back to article Toshiba pulls out of Windows RT tablet push

Toshiba today backtracked on its decision to produce Windows RT tablets. It blamed the move on a delay in receiving key components. The manufacturer had previously announced its intent to make Surface-style slates with ARM-derived processors from Texas Instruments. However, after struggling to obtain certain parts, which it …


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  1. Miek

    " It blamed the move on a delay in receiving key components." -- The key component being a working and desirable operating system. XD

    1. Lee Dowling

      Well, I can't think what the other parts would be.

      ARM Processors? Licensed out to dozens of manufacturers and all pretty compatible.

      Tablet-specific parts (screens, touchscreens, accelerometers, whatever)? People are going mad for tablets at the moment, and any shortage wouldn't hit "just" Toshiba.

      Batteries? Same.

      Memory / storage? Same.

      Does Windows RT need some sort of specialised "RT-only" chip? Like a TPM or similar? Maybe that's it.

      Or maybe it was just a case of "it's not taking off like we thought it might, let's find an excuse to bug out and concentrate efforts elsewhere".

      It's either the OS, or a complete backing out of the project for other reasons than that stated. Can't say I would blame them either way, to be honest. Dead-horse floggers tend not to survive very long in business.

      1. John Bailey

        Yes.. it does need a special chip. Arm chips are not like x86 chips. Each maker makes a slightly different one, or a bunch of em. So a Samsung ARM chip is not the same as a TI chip, which is not the same as someone else's.

        Microsoft has also decided that the OS will be locked with the tablet at the hardware level, and no other OS will be allowed to run. So even more "special" than usual.

        Could very well be a shortage of the new chips. Problems with yield. Price too high to produce a device at a worthwhile profit. Anything is possible.

        Or Tosh could just be betting out because the getting is good.

      2. Ru

        "ARM Processors?"

        The cores and instruction sets are all pretty similar, but the SoC packages they end up in are anything but.

        If the MS-imposed device requirements are sufficiently strict (which seems likely) there may be a limited number of vendors who can guarantee a sufficient supply of suitable processors, and if Toshiba was a little slow or a little frugal in its attempts to secure this supply they may have been left in a slightly precarious situation.

        Still, seems slightly implausble that such a large and experienced consumer electronics company should run into such a hurdle.

      3. a_been

        Look guys it very simple

        Toshiba are backing out because they dont think they will be able to make money, that is they dont think Windows "what ever it called" will succed. If they thought they would get a decent ROI they would continue and given that they are willing to sell LCD tv's were they are losing money, clearly they think MS's tablet stratagy is DOA. Forget all this shit about ARM processor, over 4 billion were created last year, it not hard, it's not rocket science.

        Toshiba dont want to make MS tablets because they dont think they can make money, that's what it is.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It's not the operating system

      The parts that Toshiba is waiting on are not the operating system.

      The parts Toshiba are waiting are flat, made from cotton rag, green-ish, have pictures of dead presidents on them, and are shipped from Microsoft's bribery and extortion^W^W^WMarketing and advertisement group.

      1. hazydave

        Re: It's not the operating system

        Well, there is that. Nokia is getting US$250 million per quarter from Microsoft to make Windows Phone their priority. It can't be lost on all these other guys that Microsoft needs this to succeed more than most of them need Microsoft, and in particular, a totally unproven Windows RT market.

        Also, there's no real first-mover advantage in Windows RT. Anything with Windows rapidly becomes a commodity. It's more surprising to see these guys still in the game, given the US$75-$100 price advantage Microsoft will have (the required bundled cost of Windows RT + Office) over anyone else. And, as well, their ability to even take a loss on the hardware, if necessary (as with the X-Box and the HD-DVD players) to build market. I wouldn't want to be a Windows RT tablet vendor in the early days. MS may well introduce the Surface RT at iPad prices... but once they realize no large number of users will ever buy them at that price, they could drop it to $350... or even $200.

        A normal OEM wants to sell some hardware. Microsoft wants an installed base -- they want to make Windows RT a success in the low priced tablet market started by Apple. They need this, it's the central focus of the company right now, to the extent that they're very much risking the whole desktop franchise to get there. That means that, in the short term, Microsoft doesn't get a blast about hardware profits -- they just need warm bodies buying and using these things.

        It took over ten years for Microsoft to get profitable on gaming. But this, too, was strategically necessary. The problem here was a relatively small one... they were concerned about someone else gaining a Windows-like hold on the advanced game console that would eventually be a real home computer, but not a Windows home computer. They were correct... I had a startup (Metabox AG) in the late 1990s building a "set top box" for home video, which was really a complete home computer. Sony and other actually delivered that, even if they didn't capitalize on it in the way we planned (something more like what Google's doing today with Google TV... apps in the livingroom).

        But this was small potatos compared to the problem Microsoft has today: tablets like the iPad make pretty good personal computers for 60-80% of all users. Not me, maybe not anyone reading The Register, but you all know people who could live full-time on a small device. Particularly once the wirelessly dock with your TV and many other things. My Galaxy Nexus is more powerful than the PC I owned ten years ago... and that was around the time that PCs really were getting fast enough for most of the things most people would ever do (sure, gamers, artists, photo/video, CAD, etc. needs a desktop and 2-3 HD+ monitors, but that's a niche).

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It was reported elsewhere that Toshiba was planning to use Texas Instruments OMAP chips.

    However in other news TI investors are asking the company to stop making those.

  3. Wibble

    Wait & see?

    A timely and convenient excuse to leave the party and see if it's worth coming back later. Especially after hearing rumours of $200 retail price for the Microsoft proof of concept surface.

    How to make a small fortune from tablets... first start with a big one.

  4. Mad Chaz

    Windows RT

    I'm with those that claim the "part" is a desirable OS. Who'd want a Windows tablet that's as crippled as Microsoft could get away with anyway when you can get an Android one that actually works?

    1. Al Jones

      "an Android one that actually works?"

      Unless you want to watch content that is still only provided in Flash (and there's still a lot of it about), which is now longer available for new Android devices.

      I'm still using my old Android 2.3 tablet about 50% of the time, because it gives me access to content that my shiny new Nexus 7 just won't let me see.

  5. jason 7

    More likely.....

    ...they just want to see how it goes before investing a fortune in manufacturing and tooling.

    A six month wait could make all the difference.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In the mean time

    Roll up your sleeves, Toshiba, and start working seriously on Android tablets. Doing this will guarantee you will be the only master of your own destiny. Otherwise you'll end up in the same position you are now, an obedient follower of the Microsoft wagon.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm surprised that any OEM would still want to make Windows RT devices now

    Especially after Microsoft gave the biggest 'eff you' to them by announcing the Surface on ARM.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm surprised that any OEM would still want to make Windows RT devices now

      Simple answer, their brains were severely affected by decades of working for Microsoft. Like any slave, they can't show much creativity since they were never allowed to do it. So they will produce Windows RT devices because they don't know what else they could do.

  8. mark l 2 Silver badge

    Well since Toshiba are continuing to make Android tablets i hardly think its a shortage of supplies as surely they would use virtually the same part for Android tablets as Windows RT ones, apart from the secure bootloader chip for the Windows RT tablets, which i assume is just a ROM chip so wouldn't be that hard to source.

    1. Richard Plinston

      > they would use virtually the same part for Android tablets as Windows RT ones,

      No. Microsoft dictates what parts are used. In particular the SoCs, the screen res, and much else. This is what they did with WP7 which is why all WP7 phones were much the same and way behind the leading edge. This allows the component makers to set higher prices for those items because the OEMs can't substitute an alternative.

      Also Apple has built its supply chain and all components are being bought in high volumes on good lead times. This makes it impossible for any one OEM to get sufficient traction to bring prices down to iPad levels and MS's dictates ensure that they can't combine purchasing with other OEMs.

      With having to pay MS $80-90 for W.RT the OEMs cannot possibly build an iPad or Android competitor and make a profit. MS may well be able to afford subsidizing Surface but they intend to make up for it with services and appstore, something that OEMs will not be able to do as MS will lock any OEM RT machines to their appstore.

      1. Al Jones

        "With having to pay MS $80-90 for W.RT "

        Are you not embarrassed repeating this obvious piece of bullshit? No large OEM has paid even a quarter of that for any version of Windows in years.

        With such a low level of critical thinking, it's hardly surprising that you didn't notice that Toshiba is trying to sell 7" tablets for $450 when Google has set the price that type of kit at $200.

        Toshiba isn't going to produce an RT table for the same reason that it isn't going to produce any new Android tablets - it's a market that it doesn't think it can compete in.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @Al Jones - Re: "With having to pay MS $80-90 for W.RT "

          So they can't produce Android devices, no WindowsRT and no iOS either for that matter. What's left to them ? It's a sad situation when you've become a maker of hardware in desperate search of an OS. Looking at their tablet offer and their line of laptops produced in the last decade I would say I will hardly notice their demise from the computing devices business. Some part of me inside is rejoicing just a little bit because their products were less than Linux friendly so this might be seen as a form of late justice. They decided to live and die with Windows, they have lived long enough and maybe now the time has come for them to honour the second part of their contract.

        2. Richard Plinston

          Re: "With having to pay MS $80-90 for W.RT "

          > Are you not embarrassed repeating this obvious piece of bullshit? No

          > large OEM has paid even a quarter of that for any version of Windows in years.

          I am certainly not embarrassed, I call your claim as bullshit and refer you to a reliable site:


          """Various reports claim Microsoft is charging manufacturers between $80 and $95 USD for an OEM Windows RT license to be used on a tablet. That's roughly the same pricetag required for the OEM version of Windows 7 Home Premium for desktops and laptops,"""

          Note that Windows RT includes a copy of Office RT.

          > Google has set the price that type of kit at $200

          Google is probably just covering its costs at that price, just as Nook does. Toshiba has to factor in retail markups. Anyway Toshibadirect has theirs for $300 so your comparison is just more bullshit.

          You are, however, correct that an RT tablet won't be competitive. Having to pay MS $80-$90 will make the total cost much more than an equivalent iPad.

          1. Al Jones

            Re: "With having to pay MS $80-90 for W.RT "

            Even TomsHardware backed off on those figures, later citing "Unnamed Taiwan-based notebook supply chain makers" as the source for a $50-$65 price.

            The problem that even a fanboi should be able to spot with that is that "Unnamed Taiwan-based notebook supply chain makers" haven't been invited to the RT party - only a very small number of very big partners will be allowed to make WinRT tablets, and you can be sure that the handful of people in those companies who have access to the financials won't be telling their buddies about it over a pint in the corner pub.

            As for Office RT? The latest news is that WinRT will ship with a PREVIEW version of Office RT - there hasn't been any confirmation from Microsoft of exactly what that means. If Office2013 RT turns out to be a subscription based app, then the musings of "Unnamed Taiwan-based notebook supply chain makers" will look even dumber than they do now.

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