$85 Windows RT Licence, can they make it optional? (dual-booting free Android)

Posted by Charbax – June 17, 2012

Theo Valich reports on VR-Zone.com that sources at Taiwanese PC/Tablet manufacturers are complaining that Microsoft wants to charge an enormous $85 licence for Windows 8 RT on ARM. $85 can be nearly double the price of a completely smooth Android tablet hardware, and Microsoft wants to charge that $85 for the software licence?

I don't mind Microsoft charging whatever they want for their proprietary software. The most important thing we need to demand from Microsoft and to demand from the industry is for these devices to be made available with Windows RT as only an option, something that the consumers must have the choice to not buy and to not use. Consumers should have the choice to pay $85 less and have the same hardware boot Android or Ubuntu for free. Consumers should basically buy an Android device and have the choice to "install" Windows 8 RT as an optional multi-boot function. Basically, Microsoft can put Windows RT up as a $85 paid app in the Google Play store.

If Microsoft does not like the idea of RT "simply" being an app on Android, they need to provide that choice in some type of multi-boot screen of some type. Let consumers type in their credit card infos and send the $85 to Microsoft if they want to have the option to boot into Windows RT and get the Microsoft Office, Metro and whatever else comes with that. Perhaps some keyboard shortcut or an OS switch hardware button should thus allow users to instantly switch to Android, to Ubuntu and to any other open or closed OS of their choice.

Forcing users to pay the $85 Windows RT licence should be unacceptable. It has been common practice on x86 for far too long and it needs to stop now with ARM. I actually think Microsoft can only gain market share on this new class of hardware if they accept and go with the multi-boot strategy. I think many consumers wouldn't mind having Windows RT as a multi-boot option on their hardware but I think few consumers would actually demand being locked into only having Windows RT. Obviously, if Microsoft makes Windows RT a $30 option it becomes more popular, and if Microsoft makes Windows RT free and open source, then they'dd obviously maximize their chances.

And if people really want the Windows 8 style tile interface and use it on any cheap Android tablet they can already download and use a fake Windows 8 home replacement as I show in this video:

  • elmerfudd

    Windows RT tablets will not be able to dual boot as they require Secure UEFI. Theoretically it could be possible in the future with the changes red hat are attempting to make, but for the moment the linux kernel is in no way compatible with secure UEFI.
    The X86 version of windows 8 will have secure UEFI “optional”, most likely due to fear of monopoly allegations.

  • I think ARM Android/Ubuntu/Fedora are working to support UEFI, so now it’s only going to be a question of seeing if Microsoft and manufacturers allow it. And that should mean consumers should be able to buy the exact same hardware minus $85 running open source software for free.

  •  Hey Nicholas,

    As of lately I’ve been enjoying reading your blog as usual. Many interesting vids, too many to watch all sadly…

    Recently, I saw you spent several weeks in China.

    Since you’re far away, it means from here I cannot look into your crystall ball; so maybe you can enlighten me.
    We read / hear enough about peoples opinions in the West, but given China is the no. 1 market these days, to make expectations about where the tablet market is heading, I think one should look at China first. Which is pretty hard from here, but maybe by now you have a feeling of the consumer needs in China.

    Can you give your opinion about the following:

    Few years back, IIRC you had the same kind of announcements as nowadays, about 150+ cheap Linux-netbooks (lots of them presented at Computex). However most of them never reached consumers and nobody knows where they actually went. Microsoft made a cheap version of XP available for netbooks, netbooks with Linux kind of disappearde, and only a few netbooks became popular until iPad ate most of netbook’s lunch.

    Now, these days there’s more and more sub-$150 tablets available.
    Given the price of Windows RT, WinRT netbooks will be over $200.

    Many people – including Gartner – believe iPad will continue to stay market leader, selling more tablets than all the other competitors combined.

    As of recently, it seems China is the biggest market for smartphones and tablets though.

    What I wonder is:

    -Given the availability of all the cheap tablets, what will Chinese consumers buy? Is an iPad a status symbol which all consumers want? Or is it true they can not afford an iPad, so they all buy Chinese tablets?

    -What do you think about Gartner’s figures,
    which say 2 Apple models (‘new’ iPad and iPad2 I guess) will sell more than all other competition combined?
    Do lots of Chinese consumers actually buy all the cheap tablets you’re vlogging about?

    -Do Chinese people care about Windows on tablets? Given a $200 tablet with WinRT or a $100 Android-tablet, do you suggest they will pay the premium?

    -Are you sure all those cheap tablets are not vapourware, like all those netbooks announced?
    What about Chromebooks:

    more than a year later we didn’t see _anything_ happen yet.

    So basically, the question boils down to:

    What do Chinese consumers really want,
    -Do they really need / want a tablet?
    -If so, can they afford it, given the economic recession?
    -If so, what’s important in deciding which one: Is it price, brand, OS, functionality, performance?
    -Is it realistic to expect Apple will continue to sell more tablets than all Android tablets combined?
    -Are there any sales numbers of tablets in China?
    -And of course, will Intel change the market and make it hard for ARM? Intel things eventually the whole market will consolidate and only a few SoC makers will survive, though if I read ARMDevices, it looks as if only more companies are joining (MediaTek, AMLogic, NuFront, RockChip, HiSillicon: All of those were unknown SoC makers to me a few years back). So, will all those many Chinese manufacturers sell enough to survive?

    Ah, sorry, I only meant to ask some questions about your expactations about WinRT, but anyway, those are all interesting topics.

  • Here’s what I think. Gartner is mostly full of it. Android tablets have overtaken the iPad since last year. The only reason it’s not obvious to everyone is because Apple timed iPad3 release 2 weeks before the end of Q1 2012 to catch up with Android volume for the quarter which is the only number being reported on by stupid media. I believe China is about 50% of the worldwide tablet market today. Which is absolutely insane. Most Chinese people don’t even have a TV with a HDMI input, thus the new AllWinner A13 and Rockchip RK2906 are to gain traction removing HDMI and removing another $5 to $10 of retail price by it. Something not being felt as strongly outside of China. The rule of thumb is Android market share will continue to grow forever and all other platforms shrink. Both for smartphones and tablets. Expect same to happen with Android on Laptops, Set-top-boxes, Wearable Compute, E-readers, Android by definition is built to totally dominate every market quite simply because it’s Linux, it’s free, it’s open source, nobody can compete with that. It’s actually impossible to compete with free and open source unless illegal anti-competitive tactics are used. Apple does try with the ridiculous Smartphone Subsidies market to keep their share of smartphones, desperately. And Microsoft for sure uses desperate behind the scenes threats with Taiwanese device makers forcing them all to release Windows 8/RT stuff or to be sued for totally completely bogus software patents and also being cut out of all types of illegal rebates and kick-backs if any even considers not working with Microsoft on Windows 8/RT regardless of the conditions and the price. Microsoft is like a very desperate mafia boss trying to hang on to whatever little business as usual it can get while the whole society around is tired of being ruled by the stupid overpriced proprietary mafia.

    The only reasons Chromebooks haven’t happened yet is because of Intel. The other old stupid mafia boss that nobody wants to pay anymore but is being forced to by Intel’s increasingly desperate threats towards Taiwanese makers (Acer, Asus, MSI, Gigabyte, Lenovo etc), basically every is forced to drop the idea of making $199 ARM Powered Chromebooks if they don’t want to be forced paying double for all other Intel processors, they all loose Intel’s “mafia protection” if they don’t collaborate with Intel’s totally stupid Ultrabook scheme that no consumer wants to pay $1000 for a laptop, it’s plain stubborn and moronic. Intel and Microsoft are facing certain extinction, it’s a case of their board of directors trying desperately to come up with desperate attempts at staying relevant, all their attempts are evil and bad but luckily none of these desperate attemps are going to work.

    As soon as one major Laptop maker gives up the Wintel mafia, and starts making $199 ARM Powered Ultrabooks that run Chrome OS wonderfully, it’ll be the realization of the decade old thin client dream, it being realized the only correct way, that is to make of HTML5 and the browser the thin client model, $199 ARM Powered thinner/lighter than Ultrabook-style Chromebooks are going to last double or longer on a thinner/lighter battery, they are going to be even more stylish than any Ultrabook yet yes they can be sold for $199 without a loss as the Chrome browser monetization model is already proven to generate more than $25 annually to manufacturers, even more can be monetized out of each Chromebooks with certain ARM TrustZone, geo-localized features etc. and also some pre-paid 3G/4G data bandwidth.

  • Joakim

    Do you have any supporting evidence whatsoever for your claims that Microsoft and Intel are strong-arming the Taiwanese to reduce their ARM support?  Because if you do, that would be great anti-trust evidence for anyone who wanted to screw over these two American companies.  As for your “thin client dream,” keep dreaming because HTML5 is not a thin client anymore.  It is a bloated rich client, more analogous to Flash, though more slow and inefficient, than anything else.  Chromebooks are dead on arrival, even Linus Torvalds recently said that his first-generation Chromebook was “slow and horrible.”  I do think that Microsoft and Intel are on their way out, but the next winners appear to be Apple and ARM, not Android.

  • Linus Torvalds first-generation Chromebook is crappy because it’s using an Intel processor. The thin client has always had to be able to do such things as play videos, run stuff from cache, even run stuff offline, that is why HTML5 and the web is becoming the perfect thin client platform. I do not have the power to demand tapped phone conversations in Taiwan between executives at Acer, Asus, MSI, Gigabyte and Microsoft and Intel, but if you did them, you’d hear clearly how Microsoft and Intel are desperately using completely illegal mafia tactics. It’s just sad for Taiwan,and it’s sad for the world. But one can be hopeful it won’t be possible for the Wintel mafia to convince every major Laptop maker, and that some independency will be felt out of one or the other, that Toshiba, some other Japanese giant, or maybe Lenovo or some other Chinese giant under the order of the Chinese Government will break out of the dictate by the Wintel mafia and they will jump straight at attacking the whole Ultrabook and Windows 8 concepts by releasing nicer-than-ultrabook devices running ARM Processors at sub $300, running Chrome OS, Ubuntu, Android for free instead of Windows 8 RT.

  • Joakim

    Heh, you are nothing if not predictable: I knew you would then claim that the Chromebook processor was not powerful enough because it’s an Atom.  However, all benchmarks show that Atom processors at least double the computational performance of ARM processors, though the ARM processors still win on battery life.  So if you think the first-generation Chromebook was crappy because the Intel Atom chip wasn’t powerful enough, guess what?  The Chromebook is going to be even worse with a weaker ARM chip. 🙂

    No thin client has ever played videos or run offline, I don’t think you know what the term means.  The point is that HTML5 is such a bloated runtime that it is now a rich client, like Java or Flash or Silverlight, with all the slowness and battery problems caused by those inefficient runtimes.

    I see, so you have absolutely no evidence for your claims that the only thing holding ARM laptops back are threats from Microsoft and Intel.  I’m not saying such intimidation isn’t happening, as I have no connection to that world, but you can’t just say it without some evidence, even if it’s just something they whisper to you.

    I suggest the main reason they don’t put out ARM laptops is that all the software on ARM sucks.  I know, I tried to find something that would make my Pandaboard ES usable as a desktop and I didn’t find anything.  They are waiting for Windows 8 to come out so there’s a credible OS they can use with ARM devices, at least one other than the incredibly successful iOS, which they unfortunately cannot license.  I agree with you that ARM will be very successful then, but only because of iOS and ironically Windows 8, even with the higher fee you complain about, not because of shitty free software like Ubuntu or Android.

  • Joakim

    Oops, I misread my first link, that Atom core is roughly equivalent to a Cortex A9 core.  Still, if you think Atom sucks, that means the Cortex A9 equally sucks. :p

  • TWE

    As a windows user I’d have to say there were huge opportunities for Microsoft concerning Win 8 and they managed to blow ’em all. The $85 won’t help with them breaking into the tablet market.

  •  Yes, the latest generation of 32nm low-power Atoms are rougly equivalent to 40nm Cortex-A9 ARMs.

    However, there is no quad-core low-power Atom in sight (say Tegra3 or dual-core Krait equivalents).

    It is safe to say that Atom is still 1-1,5 generation behind in low-power applications and it is an open question whether it will close the gap ever. So far the gap seems to be closing but one cannot be certain about the future.

  • Jforde0518

    Apple should be forced to allow their iPads to come without IOS 5 and have the option to download it so that users could also choose to download Windows RT or Android for their iPad! (sarcasm intended)

  • Milticast

    you seem to totally miss the point apple make their own Ipads and can do whatever they like with their OS and charge what they please at an all inclusive price, as can The Surface tablet by Microsoft 
    they even charge about the same price as each other there apparently is its all their own all inclusive kit.

    the point about the MS $85 charge for other ARM vendors wishing to potentially offer 
    Windows RT as an option will not be cost effective even if SM consider their new product to be within the apple price range and become a mass market ARM device too, it wont and their  potential Windows RT  OS $85 charge to the masses of ARM OEM’s  doesn’t help them gain Windows RT mass market share

  • Milticast

    +2 for that   🙂

    the fact that ARM are now so popular and becoming even more so as time passes seems to be since the Cortex and it’s NEON SIMD became available, now finally there is a contender for making and taking new mass world profits for everyone and all these masses of ARM vendor products know it.

     Intel need to keep up OC but that’s not really a big problem for them , its AMD that has the problem, they have Nothing of real value to offer this growing market at ether end  hence their ARM collaborations in recent days to try and make something (their not quite sure what) of all this new ARM interest from all corners of the world big and small 3rd partys

  • Milticast

    Booting Linux from UEFI on Beagleboard QemuAlan Chuang Alan.Chuang at arm.com Fri Aug 19 08:09:33 UTC 2011 

    http://www.linaro.org/linaro-blog/2012/05/11/april-2012-ceo-report/April 2012 CEO ReportPOSTED ON MAY 11, 2012 BY GEORGE GREY
    “….. 10 years ago the thought of using server based SMP Linux for mobile phones would have been met with extreme skepticism, yet today that is exactly the norm, as many of the mechanisms for running multi-processor Linux server software are now in your multi-core SoC-based mobile phone. 

    Take UEFI as another example: a year ago there was little interest in UEFI as a mobile phone boot mechanism, except as a future roadmap item for ARM servers. Then an interesting thing happened. UEFI is the standard secure boot mechanism for Windows 8. 

    Secure boot is becoming more important for all mobile devices as they store more and more personal information, and start to be widely used for banking and financial transactions.

    Today most mobile devices use custom bootloaders. However, few products are sold on the basis of differentiated boot implementations. It makes a great deal of sense for members to agree to work on a single implementation of secure boot and UEFI together.

    This is a good example of the value of Linaro for members. Without Linaro each SoC vendor must do this work themselves — it is core and necessary — and yet non-differentiating. If the costs of developing and maintaining UEFI are shared in Linaro then the members will benefit. 

    As you will see below Linaro has already started working on UEFI on the ARM Versatile Express and we will be bringing proposals to the TSC to widen this activity to support all of our members products and to provide Linaro support for UEFI moving forward.

    I look forward to seeing you all at Linaro Connect later this month.”http://sourceforge.net/apps/mediawiki/tianocore/index.php?title=SamsungPlatformPkg http://www.linaro.org/linaro-blog/2012/03/01/linaro-connect-q2-12-28-may-1-june-2012-at-the-gold-coast-hotel-in-hong-kong/ 

    it seems they have it covered and planed for the near future at least

  • Milticast

    he said “is crappy” NOT “was not powerful enough” we can all agree current Atom eats power by the bucket load  in comparison to ARM cortex 🙂

    “I tried to find something that would make my Pandaboard ES usable as a desktop and I didn’t find anything. ”

    you are aware that the Pandaboard ES is a low post DEVELOPER Board right, so develop something if you cant find what YOU want.

     and OC being one of the first lower cost dev boards its not in the least surprising that its got a rather slow Dual core A9 and lower memory bus etc, if you want fast get and pay the price of a real Quad  Cortex something like these “Exynos 5” Quad core 4212 (previously called 4412) developer boards on the market, they even have the now Midgard Mali T-604 on those Evaluation Boards now, dont be a cheapskate developer 😉

  • ElectricPrism

    I’m really disappointed in Microsoft for their efforts to lock-down devices – I already expect this kind of behavior from Apple but it really makes me dig my fingernails into my desk in a hope to convert to Ubuntu and run Windows in VirtualBox.

    And after demoing Windows 8? What a piece of trash – Windows 7 already complicates my work by reducing programs to tiny icons with screenshots that are difficult to discern between one another – add in 3 1080p monitors and you have the best ADD OS ever – but the way Windows 8 is going, it’s doomed to be Windows Millennium Edition mutant brother.

  • Asus, Acer, Gigabyte, MSI, Toshiba, Sony etc are the companies releasing the Windows RT devices, Microsoft MUST NOT be allowed to force them not to dual-boot Android, Ubuntu, Chrome OS and whatever other OS they want. Microsoft MUST NOT be allowed to forbid those companies from selling the device for $85-$100 cheaper without Windows RT pre-installed and consumers thus MUST be allowed to buy the Windows RT licence and install it later if they need it.

    Of course Microsoft does not have to pre-install Android on their own XboX Surface Tablet device if they don’t want to, but Microsoft MUST NOT be allowed to force third party manufacturers to be locked into forcing all consumers to pay for the licence and be incompatible with free open source software.

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  • Netham

    Nothing is stopping the manufacturers from releasing the same hardware with a different OS for cheaper, and the poster seems to be completely oblivious to this fact.