Microsoft’s decision to start offering deeply discounted Surface RT tablets to schools this week has prompted some to ask whether the company is giving up on its Windows RT tablet. But a report from Bloomberg news suggests another possibility: Microsoft may be clearing out existing inventory to make way for a new, faster model.
Bloomberg reports that Microsoft plans to launch new Surface RT tablets with Qualcomm Snapdragon processors.
The news comes from anonymous sources that have “knowledge of the company’s plans,” which is usually a good reason to take a report like this with a grain of salt. But it’s been over half a year since Microsoft introduced its first Surface RT tablets, and I’d be surprised if the company wasn’t looking to upgrade or kill the product line.
The original Surface RT features a 10.6 inch, 1366 x 768 pixel display and an NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core processor. It runs Windows RT software which looks almost identical to Windows 8. But it can’t run desktop-style apps designed for earlier versions of Windows since most older apps were designed to run on devices with x86 chips, not ARM-based processors.
Qualcomm is one of the top producers of ARM-based chips for smartphones and tablets, and the company’s upcoming Snapdragon 800 chip is expected to be one of the most powerful ARM chips for mobile devices to launch this year.
While sales of Windows RT devices don’t appear to have been stellar so far, Microsoft has invested a lot of time and money in porting its software to run on ARM-based hardware. It’d be silly to scrap the project without a fight (although some companies have been known to take that approach).