Windows RT faces the axe, Microsoft exec suggests

Microsoft's Julie Larson-Green says Microsoft will reduce the number of Windows variants, with RT looking most vulnerable

Barry Collins
25 Nov 2013

Microsoft says it will reduce its range of consumer operating systems, with Windows RT almost certainly facing the chop.

In a wide-ranging discussion at the UBS Global Technology Conference, devices chief Julie Larson-Green - who was until recently in charge of the Windows division - indicated that Microsoft has too many operating systems on the client side. And, unless the company is hatching dramatic plans to axe Windows or Windows Phone, it seems the little loved ARM version of Windows is the one being prepared for the guillotine.

"We have the Windows Phone OS, we have Windows RT and we have full Windows," Larson-Green told the conference. "We're not going to have three."

Larson-Green said Microsoft had made mistakes with the positioning and marketing of Windows RT, echoing previous Microsoft statements that the OS had confused consumers.

"The goal was to deliver two kinds of experiences into the market: the full power of your Windows PC, and the simplicity of a tablet experience that can also be productive," said Larson-Green.

"I think we didn't explain that super-well. I think we didn't differentiate the devices well enough. They looked similar. Using them is similar. It [Windows RT] just didn't do everything that you expected Windows to do. So there's been a lot of talk about it should have been a rebranding. We should not have called it Windows. How should we have made it more differentiated? I think over time you'll see us continue to differentiate it more."

There has been much speculation that Microsoft is driving towards a future where a single version of Windows covers the whole gamut of devices, from smartphones to desktop PC.

However, Larson-Green made it plain that the company still thinks there's a place for mobile-oriented OSes.

"We do think there's a world where there is a more mobile operating system that doesn't have the risks to battery life, or the risks to security," she said. "But, it also comes at the cost of flexibility. So we believe in that vision and that direction and we're continuing down that path."

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