Nokia Tablet May Reboot Windows RT

Rumor has it Nokia may build a Windows 8 RT tablet based on ARM. But with Microsoft's Surface RT tablet somewhat of a dud, why is Nokia taking up the reigns? Microsoft's OEM partners are all sticking with Intel, but why won't Microsoft?

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nokia_lumina_tablet_surfaceReports from unnamed "sources" have alleged Nokia may be building a Microsoft Corp. Windows RT tablet, much like the current Surface RT tablet Microsoft launched earlier this year.

Nokia's tablet is set to have similar features to Microsoft's flagship product, but offer a unique keyboard that can power the device in a pinch. Two USB ports and a 10-inch screen complement a 10-hour battery and a book-like enclosure. Rumor has it the device will be unveiled by Nokia at the Mobile World Congress this year, an expo featuring the latest in mobile technology.

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Considering the disheartening reception for Surface RT -- in addition to Steven Sinofsky's departure post-Surface launch -- Microsoft is in a bind, clearly looking to rework its Windows RT strategy. But with an Intel-based Windows 8 tablets coming from Dell, Acer, HP, Lenovo and many more, one has to wonder what Microsoft and Nokia plan on doing by redesigning a product that has not made the grade.

It could be because Microsoft isn't done trying, or because Nokia needs to fulfill its end of a 2011's partnership with Microsoft, wherein Nokia was given upwards of $1 billion to build "products on the Windows Phone platform, with the aim of securing volume device shipments in 2012 ... keeping with the intention to build a new ecosystem based on a long-term, strategic partnership." It's likely Microsoft is insistent on exploiting the relationship to expand this "ecosystem."

With or without corporate obligations, Microsoft should be asking if its worth the effort. If the Intel-based Surface Pro tablet delivers and OEMs continue to shun the ARM-based Windows world in favor of x86, what, then, is the relevancy of the Windows RT platform?

It's unlikely OEMs are missing the boat. This could be a miscalculation on Microsoft's part. The benefits of x86 are fast approaching the same advantages of ARM-based CPUs. Intel's new micro-server processor is a testament to those efforts. With so much Windows 8 hype focused around a "no compromise"  backwards-compatible platform -- which Microsoft chose not to lead with -- Microsoft seems to be fumbling on all counts, unable to find a vision for Windows 8 as a cohesive product.

While a Nokia's reboot of Surface may apply the polish that Microsoft's Surface RT lacked, the ultimate fate of  Windows RT will hang in the balance. Microsoft can't afford two flops, and neither can Nokia.

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