Report: Microsoft kept tight control over Windows RT devices

Microsoft only gave third party PC makers a heads up on the announcement of its Windows RT-based Surface tablet a few days before the company revealed the Surface to the world. Now there's a new report that claims, via unnamed quotes from some PC company reps, that Microsoft was highly involved in the design of the third party Windows RT tablets that ran on ARM-based processors, even before the reveal of Surface.

Cnet reports that during the development process of these third party Windows RT tablets, such as the Asus Vivo Tab shown above, Microsoft became something of a control freak. One unnamed PC hardware rep was quoted as saying, "We had to agree with Microsoft on each and every component that had a software impact, that had a device driver." Microsoft also reportedly spent more time testing Windows RT tablets from PC OEMs than normal Windows 8 PCs.

When Microsoft revealed the Surface tablet in June 2012, many PC makers were concerned there was not enough of a separation between the Surface group and the third party Windows RT team. Another unnamed hardware maker stated, "Without the clarity of when we are competing and when we are collaborating and working together against the Apples and the Androids of the world, it creates a degree of hesitation in almost anything you do or any discussion you have."

So far, there are only a few Windows RT tablets on sale besides the Surface. In addition to the Asus Vivo Tab, Lenovo launched the Yoga 11 just before Christmas and Dell launched the XPS 10 in December. Samsung has yet to put its previously announced ATIV Tab tablet on sale and Toshiba decided to postpone its previous plans to launch a Windows RT tablet; it's unknown if it will make such a product in 2013.

Source: CNet.com | Image via Asus

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"We had to agree with Microsoft on each and every component that had a software impact, that had a device driver."

hey mr. OEM rep, you are confused why this is happening? I wonder the **** why

"Without the clarity of when we are competing and when we are collaborating and working together against the Apples and the Androids of the world, it creates a degree of hesitation in almost anything you do or any discussion you have."

So do these third party vendors call each other up and let each other know when they are going to release a new product? IMO this is just another excuse used by companies that have been spoiled too much over the years.

Like that Norton anti-virus software on old windows XP then they make Windows XP so slowest due to scanner or start-up in the past, and now MSE will start-up so faster on Windows XP.

Xilo said,
So why do Windows RT devices perform like crap then?

Microsoft used a year old CPU in the Tegra 3 to make sure that it would meet software development and production deadlines.

Xilo said,
So why do Windows RT devices perform like crap then?

Compared to what?

So far various tests show the Surface RT to be 3 to 10 times faster than the Nexus 10, and 2 to 5 times faster than the latest iPad.

Even in the few browser type tests where the iPad beat the Surface RT on page loading by a couple of seconds, it was because the iPad only loads the visible images, and thus scrolling through the web page leaves 'holes' where content was not loaded and begins to drag in performance trying to obtain the content, thus offsetting the initial 'load' advantage and is several times slower to load a view a full web page.

The iPad does have a 'bit' faster GPU, but in high end graphical HTML5 tests, the Surface RT still easily beats the iPad in the majority of the tests, with the Surface RT rendering several of the tests at over 50 times the speed of the iPad.

Dolphin and Chrome in high end HTML5 tests range from 2 to 100 times slower than the Surface RT. Again, Chrome even on the desktop does poorly in complex CSS3 and HTML5 content.

(Windows RT on Surface can score higher on some of these HTML5 tests than Chrome on the fastest i7 and latest NVidia and AMD GPUs.)

So in comparison to what?

A full i5 based Windows 8 tablet is the only device in this form factor than can currently beat the Surface RT in most performance tests. So if that is your baseline, then yes, it performs like crap in comparison.

Good! I'm glad Microsoft took control. Hopefully we'll see less bloatware and broken drivers shipped with these tablet/laptop WinRT devices. In the past OEMs have been notoriously bad with their support of the stuff they've made and shipped with little to no care.

Well the drivers have to be written for ARM, so I am sure they are tested, but also you have to understand, there really can't be "Bloatware" on the Windows RT devices, since they cannot run any regular x86 apps and only ARM apps, which have to be digitally signed by MS to begin with. so you can't see "less" of something that doesn't exist.

xendrome said,
but also you have to understand, there really can't be "Bloatware" on the Windows RT devices

You just don't know who are they dealing with

sagum said,
Good! I'm glad Microsoft took control. Hopefully we'll see less bloatware and broken drivers shipped with these tablet/laptop WinRT devices. In the past OEMs have been notoriously bad with their support of the stuff they've made and shipped with little to no care.

This, MS has been slowly losing the battle over the years due to people hating Microsoft for faulty 3rd party software, drivers and often cheap as sh*t hardware.
Most of people's hatred towards MS is because of these 3rd parties.
With WinRT MS seems to want to start all over again with a clean sheet, back to IBM days basically (when MS was partnered with IBM systems which had hardware and software MS-DOS was written for).
MS kept taking the fall for 3rd parties, and still does on their regular Windows. With WinRT they are making sure no crap enters the market, and even when it does, the OEMs can lose their license for WinRT. I for one applaud this behavior. They keep Windows quite open but with a quality bar up high.

xendrome said,
Well the drivers have to be written for ARM, so I am sure they are tested, but also you have to understand, there really can't be "Bloatware" on the Windows RT devices, since they cannot run any regular x86 apps and only ARM apps, which have to be digitally signed by MS to begin with. so you can't see "less" of something that doesn't exist.

Bloat and bad drivers have and still does exist already from the rest the OEM build machines. Go pick up a laptop or desktop machine and show me where they've not installed some bloat along with it, it's almost impossible.

The fact that you say there isn't an option for them to do it now is just proving the point of why Microsoft needed to make it signed only by Microsoft. If it wasn't for Microsoft saying no, we would very well be having additional 'feature' programs installed on RT devices and broken drivers that crash every day.

xendrome said,
Not sure what that means, but unless MS digitally signs the application, it isn't going to be allowed to install/run.

PC Manufacturers will eventually try to get their way to preload apps.

MidTxWRX said,

PC Manufacturers will eventually try to get their way to preload apps.

Had this argument on another news item and you're quite right.
Many may not see it as 'bloatware' but as soon as third parties start getting permission to fill our start screen and live with cack, that's bloatware imo.

Tighter control and integration with hardware is extremely critical for good user experience. Microsoft has suffered a lot with this issue for many years, so a good step.

Adding to that, even stores and mobile providers are not doing justice to Microsoft products. Just compare experience of buying Windows Phone in Verizon store or Windows 8 laptop in Best Buy that to getting it in Microsoft Store.

The end to end control is necessary, if they want to compete against Apple and Google. There is no other way, and the PC industry needs to understand it clearly.

sagum said,
In the past OEMs have been notoriously bad with their support of the stuff they've made and shipped with little to no care.

OEMs are also quick to blame Microsoft for the poor demand for PCs. Scumbs.