Microsoft has entered the tablet market with the Surface RT at the end of2012, but the story is far from over. Ever since the exact release date of the Microsoft Surface RT has been made official, the software giant has also announced that a more powerful version of the device will be made available in about 90 days.
Roughly 90 days have passed ever since and the launch of the Microsoft Surface Pro is just around the corner. With that in mind, we think that if you’re planning on buying either one of these two tablets, now it’s the right time to learn certain aspects regarding the software that powers them.
Windows RT can be described as a “lite” version of Windows 8 but it doesn’t really say much about the actual restrictions of the OS, so let’s take a closer look at what differentiates one from the other.
We’ve only mention the Microsoft Surface tablets because they sort of are “reference” devices. However, this comparison can be extended to a wide array of tablets and hybrids. Let’s take for example the Lenovo Ideapad Yoga series. The manufacturer has released two devices from the Yoga series: Yoga 11 running on Windows RT and Yoga 13 powered by Windows 8 (or Windows 8 PRO). Also a Windows 8 version of the Yoga 11 (the Lenovo Ideapad Yoga 11S) is being prepped for a June release date
The most confusing part about Windows RT and Windows 8 is the fact that both platforms share the same look. The user interface is very similar and you’d think that the RT version can do pretty much the same things as Windows 8. That’s actually not the case and if you were to buy a Windows RT-powered device thinking that it’s going to deliver a pure “desktop” experience, then you’d be in for a surprise.
The biggest difference that sets these two operating systems apart is that Windows RT is incompatible with your usual Microsoft software, and as such it cannot run “.exe” files. In layman’s terms, software that would usually be fully compatible with Windows XP, Vista, 7 or Windows 8 does not work on Windows RT, despite its familiar Windows-like user interface. Unlike Windows 8 which offers a “full desktop” experience, similar to previously launched OS iterations, Windows RT only supports those apps that are available for download in the Microsoft Windows Store.
This is something to consider if you intend on buying a Microsoft Windows RT running tablet/hybrid. Beyond the differences in price and hardware between Windows RT devices and Windows 8 ones, this really is a case of weighing the pros and the cons of the operating system.
As far as price, performance and other technical details go, as a rule of thumb, every Windows RT tablet/hybrid out there will be cheaper, have longer battery life and weaker performance when compared to one that’s running Windows 8. Why is that? Because Windows RT devices are being powered by ARM CPUs while Windows 8 only runs on devices with Intel-compatible processors.
Another thing to keep in mind is that Windows RT is not an OS that can be bought and installed on your regular PC or laptop. RT has been designed for mobile devices, mainly for the new range of Microsoft-powered tablets. In other words, if you are a desktop user and your intentions are to upgrade your PC to a new operating system, you can either buy Windows 8, or Windows 8 Pro, but never the RT version.
Now that you are more familiar with the latest platform from Microsoft, what are your plans regarding your PC and/or the possibility of buying a Windows RT tablet/hybrid? Would you rather pay extra for the full desktop experience offered by Windows 8, or do you consider the restrictions of Windows RT to be a fair trade for the lower price-tag and weaker specs (but longer battery life)? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
Vlad A. is the founder and chief editor of gforgames.com, a news centered website that aims at providing the latest news on the mobile market (be it Android, Windows or iOS). G4Games also creates interesting and insightful editorials, how-to articles and more. Aside from having a passion for everything mobile, Vlad loves games (on PCs, consoles, smartphones or tablets – without discrimination). That’s why, G4Games was initially centered almost exclusively around video-games (hence the title).