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Posted on April 4th, 2013 by Nicole Kobie

Major retailers mis-selling Windows RT as Windows 8

There are only five Windows RT tablets or hybrids on store shelves and they’re not selling well, as one analyst has pointed out this week.

There’s many reasons devices such as the Asus VivoTab RT TF600T and Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11 haven’t challenged the iPad’s dominance — high prices, poor availability, failure to invest in marketing, dislike of Windows RT, incredibly silly names — but I can add one further excuse to the list: confusion among retailers.

The Samsung Ativ Tab RT, for example, is listed over on Argos’ website. It won’t be tough for PC Pro readers to name what’s wrong with this picture:


This particular device, despite the title on that page, doesn’t run Windows 8. It runs Windows RT. There’s no clarification in the specs listing. The only mention of operating systems on the page is in the Question and Answer tool, where customers have had to ask if it runs Windows RT or Windows 8; an Argos “Helper” promised to alter the page, but that was back in mid-February and the error remains.

The page is even more misleading, as it recommends Norton Mobile Security as an add-on, despite that product only working on Android and iOS.

Dell’s XPS 10 faces a similar fate. It’s described as a Windows 8 device, and only in the Questions and Answers function is the truth revealed — our thanks to Keith M, from Warwick, for setting Argos straight.


Tesco sells the Asus VivoTab (via a third-party called Cleverboxes), and manages to describe the OS as Microsoft Windows 8 RT, which is closer, but still wrong and misleading. It fails to clarify the OS issue despite taking the time to scream about the webcam and integrated graphics at the top of the page, and even lets us know that the name is “taken from the Latin verb ‘to live’.”


Few of the general retailers I’ve visited offer any explanation of the differences between Windows 8 and Windows RT to consumers. John Lewis is the exception that proves the rule, offering at least two lines of explanation: “Windows RT is a new version of Microsoft Windows that’s built to run on ARM-based tablets and PCs. It works exclusively with apps available in the Windows Store.”

More often than not, online retailers simply use copy supplied by the manufacturers — if you’ve ever paid close attention while shopping for a specific item across multiple retailers, you’ll have noticed there seems to be plenty of cutting and pasting going on. Take Asus. Here’s the copy it clearly supplied to Debenhams (which apparently sells tablets these days — who knew?):

“Asus VivoTab RT, Asus’ first Windows RT tablet that offers users the new Windows experience in a portable, yet powerful device. Featuring the award winning Transformer Pad design, the VivoTab brings the popular Windows platform to the tablet world that transforms to full notebook productivity when attached to the Mobile Dock.”  There’s no mention of Windows 8, but it hardly explains what RT is and isn’t, either.

There wasn’t really a very clear positioning of what Windows RT meant in the marketplace, what it stood for relative to Windows 8

PC World is little better. Its Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11 page says: “The new system allows you to customise the Start screen, build your important applications to your liking. You can swipe, pinch and touch your way though the new features and stunning interface. Built around applications the Windows RT operating system makes work and play easier, productive, social and completely reliable.”  You’d have thought PC World might at least mention that your existing Windows software won’t work with it.

Samsung has complained that Microsoft hasn’t done enough to help with marketing, with senior vice president Mike Abary telling CNet: “There wasn’t really a very clear positioning of what Windows RT meant in the marketplace, what it stood for relative to Windows 8.”

However, Samsung and other manufacturers could have helped their own cause by clearly explaining what Windows RT is and isn’t to retailers and would-be consumers. Certainly, anyone who bought the “Samsung Ativ Windows 8″ from Argos is in for a bit of a surprise.

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Posted in: Newsdesk, Windows 8


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11 Responses to “ Major retailers mis-selling Windows RT as Windows 8 ”

  1. James Says:
    April 4th, 2013 at 9:37 am

    My BBC model B came from Debenhams….

  2. Bill Maslen Says:
    April 4th, 2013 at 10:15 am

    It’s Windows CE all over again. But Windows RT will die off even more quickly, I fear. There’s just no incentive to invest in RT when there are so many other excellent options available, or about to be available. Look at how quickly HP nuked WebOS – I can see Microsoft doing exactly the same thing. Part of me would love to know if RT is a Ballmer baby – something he insisted on as a kind of sub-Windows? Who knows?

  3. SirRoderickSpode Says:
    April 4th, 2013 at 11:36 am

    There is more branding confusion with Microsoft’s various products than the average consumer can cope with.

    Already I have heard people talking about MS’s new OS, “Surface.” The TV adverts are not helping. As far as joe public is concerned, Windows8=WindowsRT=Surface.

  4. Steve Says:
    April 4th, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    Looking at Windows 8.1(Blue) all the changes are RT orientated. I don’t believe there are any updates to the desktop side. I don’t think MS are going to dump RT, if anything they are going to try and grow it. For the dippy consumer it is a much safer OS limiting installs to the Windows Store.

  5. Synaptic Fire Says:
    April 4th, 2013 at 2:03 pm

    “It won’t be tough for PC Pro readers to name what’s wrong with this picture:”

    Is it the dodgy cropping on the right?

  6. David Wright Says:
    April 4th, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    Windows CE? You can still buy devices using the Windows Mobile 6 derivative toady, so it didn’t disappear that quickly.

    As to the ATIV, that is a shame, as the actual Windows 8 version of the tablet is very good – I’m typing this post on mine.

    Here in Germany, they seem to be a lot better at labelling the RT tablets correctly.

  7. Martin Says:
    April 4th, 2013 at 7:05 pm

    As more apps come on line, plus Windows 8.1 (Blue) comes out, I reckon RT will start to make more sense.

    Current Windows RT only looks weak because of the app story.

    Is it that hard to understand?

  8. Katsu999 Says:
    April 5th, 2013 at 10:05 am

    MS are so confused and fractured these days, they are grabbing at so many straws at the same time and making a hash of all attempts to ‘Dominate’ any new market.

    Win8 forcing users to forget all previous interfaces – with no choice.

    XP and W7 are their only notable market share, so kill them off – good choice guys!

    RT – a cut-down Win that won’t run Win Progs. That can only install Progs from the MSStore, which is pretty empty in the RT aisles.

    Expensive for what you get – that’s normal for MS. While Android is free, and Google services are free, MS are charging as much as they can grab for both OS’s and Offices’. Good luck with that policy chaps.

    UEFI (and MS Boot Manager) – now your PC will only boot the Windows it came with, you cannot install the OS of your choice on your own machine. MS claim UEFI is more secure, but in reality it’s just a means for them to lock out and redundant-ize your hardware. When your HP laptop dies, so does your OS. Pointless and annoying, much like MS in general these days.

    Office 2013 Licence tied to your hardware – your Motherboard blows up, so does Office – of course!
    Yet again, pointless and annoying, and expensive.

    Want to sell a Smartphone OS that nobody wants? You’ll have to buy Nokia to make that donkey hobble along.

    Want to sell the childish Win8?
    Now you must buy Dell.

    Why does MS shoot itself in the face so often? Is it the new Ballmer Facial Effect? Anyway, it’s getting a lot better at doing it on a daily basis….

    Maybe RT looks weak, because it’s a crap idea arrived way too late and overpriced. I’m sure there are more reasons but I really can’t be arsed to waste good oxygen on more MS wittery.

    I give MS 5 years tops.
    And they don’t deserve that.

  9. Jared Says:
    April 5th, 2013 at 5:42 pm

    Windows RT should be marketed as Windows 8 for tablets. A proper tablet, with a cheap ARM CPU, without a keyboard, just a touch interface. This is where Windows RT would makes sense. A cheaper, cut down OS for tablets. It doesn’t need desktop apps because they are difficult to use with a touch interface. You can’t run Windows x86 programs on any other tablet (iPad, Nexus 10) so why would you miss them on this one? The only problem is all the Windows RT devices are hybrid devices that come with keyboards, expensive price tags and the constant reminder that “it’s Windows 8 why can’t I run my Windows programs.”

  10. Richard Says:
    April 5th, 2013 at 11:33 pm

    Office is now transferrable

  11. Paul C Says:
    April 6th, 2013 at 12:12 am

    I tried to explain to Argos that they were mis-selling. I told them they would be in trouble with Trading Standards or would end up in court. I told them to pass my email to someone who actually understood about computers. It made no difference, they just ignored me.


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