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The curious case of Windows RT

Windows-RTDuring its big event on 01/21 Microsoft talked a lot about upcoming Windows 10, which should unify Windows on phones, tables, laptops and hybrid devices. There were in-depth presentations about Windows on phones and Windows on desktop. But there is one flavor of Windows which was suspiciously absent from the event – Windows RT. When Microsoft was asked if there will ever by Windows 10 RT they answered that Windows RT devices will be updated to give them some features of Windows 10, but they never mentioned if there will be a true Windows 10 RT. I guess the answer is negative.
Microsoft first introduced Windows  8 RT in late 2012 alongside Windows 8 Pro. Windows 8 RT was a version of Windows for ARM devices. It was somewhat similar to its “big brother” – Window 8 Pro, with one gaping exception – it didn’t support legacy (i.e. non Windows Store) applications. This exception is very understandable: it’s hardly possible to emulate x86 architecture on ARM. However, customers never truly accepted this daring new OS and Windows RT devices (from which were most well know Microsoft’s own Surface and Surface 2) never sell well. I think the biggest problem with Windows RT was marketing – it was marketed as Windows, devices looked like Windows computers and yet it wasn’t able to run familiar Windows software. A very confusing marketing.
I think it’s a pity that Windows RT never took off.  With this OS Microsoft tried to take clean slate approach to OS, cutting all legacy APIs. Although this approach somewhat limited OS potential, it also give this OS an advantage over its “big brother”.
– because Windows RT doesn’t support legacy application, it’s also immune against viruses and malware. Windows Store applications are securely sandboxed, Windows store is curated by Microsoft.
– Windows RT is super fast to boot up and wakes up in a fraction of a second. Yes, because it very light. I have Windows RT Surface and at times it’s faster than my Intel core 7 Windows 8.1 laptop.
– Windows RT devices can run on a low power devices, thus giving the case for a long battery life.
I think Windows RT should not be compared to Windows Pro. In fact, its natural competitor is … Chrome OS. Chrome OS is a very limited OS it’s nature, it’s just a web browser, but by giving away the features Chrome OS gained a lot of agility. For customers who can get by using only web application, it’s all that they need. In return, Chrome OS is offering good performance of cheap hardware and long battery life… just like Windows RT! In my opinion, Windows RT have a significant edge over Chrome OS though: it can run every web application, but it also can run native Windows Store application. For games, for example, native application will always beat a web-based one.
I hope Microsoft will find a case for Windows RT and will not sunset it.

2 thoughts on “The curious case of Windows RT

  1. I think Windows 10 “mobile” – whatever the specific packaging ends up being – will be the “upgrade” Windows RT devices need…

  2. Stan Tarnovskiy

    I agree, that’s possible, Mike. But that that will mean that “desktop” mode (even as limited as it is) will have to go.

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