How small is Windows RT’s market share? Blink and you could miss it.

Windows RT is the “light” version of Microsoft’s new Windows 8 OS, designed to operate on less powerful devices such as ARM-based tablets. It’s lower and price but also in functionality, only running applications available in the Windows app store.

According to tablet market share numbers from research firm IDC Corp., just 0.4 per cent of units shipped in the first quarter were running Windows RT. That compared to 56.5 per cent running Android and 39.6 per cent running Apple’s iOS. Microsoft’s full-fledged Windows 8 tablet OS, which can run any Windows desktop app, shipped on 3.3 per cent of devices.

In sheer numbers, of the 49.2 million tablets shipped in Q1, just 200,000 were running Windows RT.

It has to be a disappointing number for Microsoft. While it can point to (self-created) distribution issues with its own Surface and Surface RT tablets, those devices are now in wider retail availability. Also, Microsoft isn’t the only vendor shipping Windows RT tablets – Asus, Dell, Lenovo and Samsung all have devices on the market.

What does it mean for the future of RT. One analyst told ComputerWorld that Windows RT’s days as a separate OS could be numbered.

“I believe Microsoft would be much better off killing RT and going with one unified tablet OS [with Windows 8],” said Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates. “The need to support ARM [processors] was why Microsoft went with RT. But it never really worked that well.”

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