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Goodbye, Windows RT as Microsoft halts production of the Surface 2

The Surface Pro 3 is arguably doing well. In fact, Microsoft posted $1.1 billion in revenue from their Surface line, which is a 24% increase over the previous quarter. Although that number by comparison is not staggering, it does demonstrate that the Surface, as a product line, has some interest.

Windows RT and the Surface 2, though, are not fairing so well. Microsoft today confirmed with Business Insider that the laptop-esque device is no longer being manufactured, although you can still pick one up from Microsoft Stores and retailers while supplies last.

Murmurings of such a cancellation started back in October when ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley reported that Microsoft was finished with ARM-based Surface tablets.

Surface 2

The news follows last week's presentation by Microsoft on Windows 10 and the future of that OS. Although the operating system was briefly discussed for phone, when it came to RT devices it had to wait until the press Q&A. During that time, Microsoft did confirm that current RT devices would see some type of update, but not necessarily Windows 10.

In other words, this sounds like 'Windows Phone 7.8' all over.

Surface RT

Never took off

Windows RT has had nothing but a rocky start since it launched. Announced with the first Surface Series – Surface Pro and Surface RT – the hybrid device created confusion amongst consumers, and the branding was always poor. The problem arises from the OS looking like Windows 8, including the Desktop, but being unable to run proper x86 or x64 applications like a "real" PC.

Although it was cheaper compared to Windows 8 PCs, soon after Microsoft released 'Windows 8.1 with Bing' for OEMs, and prices fell through the floor. By making "real" Windows cheaper, Microsoft essentially cannibalized their Windows RT message.

Fast forward to late 2014, and HP was selling an admirable 11-inch laptop for less than $200 with the HP Stream 11. By comparison, the Surface 2 started at $449 but goes up to over $600 with 64 GB of storage and AT&T LTE. Granted, the Surface 2 is a better-built machine – and one of my personal favorites – but it never quite resonated with consumers.

Lumia 2520

Once OEMs like Asus and Dell began pulling support for Windows RT, including HTC, who cancelled theirs even before launching, the Windows RT market was very lonely. Only Nokia's Lumia 2520 tablet came to market recently, and although it was admirable, it still was an odd duckling. Microsoft cancelled the Surface Mini and even Nokia's plans for an 8-inch tablet reportedly fizzled.

Windows 10

One Message, One OS

Although Windows RT and the Surface 2 had its fans, finally putting them out to pasture is the right thing to do. Microsoft's message of "one OS" is undercut by the Windows RT framework and has held back adoption.

Starting with Windows 10, devices with 8-inch displays and larger will see full Windows with the traditional Desktop. Those devices with smaller displays, including phones, phablets and tiny tablets, will not (although current Intel Atom based devices can all upgrade to full Windows 10).

It is a shame to see another Microsoft product line fade away as a failed experiment, but Microsoft appears to be setting the right course for success with Windows 10. With a clean slate and a less confusing message, Microsoft still can right this ship.

Source: Business Insider

Daniel Rubino
Executive Editor

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

392 Comments
  • No one saw it coming.
  • I saw it
  • But seriously though... Windows RT CAN survive and even be well received! https://windows.uservoice.com/forums/265757-windows-feature-suggestions/... This could be essential for the "Surface phone", that could serve as a full PC while docked to an external monitor, KB and mouse, so that battery life while idling isn't an issue.
  • Still trying to figure out where the idea that RT got significantly better battery life than x86 Windows came from :/ the only difference was an ARM cpu vs ivy bridge/haswell, and Broadwell Core-M and Atom have both closed that avenue of "advantage" for Windows. The only advantage of RT really is a Chrome-OS like protection from viruses, but that's not nearly enough of an advantage to warrant any kind of real support.
  • iirc one of the point of RT was to force Intel's hand to make energy competitive products
  • txDrum: Are you telling me that RT gives users the same battery life as full Windows? I hope you aren't being serious... Are you sure that if you held two Intel based PCs with identical hardware, one with full Windows and one with RT, they would have comparable battery life?? EDIT: Also, why do I have two downvotes in my previous comment? :D WTH?
  • I just want to say thanks to you, anonymous upvoters <3 :) people usually take this stuff for granted...
  • I'd hardly state 'Chrome-os' seeing as the Acorn Electron, all those years ago, was virus proof
  • I can't believe they were still making it.. That's the big surprise... Really❗
  • Oh, and forgot to add,,,, SMDH.
  • Please write full words. Your typing is irritating.
  • FU.. Is that better❓
    .........
    If not then maybe you should learn to ignore users who make irritating comments... Regardless, don't bother me with your emotional female BS..... I'm not here to cater to your D-A$$...... SMDHID.
  • Wow....you had my vote with the FU until I read more of your comments and saw how truly rude and immature you are. No need for it. Posted via Surface Pro 3 or Note 3
  • I can't believe you're still talking
  • Can't believe, your moms still sending you breast milk in the mail.
  • Yes but it's milk from your mom's breasts. What little dribbles are left after your weaning.
  • Hope you like cheese in a can...
  • DMC missed the sarcasm...
  • Or did you miss his sarcasm❓❓❓ lol.
  • This is really bad decision .. If MS can't give upgrade to Windows10 then who can give, then why they released product, then why they are selling still. We can raise our voice here... https://windows.uservoice.com/forums/265757-windows-feature-suggestions/suggestions/7012012-build-an-upgrade-for-windows-rt Who got SurfaceRT/2 those are truly real believers and followers of MS, coz they went against to market and bought those products.
     
  • Doesn't matter really. I build all my applications in Silverlight
  • *claps*
  • You mean Silverlight which never actually ran on Surface RT line?
  • It does but also runs on all other Windows devices.
  • WinRT is still alive and well and will be the primary dev platform for Windows 10. Windows RT on the other hand is being discontinued.
  • Of course, it isn't what I was referring to.
  • Then how is it relevant? If anything building apps in Silverlight is going to be deprecated, but how is that related to the Surface RT line?
  • Because its the opposite or Runtime applications in which I dont build in whereas RT apps run better on Surface RT or other RT based windows devices.
  • Well technically RT apps run just the same on x86/x64 as they do on RT devices, there's no difference. Windows RT just refers to the fact that it *only* runs RT apps. Unfortunately Silverlight apps have an uncertain future on Windows 10; time will tell if they continue to run or be available as a build platform in the phone version of W10.
  • Well if they didcontinue it, they better make a simple option to convert over to Runtime. Silverlight honestly makes me mad sometimes because it can do certain things like change default font family or use the NavigateUri function for the HyperlinkButton. Kinda lame...
  • Awful product Surface RT. Best news ever. Now that I have a Dell Venue 8 Pro I'm about to put my Surface RT up for sale on Ebay.
  • How's it awful, I've had mine for a year and use it every day
  • Good for you mate, but my experience is it's SLOW and SLOW. It's SLOW to boot up.
    It's SLOW to shutdown.
    It's SLOW to update.
    its SLOW to surf the web. And compared to my DELL Venue 8 Pro it's SLOW.
    Just my experiences.
  • Odd. My Surface RT (1) is fast and I use it everyday. I really like it but I do get that it confused a lot of people out there.
  • I guess we have different ideas of fast.
  • Sooooo, you're admitting to begin one of the suckers..... Lol.
  • Yeah, I think that initial confusion is largely to blame for poor Windows 8 adoption.. People just got confused & left both win 8 & RT
  • Ok, I love my Surface RT, but you have to admit that the thing is not fast. Webpages take forever to load and I can only open a few tabs at a time without making the browser freeze and sometimes crash.
  • Finally Someone with some morals. Thanks for admitting this.
  • The Dell is in the same generation as the Surface 2. And the Surface 2 is anything but slow.
  • The original RT sports a Tegra 3, same as was used in the original Nexus 7. That chipset is 'really old' in processor years. MS still supports the original RT which is still a decent machine for it's original purpose. Comparing it to far more powerful Intel atom tablets, the original RT stands no chance at all. Those atom tablets are seriously speedy machines!
  • it wasnt awful, just misunderstood. handled one myself for a month, it was a fine piece of hardware and software, it was just expectations and the full Windows tablets that soon appeared,
  • Sadly the choice with going with an ill powered processor is what most people saw I think they should've used snapdragon from the beginning
  • The NVIDIA tegras are very powerful in the arm world.
  • Tegra 3 was not the best choice at the time the original RT came out. Yes Tegra 4 and subsequent nvidia chips are very powerful ARM chips but the RT came late to the party with a weak chip.
  • Definitely not awful. Certainly not a gaming rig, but I've never had any issues at all. It's relatively fast and streams videos like a champ. Perfect for propping up against a treadmill and watching Netflix while I run.
  • What do you mean awful? i have had mine since the beginning and use it everyday and still love it. Your very free with words. One mans meat is another mans poison.
  • I respectfully disagree. As an alternative to competing offering in other ecosystems I loved mine. Of course, I later bought a Surface 3 Pro which was even more awesome. Still, terrible marketing/strategy notwithstanding, it was a fun productive lil tablet. As for the article, I'm surprised they didn't stop manufacturing them months and months ago. Basically with introduction of Surface 3 in order to deplete stock and focus on its successor.
  • I love my Surface RT and the Surface 2 made it even better. I use it daily. The original RT is a little slow now, but sstill very functional. The Surface2 is great.
  • Surface RT passed on in family and still great for videos, music, surfing the web etc. And has free Office 2013. Really solid quality too. I bought the Surface 2 LTE and Surface Pro 3, both brilliant, top quality devices. Long live RT.
  • Just sold my Surface RT for $100 cash to a co-worker.
    Winning!
  • Good idea! Sure you'll get a lot for a now discontinued device!
  • Surface RT was indeed a bit slow, but the Surface 2 was a fantastic device. Still using and loving it.
  • Dat sarcasm.
  • I'll buy one for $50 take it or fuck it.
  • Yeah...I saw this one coming. RT was very efficient...but a waste of time. Unifying and focusing on one OS across multiple devices just makes sense.
  • Windows rt kind of lives on in the form of tablet mode for devices with screen sizes smaller than 8"
  • The writing was on the wall for a very long time, I did mention in the forums long time back that RT would go Windows 7.8 way.
  • The sarcasm is strong with this one :)
  • Ough...
  • I hope they make a board like Surface 2 bit with the new Intel atom CPUs. Some great cameras would be cool too.
  • a surface 3 (non-pro) running on an atom sounds interesting
  • I'd prefer an AMD powered Surface.
  • So you can use it as a heater during cold nights?
  • If it ran their arm chip I doubt it would be as bad
  • Lol!
  • Not me, my Desktop is AMD and some Windows app won't even download much less play.
    Every Desktop and Tablet from now on is gonna be running Intel Chips.
  • Must be your OS or drivers have issues. I.e. it's not the CPU. My AMD desktop has zero issues with any software.
  • I'm fairly sure its not because of the AMD processor. I've built a ton of rigs both AMD and Intel and I've never seen nor heard of this problem.
  • +1. Despite the heat concerns, I definitely wouldn't mind a spec'd-down version of the Surface Pro 3 if it means cost savings.
  • Since Beema is as fast as i3U and Kaveri is as fast as i5/i7U, with better iGPUs, I'd love AMD to make a Surface. It would also have the same battery life and heat dissipation, since it's in the same TPD range.   And since it would be AMD, yeah, the Surface would probably be a bit cheaper.
  • I still really like mine. I feel like if MS would have had a better strategy, including no desktop and a better name, it could've been something.
  • I agree with you but the name surface is really good in my opinión
  • I meant just the RT part
  • i agree. I had the Surface RT and 2 and really enjoyed usung them. They did more or less everyting i needed a tablet and laptop for at home and for the advridge Joe user it was a perfect device. I now have a pro 3 and im even more impressed by the product but its sad to see RT go as it was a good mobile OS. It will be intresting to see what the OEM's come up with now RT is being dropped.
  • They'll do more Android.
  • How does a Surface RT tablet do more than a comparable Android tablet.
  • It has a desktop-class browser, which is fantastic, but it's lacking in apps.
  • When I bought mine, it ran full Office and Android didn't. Can't say that anymore thouigh. But I still love it because it does everything my Surface Pro 2 does, in tablet mode, and lasts for hours. Good for things like reading Neowin!
  • If you don't use a lot of apps(which I don't) it is far better than any android tablet i have used including a Nexus 9 The Surface RT was slow but with the right setting it was quicker than android and with the same settings on my Surface 2 it was way quicker than anything that android could do. For anyone with a RT just look at the Surface 2 thread for the right settings on your RT device. I have a Pro 3 now and can't see any need for another computer let alone another tablet.
  • RT's failure has everything to do with lack of apps, this far into Windows 8 and the available apps are pretty pathetic. Sure there are some good games and apps but it's worse than Windows Phone overall. Now with Windows 10 it would be perfect scenario for RT since they can finally dump the desktop and remove the supposed confusion. It's unfortunate, my Surface RT is a great device, I have an SP3 as well but my RT is my goto device which I use much more as a consumption device. I'll be keeping my eyes out for some reduced pricing for Surface RT or 2 and will pick up another for backup.
  • Love my Surface 2, just let down by Microsoft support. Lack of firmware updates, micro SD card takes a lot of power in connected standby. Lack of apps is the killer, the same as killer for windows phone. We will have to see what they do, but if we don't get Windows 10 mobile, I will be disappointed. Although if IE with flash is not included, I will need to stay on 8.1.
  • I'm surprised that of all the criticism Windows 8 gets, that apps isn't the main one. Hardly anyone wrote Metro Apps. That app store is really barren, which surprised me.
  • Excuse me?! RT has a full desktop browser with flash. Just use IE for Facebook, Instagram, flash games etc as on a normal PC, something which you cannot do on an iPad or Android tablet. That's like saying you'd prefer to run apps instead of using the browser on your desktop PC.
  • You can't use Instagram in a browser; similar to other recent mobile apps and services, it's limited to an app on a device.  When you go to instagram.com, the page prompts one to download the app for iOS or Android. I could see Facebook moving that way too.
  • Like WP, its all about the apps. If the Windows store takes off and gets a lot of new modern apps, they could bring back RT and it would probably be a huge hit.
  • I agree, I think that all Windows 10 needed was to be able to provide a good mouse and keyboard experience while still providing the win 8.1 experience for tablets (minus having to go into desktop to change some settings... that def needed fixing) However I think they went too far the other direction and are taking away the tablet experience those of us have become used to. And if that's what they insist on they need to think a little harder about the UI. Example: Settings flying in from the right edge made sense if you had to swipe in from the left edge to show them. However now that you have to click the top left hamburger, shouldn't the settings fly in from the top?
  • Daniel, right or wrong, your one statment does sum up this fiasco... "this sounds like 'Windows Phone 7.8' all over."
  • why? still using windows 7.8 which rocks. much better and more stable than 8/8.1
  • It's similar in the way that 7.8, like Surface 2, will not receive any more updates.
  • Lol, have you even used 8/8.1? I have an L800 and an L930 right here and the 800 is waaay slower, lacking in features and even buggy at times...
  • If you really like 7.8 I would recommend switching to IOS. Less laggy but lacks features. I would never switch back to 7.8 or 8.0. The fact that the Windows phone team introduced something useless (to most people) like kids corner before the basic ability to close apps without spamming the back button still pisses me off to no end. I've been asking for that feature ever since 7.5 came out, and it took them until 8.1 to implement that.
  • Wasn't kids corner launched after the little x to close apps which came in gdr3? Unless you mean the swipe down thing which was introduced alongside kids corner not after.
  • My bad, the x to close apps was 8.0 gdr3, but I think kids corner was there from the launch of 8.0. I remember Joe talking about it at a big event.
  • Ok you're right about kids corner. My mistake. Confusing it with apps corner.
  • Kids corner was launched with windows phone 8.0 the little x didn't come til WP 8 gdr3
  • That feature was available in 8.0 GDR3 dude.
  • If Surface RT and Surface 2 came with Snapdragon SoC and not the Tegra SoC, then these would probably get Windows 10 for mobile.
  • Yup, and I'm now going to expect to see the "WP" treated similarly in the next few years.
  • What "next few years". Before the end of this year, "WP" will be gone. There will only be Windows 10 for different devices.
  • More dissatisfied customers for Microsoft!
  • Still had a longer life than my original iPad
  • As a Surface RT and Surface 2 owner, I am extremely satisfied.
  • This does not make your RT suddenly stop working does it??
  • And all of us who bought a Surface RT tablet are burned yet once again. It is getting to be a repeating pattern.
  • Please, which other tablet device is still getting updates 3 years after release? People should stop whining, expecting their tech to live forever just because its made by Microsoft.
  • iPad obviously
  • Completely and totally untrue.
  • iPad 2: 2011 Most recent patch: 8.1.3 (releasd today)
  • RT will also continue getting patches for a long time as well. Its just not going to continue getting all of the latest features.
  • My point was more about a tablet getting updates after 3 years.
  • Not really, Microsoft said early on that the original Surface RT will be supported for 4 years or April 2017.
    http://www.computerworld.com/article/2493401/tablets/microsoft-promises-...
  • Not really. You will get an OS update with some of Windows 10 elements, you can still run Store apps. I am not sure how you are getting "burned" per se? I'm not aware of anything in