Does the Many Different Kinds of Windows 8/RT Devices Cause Consumer Confusion?

Windows 8 does truly bring significant updates to the Windows world and also opens the door to many new devices, but does it also bring on plenty of confusion as well?

While many of the people reading this site likely have the knowledge and expertise to tell the difference between Windows 8, Windows RT, a tablet, a touch ultrabook, a touch notebook, a convertible and a hybrid – not everyone does.

Windows 8’s change in UI also introduces additional confusion and frustration.

As a consumer, Windows is Windows. That means that most consumers don’t really get Windows RT. Heck, I sometimes am not sure if I fully understand why it exists. I understand the importance of more compact designs, less weight and better battery life, but recent improvements to the x86 world has made this difference much less noticeable between ARM.

Consumers Aren’t Sure What to Buy

Alright, so a smart consumer can probably figure out that a tablet and touch laptop are different animals, but which should they buy? Additionally, they go and look at Windows tablets and prices range from $400 to $1000+. They don’t understand the difference between ARM, Atom and higher-end processors like i7.

To be fair, some of this confusion has always existed in the PC world, but it was less prominent in the tablet space. Most folks expected 7-inchers to be $250-$350, 10-inchers to be $350-$650. The scale with Windows 8/RT devices is a lot wider.

Retailers Are A Big Issue as Well

Microsoft’s tablet and device choice is a good thing, if not a little overwhelming. That said, it doesn’t have to be a barrier. Microsoft store staff and retail store staff should be able to direct a less tech-savvy individual through the process of finding a Windows 8-based device that meets their needs.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to be the case at many of the retailers carrying Windows 8 devices. While I never expect much knowledge from those in the electronics department of Walmart, major chains like Best Buy should be better trained to handle the questions and guide the consumer to the right choice.

I’ve been to several places like Best Buy and Staples and have found the staff education a bit lacking, though I will admit the Staples crowd seemed to know much more than the ‘help’ at Best Buy.


Not all of this is Microsoft’s fault of course, but it is clear that consumer education should have been handled better. For example, what if Microsoft would have created an easy “Which Device is Right for You?” program?

Such a program could be downloaded (or done via the net) on your existing machine, or perhaps done at a retail store kiosk running on a tablet or something. The program could ask “Will you use your machine for a) research & typing b) gaming c) light Internet use and entertainment, etc” and kept asking specialized questions until it gave you a Windows 8 device type that best meets what you are looking for and also gave you a “recommended price range” for said device.

Bottom-line, Windows 8 is a good OS and I applaud the team behind it. I’m not so excited or sure about the people behind the marketing though, whether Microsoft’s own marketing efforts or that of vendors and retailers.

What do you think? Share your thoughts below.

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