shot at delivering a similarly nice tablet. The Nokia tablet could give Windows RT enough of a boost to stay alive while Microsoft tweaks it to become something truly useful.
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