Microsoft Says Surface RT Branding Confused Customers

Paul Lilly

ARM-based Surface 2 systems won't carry RT branding

Whatever your opinion of Microsoft's original Surface products, one thing most people can agree on is that the Redmond company did a poor job educating consumers on the difference between Windows 8 and Windows RT. It's not as though tech savvy users picked up a Surface RT and expected to run legacy Windows apps, but for the mainstream user who doesn't understand that ARM-based SoCs and x86 processors feature completely different architectures, the RT branding could be confusing. Microsoft has now admitted as much.

The admission came courtesy of Jack Cowett, a product marketing manager for Surface, who spoke bluntly with Australian news site ARN about Surface RT's branding.

"We think there was some confusion in the market last year on the difference between Surface RT and Surface Pro," Cowett said. "We want to help make it easier for people, and these are two different products designed for two different people."

Even though the RT branding is being kicked to the curb, it's important to note that Surface 2 will feature an ARM-based foundation and run Windows RT 8.1. It will be available in 32GB and 64GB models starting October 22. On the flipside, Surface 2 Pro has Intel inside and will run Windows 8.1.

It will be interesting to see what Microsoft does differently this time around in terms of marketing these devices. Whether due to confusion over the RT branding or other factors, Microsoft ultimately ended up taking a $900 million charge on unsold Surface inventory earlier this year, and that's something the company (and its investors) don't want to repeat. To Microsoft's credit, Surface 2 and Surface 2 Pro are much better products with improved specs and a better overall design.

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