Samsung shelving US Windows RT tablet plans

The best Windows RT tablet you'll never have
The best Windows RT tablet you'll never have

Those looking forward to Samsung's Windows tablet offerings will be in for a long wait, as the Korean tech giant is now shelving plans to launch a tablet running Windows RT.

At CES last week, Samsung U.S. Senior Vice President Mike Abary told CNET that the company no longer plans to launch a Windows RT tablet in the States, citing "modest" interest and general confusion from users as to what the operating system offered.

"When we did some tests and studies on how we could go to market with a Windows RT device, we determined there was a lot of heavy lifting we still needed to do to educate the customer on what Windows RT was," Abary said. "And that heavy lifting was going to require pretty heavy investment."

"When we added those two things up, the investments necessary to educate the consumer on the difference between RT and Windows 8, plus the modest feedback that we got regarding how successful could this be at retail from our retail partners, we decided maybe we ought to wait."

More like Windows DOA

Last year, Samsung unveiled the Ativ Tab, a Windows RT tablet that was supposed to boost the Windows tablet market like Samsung's Galaxy Tab devices have done on the Android platform.

The Ativ Tab was subject to multiple delays, and it seems now will never see the light of day. At least not in the U.S., though Samsung's comments do not rule out Windows RT tablets still arriving overseas.

Microsoft still claims that Windows 8 is performing strongly, with 60 million licenses sold for the operating system so far.

However, judging by how OEMs are backing away from Windows RT it would appear that the ARM-based OS does not account for a substantial number of those licenses.

Making compromises

Aside from questionable consumer interest, price is another hurdle Samsung is grappling with on Windows RT. According to Samsung, one of the appealing aspects of a Windows RT tablet compared to a full Windows 8 device should be the price, which Samsung would need to compromise in areas like system memory in order to make competitive.

"It's not an issue on Microsoft's side," Abary said regarding Windows RT architecture. "It's more an issue of how the product was built and some of the tradeoffs we had to incorporate in it."

Note that Samsung is speaking of waiting on launching a Windows RT tablet, and not cancelling all Windows RT development altogether.

Currently those tradeoffs are too great for Samsung to think a Windows RT tablet is viable, but that does not rule out the possibility of returning to Windows RT if more affordable options are discovered. The worry is that the solution will arrive too little too late as OEM advocacy for Windows RT wanes.