Low expectations have been very good to me. I've said for a long time that any success I've had can be attributed to low expectations. We've all heard the phrase, "Under Promise, Over Deliver." That's all about setting expectations low, so you can come in just over them and look like a star. Low expectations can definitely work in your favor. Conversely, high, or incorrect expectations can kill you. And that's what brings us to Windows RT.
You don't have to look very far to find someone, a blogger, a journalist, a hair stylist, that has something horrible to say about Windows 8. Myself included. Windows RT has gotten an especially bad rap. Any time Windows 8 thinks it's having a bad day, all it needs to remind itself is that no matter how bad it gets, it always has it better than Windows RT. Until a couple of weeks ago I was onboard. I made cracks about Windows RT right along with everyone else, I'd kick sand in Windows RT's face. Then I got a Surface RT…
Here's where expectations come in. I'm late to the RT game. Windows RT has been out nearly a year at this point. There's much less confusion about it now than there was initially. To me, Windows RT is a tablet OS, analogous to iOS on an iPad or Android on any number of tablets. I've had a number of Android tablets, so that's what I compared it to in my head. Another expectation I had was the price. Normally the 64 GB Surface RT that I have sells for $599. I paid $99 for mine at TechEd, and it wasn't out of the back of a van in an alley behind Bourbon Street.
So I walked into this thinking, "Is this Surface RT worth $99 and is it a capable replacement for my Asus Transformer Android tablet?" If the answer to both of those is a thumbs up, then I like it. If either is a thumbs down, then I have some thinking to do. Turns out the answer was a resounding, "Hell yes!!" It is definitely worth the $99 I paid and it definitely is better than my two year old Android tablet. And to make things as cliché as possible, I'm even typing this blog post on my Surface RT. Though in the spirit of honesty, I used a regular USB keyboard for a lot of it. I only have the Touch Keyboard, and it's not the best for typing long tomes like this one.
I think the Windows RT platform would have been a lot more successful if Microsoft had done a better job positioning it and setting peoples' expectations correctly. There's a lot of confusion about what Windows RT is, and I think a lot of people don't understand why they would choose a Surface RT device instead of Surface Pro. This is all Microsoft's fault, and it's a big part of RT's lack of adoption. They need to be clear positioning RT against iPads and Android tablets. For instance, I was on Twitter, espousing my love for my Surface RT and Harold Gale (Twitter | Blog) and I started chatting. He didn't share my unbounded love for Windows RT, and he sent me a link to this Microsoft document that explains a bunch of the limitations of Windows RT. There's a whole list of things, then there's this list of features at the bottom that aren't included in Windows RT:
- CD and DVD burning
- HomeGroup creation
- Document services, which includes integrated tools for faxing and scanning
- Location-aware printing
- Network location aware service
- Domain join
- Windows Media Player
- Windows Journal
- System image restore
- Sticky Notes
- Offline files
- Sync Center
As I read through this list, none of these things bothered me. I can't imagine anyone's ever said, "This iPad is crap, it can't burn a DVD!!!" or "This Android tablet is worthless without location-aware printing!! I'm going back to pencil and paper!" Yet for Windows RT, these same things are considered limitations, even by Microsoft itself. Expectations are all wrong. And while I don't have Windows Media Player specifically, I can play my MP3s of accordion hits, and watch all my downloaded videos of cats in funny hats. And who even knows what Windows Journal is. Is that made up?
Because of this confusion, the Windows RT platform, and by extension my poor, lovable Surface RT, are held to expectations they just can't meet. These incorrect expectations are killing it. Windows RT is a great tablet platform and it's going to be even better when the Windows 8.1 updates come out in the fall of 2013.
Hopefully reading this blog post has changed your mind about Windows RT and you'll give it a fair shake.
Edited 6/21 to fix typo in the penultimate paragraph