Microsoft’s first round of Surface tablets wasn’t without its problems, and for us many of those focused squarely on the Surface RT. We had question not just about whether or not the tablet’s hardware was up to the job, but also about the idea of Windows RT in the first place, offering users a seriously limited slice of the greater Windows ecosystem. This year, we saw Microsoft drop the “RT” from the Surface 2’s name and wondered if this was some way to distance itself from the RT brand. Some comments from Microsoft product marketing manager Jack Cowett have us thinking about another motivation, though it’s not one we’re sure makes a lot of sense.
To hear Microsoft tell it, the issue isn’t that people don’t want RT or find themselves let down by its limitations, but that they just don’t understand what it is in the first place. Cowett explains, “we think that there was some confusion in the market last year on the difference between Surface RT and Surface Pro. We want to help make it easier for people, and these are two different products designed for two different people.”
While all of that makes enough sense on its own, it seems to go a little counter to what Microsoft actually did with its new Surface models. After all, if the problem was that people didn’t appreciate the differences between them, wouldn’t it make more sense to keep the RT name, and just do a better job of explaining what it means? By dropping it altogether, isn’t Microsoft simply going to increase the chance for confusion between the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2, now that they sound more alike than ever?