Re: Microsoft Price Policy
Microsoft have to choose between Surface RT becoming a cheap Linux box without Office or landfill RT.
Well the first is not going to happen. MS was never going to let you install another OS on this thing. Just why they thought selling a locked-down ARM tablet with no software ecosystem to speak of (having "Office" hardly counts, given the licensing terms and the fact that's it's restricted in other ways) was going to work is a mystery to me. Just who was it supposed to appeal to? Perhaps they made all those silly ads first and the various departments heads got carried away with how cool it seemed (to them) that they just had to go and build the damned thing.
There could have been a third option, and that would have been to announce a new cross-platform layer in Windows 8 and guarantee that all apps developed within the framework would work seamlessly across both ARM and x86 systems (and call it "Windows 8 Anywhere" or even use "Windows One" as an umbrella term to indicate the stuff will run on any of the MS/W8 platforms, including the new XBox) . Technically, the three main options for doing it would be (a) machine code translation like qemu (which the ARM/RT platform isn't up to doing well enough), (b) fat binaries that compile to both target platforms (like Apple did when it migrated between hardware platforms, twice), and (c) compile everything into a platform-agnostic bytecode that can be JIT-compiled into native code on the target platform at near-native speeds (eg, like Dalvik on Android). A consequence of this would have been no backwards compatibility on the RT platform, but if MS was really serious about it, they could totally have pushed everyone to adopt this "Windows One" (or whatever you want to call it) approach as part and parcel of taking the Windows 8 pill.
Unfortunately, as we can see from history (eg, .NET, Silverlight), even (or should that be "especially?") a behemoth like MS finds it very hard to do portability/interoperability. And anyway, even though it often pays lip service to these goals, in reality that's not what it wants. Rather, it wants to lock you in to its own proprietary solutions while spreading FUD about patents and whatnot to actively prevent interoperable implementations (which is why, for example, Mono on Linux is seen as such a bad idea for so many people). Besides the technical challenges, for this to be a success would require a large amount of bravery on the parts of the team tasked with developing Windows 8 all the way up to Ballmer. I simply think that there's no way they'd have to stomach to bet the farm so heavily on this sort of "Windows One" concept and risk making Windows 8 even more hated than it already is. The evidence for that is there: just look at the split personality that the Windows 8 desktop has as the prime example.
So I think I'll have to agree that landfill is probably the most likely final destination for most of these machines. In a few years time, my guess is that the App store will go away as the machine is quietly end-of-lifed so RT won't even be much use as a museum piece.