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Microsoft Surface RT tablet vs Apple iPad: The verdict

David Price | July 24, 2013
Customers vote with their wallets as Microsoft's challenge fizzles out. Here's where it all went wrong - and right - for the tablet rivals.

Whereas Windows 8 has its cheerleaders, the RT operating system is widely felt to be too limiting; most seriously, it can't run conventional programs, and is dependent on Windows's app store, which remains critically short on good third-party software for the Metro interface. Apps are the lifeblood of a mobile ecosystem, and while it struggled gamely to catch up on the head start it had given to Apple and Google, Microsoft's didn't cut the mustard.

Microsoft Surface RT vs iPad: a question of apps
As Chris Martin wrote last year:/p>

"With Office and IE10 pre-installed, getting work done out of the box is no problem. However since you can't install the programs you use on your Windows desktop you'll be heading to the Store for apps, just like you would on the iPad or an Android tablet.

"As it stands, this is the area where the Surface RT falls down. There are a few big-name apps like Netflix and Microsoft's own like Skype and Xbox SmartGlass. However, there's a lack of the apps most iPad and Android tablet owners use every day including Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, Google Maps, Dropbox, Spotify, BBC iPlayer, IMDb, ESPN Goals and Sky Go. Games not available include Bad Piggies, Words With Friends and World Of Goo - the list goes on."

Microsoft Windows RT

Steve Ballmer said it best. Microsoft (along with all other operating system makers) is dependent on the quality of its developers. And it simply hasn't made sense for enough mobile developers to port their apps on to Windows after iOS and Android. It's a vicious circle; little third-party developer interest means little user interest; little user interest means little third-party developer interest. Some of those gaps mentioned above were filled, but it was a case of too little, too late.

Competition is good for a healthy market, and even the iPad lovers here at Macworld hope that Microsoft can find a successful mobile strategy and keep Apple and Google honest. But if it's to do so, we'd propose that it needs to start with its apps. Get that right, and everything else will fall into place.

 

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