Another Windows Partner Bashes Microsoft's Confusing Strategy

There's been a recurring theme among hardware OEMs over the past six months regarding both of Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) new Windows platforms. The broad consensus among the software giant's most important partners is that Windows 8 and Windows RT are just too confusing for the average consumer.

In December, Dell (UNKNOWN: DELL.DL  ) PC exec Jeffrey Clarke said he made the case directly to Steve Ballmer that Windows RT would do nothing but confuse people, since the Windows brand is associated with backwards compatibility with legacy apps. Dell sells tablets running each version, such as its XPS 10 (Windows RT) and Latitude 10 (Windows 8).

A month later, Acer CEO JT Wang similarly said that Windows 8 confuses consumers, and that Microsoft's big push with Surface is just making things worse. Wang said that "there's no question" that the platform is off to a "slow start." Samsung was next up, saying it wouldn't launch Windows RT devices in the U.S. because it would need to take on a lot of educational efforts to prevent confusion.

Dell and Acer are the No. 3 and No. 4 PC vendors in the world by volume, respectively, so they should know how sales are going. Let's add in another PC vendor that thinks Microsoft is going about this all wrong.

Toshiba is the latest OEM to call Microsoft's strategy confusing. Australian exec Mark Whittard derided the software giant for offering too many different choices that have led to "a lot of confusion with Windows 8," according to The Australian. The comments are curious since Whittard was speaking at a product launch, which included over two dozen models of Ultrabooks, tablets, and convertibles.

Whittard also said the pricing wasn't clear. Most previous-generation laptops were selling for $399 to $599, but the newest Windows 8 gadgets start between $699 and $799 -- making it an even tougher sell.

For what it's worth, Microsoft is taking notes. At the Wired Business Conference, Windows exec Julie Larson-Green conceded that Windows RT's biggest problem has been education. Consumers and OEMs alike have spoken, now Microsoft needs to either ramp up the education or kill Windows RT for good once Intel's Haswell chips render it even more unnecessary.

Microsoft should probably do the latter.

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Comments from our Foolish Readers

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  • Report this Comment On May 08, 2013, at 9:52 PM, marv08 wrote:

    MS's promise was "no compromise" and the same experience on all screens.

    They delivered the mother of all compromises, 4 completely different Operating Systems (desktop, ARM tablets, smartphones, XBox), all working differently, all supporting different apps and all not even code compatible, thus requiring different coding tools and programming languages for each of them.

    Apple and Google kept MS's promises with less different OSs, almost unified development, and devices that actually work and sell.

    RT has to go away (it never made any sense), Windows 8 needs to be improved a lot and they should make an ARM tablet compatible (scaled) Windows Phone version for dedicated tablets. That's what they should have done in the first place.

  • Report this Comment On May 08, 2013, at 10:44 PM, techy46 wrote:

    Instead of listening to the losers in the PC market why not listen to Lenovo who seems to have nothing but praise for Windows 8. Lenovo's Yoga, U and Z models are doing well and they even have a smart phone, the K900, with Intel Atom Inside.

  • Report this Comment On May 08, 2013, at 10:46 PM, nunu4 wrote:

    motley fools,,, like lammars says, SSSSSSSSSSTOP IT O.O how about windows8 its still outselling apple pc lines?

  • Report this Comment On May 08, 2013, at 10:51 PM, JoeChan213 wrote:

    RT was an attempt to get a desktop OS out there that runs off ARM. If ARM wins the ARM vs x86 war 5 years from now, they'd now have one foot through that door. Meanwhile Apple has totally ignored x86 on tablets, which if Haswell and Skylake take off, will end up hurting them.

    And I don't know why you'd want WP8 on a tablet when RT is available. MS's strategy isn't to be like Apple. Apple wants a tablet to be a large phone that runs the same cheap apps you'd find on your phone. MS wants a tablet to be a smaller computer that runs the same premium software found on a desktop.

  • Report this Comment On May 08, 2013, at 11:47 PM, uncoveror wrote:

    If you actually have a touch screen, Windows 8 might be a cute little play toy, but is completely useless for trying to get any work done. It is the worst thing ever to happen to computing. How is Steve Ballmer still employed?

  • Report this Comment On May 09, 2013, at 12:54 AM, Commonsense1m wrote:

    If the manufacturers are confused then the end consumers are even more confused.

    Most people will skip Windows 8.

    Their smartphones and tablets will most likely won't be doing well as well in the foreseeable future.

    If they don't wise up, more people is going to go for Mac or maybe Chrome as it gets more matured.

  • Report this Comment On May 09, 2013, at 1:18 AM, Abbasi79 wrote:

    I would love to work in the MS marketing dept because apparantly you can F-up all the time and still rake in the money.

    This whole mess could have been easily avoided if they had simply named WindowsRT as Windows Tablet (Similar to windows phone) no chance of confusing the consumer there.

  • Report this Comment On May 09, 2013, at 1:29 AM, kmaya8000 wrote:

    MICROSOFT should ABANDON DorNet Framework which is clumsy

  • Report this Comment On May 09, 2013, at 2:18 AM, crash3085 wrote:

    If these companies would come up with Windows 8 tablets that were worth anything, they might actually see some sales. The Dell offerings, in particular, are absolutely worthless and pathetic. Lenovo seems to be doing pretty well with Their new systems, though I wish they would have released a full Windows 8 tablet similar to the MS Surface Pro. Oh well, I just ordered a Yoga and hopefully that will keep me happy for awhile. And believe me, I'm well aware of the fact that there are some issues with Windows 8 and that RT is a disaster. I'm just tired of these PC manufacturers blaming Microsoft for ALL their problems.

  • Report this Comment On May 09, 2013, at 2:24 AM, NoWindows8LockIn wrote:

    I find it comical that Julie Larson-Green keeps pushing the "learning curve" fertilizer. Ok, ok, she's right. There is a learning curve, and Microsoft is the one who is afflicted with. It is taking them too long to see that we are not so stupid that we clearly see what they were trying to do by locking us into Metro and creating a app ecosystem where they get 20-30% of each Metro app sold.

    Look, you dummies, the cat is out of the bag. OUR EYES ARE WIDE OPEN. Don't you get it? Your stunt failed miserably.

    Try something else. This is getting ridiculously tiresome.

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