Windows RT is circling the drain

It's hard to be optimistic about the platform's future when you look at the Windows RT tablets on offer and on the immediate horizon

Over the past several days, Windows CFO and CMO Tami Reller has taken on the press in a dozen interviews, hashing and rehashing the "Windows 8 is 90 days old" theme. Most of what's been reported  is barely reheated pablum, but one of Reller's statements brings a whole new light to the potential longevity of Windows RT.

Dina Bass at Bloomberg states that Reller told her, "New devices that run on Windows RT ... won't be released this spring."

Assuming Reller was quoted correctly -- as best I can tell, she didn't make the same statement in any of her other interviews -- that admission, combined with other plans we already know, have me seriously wondering if Windows RT will ever make it past version 1.0.

Five manufacturers have released Windows RT machines: Asus, Dell, Lenovo, Samsung, and of course Microsoft. If Reller says there won't be any new devices coming out this spring, that means we're stuck with the five existing Windows RT machines until summer. That's quite a comeuppance for folks who thought the floodgates of new Windows RT machines would open right about now.

Take a look at what's on offer.

Asus's VivoTab RT -- an RT retrofit of a distinctly Transformer chasis -- has dropped off the radar screens, by and large. It fell from a $599 list price to $399, at least on Amazon. I can't find it on the Best Buy site or on NewEgg. Even the Microsoft Store says, "This product is currently unavailable."

Dell's XPS 10 Windows RT has fared a little better, although it wasn't widely available until a few weeks ago. At $499, it's as pricey as a Surface RT. Dell, of course, is widely believed to be in the process of going private, as Ted Samson explains in "Good-bye PC maker Dell and hello cloud company Dell." Will Dell's new owners -- reportedly including Microsoft -- continue to push the XPS 10 with Windows RT?

Lenovo's IdeaPad Yoga 11 RT has fallen from $650 to $600, but even at that price it's 20 percent more expensive than the competition, and reviewers have not been kind. The just-announced Yoga 11S -- which is quite similar but runs Windows 8 instead of RT -- seems to be the future of the line.

A month ago, Samsung announced that the Ativ Tab won't be released in the United States. Kerplop.

On the Microsoft side, Surface RT sales figures are both elusive and hotly debated.

Out of five RT tablets, I count one that's down, one that's out, one from a company that's hoping the Win8 clone will sell better, and one from a company scrambling to re-invent itself. And Microsoft, of course. If Bloomberg is right, that's the whole RT shooting match until summer.

If you know anyone who bought a Surface RT at the Microsoft Store, make sure they understand that they have 30 days to return it.

Or you could go for the long view. Remember that an original Apple I is now worth, oh, $375,000. 

This story, "Windows RT is circling the drain," was originally published at Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow on Twitter.

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