Windows 8 Update: Surface RT isn't dead but it's struggling

The next-gen Surface RT will include Outlook

Microsoft's Surface RT tablets have been in trouble almost since they became available last year, but it looks like the company is going to hang with them at least through the next version.

Chip provider Nvidia's CEO, Jen-Hsun Huang, said his company is working with Microsoft on the next-gen Surface RT, according to CNET.

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The device itself isn't going to be the big draw for Surface RT II, though, Huang said; it will be the standard inclusion of Outlook.  "It is the killer app for Windows," Huang says to CNN. "Now we're going to bring it with the second-generation Surface. We're working really hard on it, and we hope that it's going to be a big success."

That's the firmest official indication that Surface RT won't be scrapped amid plenty of signs that it and the more generic Windows RT might be canceled. These include a $900 million write-off Microsoft took against Surface RT, sales figures that show the company sold fewer than 1.7 million of them since last fall and the abandonment of Windows RT by OEM partner Asustek.

Another OEM partner, Acer, says it will renew focus on Android devices and Chromebooks in an attempt to recoup losses on tablets. "We are trying to grow our non-Windows business as soon as possible," Acer president Jim Wong says in an article in The Wall Street Journal.

Microsoft taunts iPad -- again

The latest Windows RT video ad again compares the iPad -- unfavorably -- to Surface RT, again indicating Microsoft plans to have the device around for a while.

The video gives Surface RT the edge on screen size, split-screen app display, USB port and price. It also credits Surface RT with having an integrated keyboard, which is a little sketchy since you can buy the device without the keyboard. Perhaps it depends on how you define integrated.

Intel trolls seeks Windows 8 apps

Intel is running App Innovation Contest 2013 that awards prizes for Windows 8 desktop applications. Unlike Windows RT, full Windows 8 that runs on x86 processors like Intel makes, so the company has a vested interest in creating attractive apps for the platform.

Authors of the top 125 proposed apps win Lenovo ThinkPad or Horizon All-In-One computers on which to code their applications. The best apps will be awarded a total purse of $100,000 in a competition that will include contestants from China, India and Russia.

Prizes of $10,000 will be given out for best apps in the categories of entertainment, games, healthcare, education, finance and retail. A $10,000 prize will be given out for best laptop app and a $10,000 prize for best all-in-one app. The overall grand prize for best app is $20,000. There is a $5,000 pool for spot prizes throughout the competition.

Microsoft seeks Windows 8 apps

Microsoft itself is trying to drum up developers to make apps designed specifically for Windows 8's touch interface with a points program.

Called App Builder Rewards the program offers up points for those who complete certain tasks:  join the program, 1,000 points; attend online instructional events, 1,000; attend in-person events, 1,000, follow @MSDev on Twitter, 100 points; anniversary bonus, 5,000 points once per year; complete quest activities such as a personal profile or application details, 50 points each.

Points can be cashed in for Xbox games, an upgrade to Windows 8 Pro and a one-year Windows Store and Windows Phone 8 developer accounts.

Windows 8 apps lag those for Apple

According to user-interface development firm Infragistics the U.S. Windows Store has only 46 Windows 8 versions of the 100 most popular apps that are available for iOS devices. By contrast, 96 of those apps are available for Android devices.

The survey counts only official apps as opposed to equivalent apps. So a Pinterest app made by Pinterest would count; a Pinterest app made by somebody else would not.

Soccer players kick off Microsoft zone at Best Buy

When Best Buy opened a new Windows section of one of its Los Angeles stores, its low key, low budget promotional theme was centered on soccer.

The prizes included chances to meet Clint Mathis, who retired from Major League Soccer in 2010, and Mauricio Cienfuegos, a retired Salvadoran soccer player. Also part of the giveaway, two tickets to an L.A. Galaxy game and an autographed soccer ball.

Tim Greene covers Microsoft and unified communications for Network World and writes the  Mostly Microsoft blog. Reach him at and follow him on Twitter@Tim_Greene.

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