Microsoft Surface RT 2 and small Windows RT tablets will probably be cheaper

While most people want to know what the next Surface Pro is going to be like, it looks like Microsoft will try to generate interest in its flagging Windows RT platform by slashing its price for small tablets.

In all likelihood, that means the Surface RT 2, along with any other small Windows RT tablets Microsoft's hardware partners decide to make, will be launching at decidedly cheaper prices than they currently retail for.

The news comes courtesy of Bloomberg, which cited "people with knowledge of the matter" as sources. The website also reports that the move is intended to tempt hardware makers into jumping onboard the platform.

Right now, the only Windows RT platform that customers can find easily is the Surface RT. However, the high price of the tablet has turned off many users, especially since the operating system isn't as capable as the full-featured Windows 8. The Surface RT 2 is sure to boast some improvements by Microsoft, but without OEMs there offering support many analysts don't see the devices gaining ground against the likes of Apple and Android.

"You need more breadth of equipment manufacturers making the devices, you need lower prices, you need a better selection of devices," Wes Miller, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft, said to Bloomberg.

That kind of diversity as proven difficult for Microsoft to offer. Numerous hardware manufacturers have decided building Windows RT devices simply isn't worth their time, with both Hewlett-Packard and Samsung avoiding the OS (Samsung actually created a Windows RT device only to decide there was no reason to actually release it in the United States).

Meanwhile, Acer has embraced Windows 8 and Android for tablets but has sidestepped Windows RT altogether. "We have some R&D projects, but we will be very, very cautious in deciding whether we will do the launch and mass production," Acer Chairman J.T. Wang said, despite Microsoft's insistence that the platform is here to stay.

Over the weekend, HTC cancelled its plans for a full-size Windows RT slate, but is still moving forward with a smaller version. Dell is also supporting the platform with an updated XPS device. These tablets should be priced rather competitively now, if Microsoft really is slashing prices going forward. For the OS to succeed, it's going to need marked improvements in all tablets, from the Surface RT 2 to HTC's unannounced slate to Dell's new entry.

Over the past few months, both Windows RT and the Surface RT have come under fierce criticism, but if there's any good news to be had, it's that Dell sees many customers are actually quite pleased when they use the platform.

"We've found that customers using it are really, really happy," Neil Hand, vice president and general manager of Dell's tablet and performance PC business, said. "There just aren't enough of them knowing what it is, and why they should use it."

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