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Is Microsoft merging Windows RT into Windows 8 for "Blue" update?

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March 27, 2013

A new report states that Microsoft is set to fold Windows RT into the first big update to ...

A new report states that Microsoft is set to fold Windows RT into the first big update to Windows 8

Microsoft’s Surface Pro makes sense for customers. It takes the power – and app support – of an Ultrabook, and combines it with the body of a tablet. Windows RT tablets, on the other hand, make a lot less sense. Limited app support and confusing incompatibility with legacy Windows apps make them niche products. If a new report holds any water, Microsoft realizes this and is ready to pull the plug on Windows RT products.

According to the sometimes reliable DigiTimes, Microsoft will no longer launch Windows RT products, and is planning on merging the ARM-based platform into the first big update to Windows 8, codenamed “Blue.”

A recent leak of the Blue update included (according to MSFTKitchen) references to Windows RT, suggesting that Microsoft is continuing work on the struggling platform.

The DigiTimes report is scant on further details, apart from reiterating the obvious reasons for the platform’s commercial failure (which we already outlined above).

“Merging” or “killing?”

If accurate (a big if), the report sparks at least as many questions as answers. It doesn’t state that Microsoft is killing Windows RT altogether, only that it “will no longer launch products under its Windows RT line.”

Though OEMs have released their own RT devices, Microsoft’s only RT product is Surface RT. Taking DigiTimes' words literally, it only says that there won’t be a sequel to that store-shelf-dust-collecting tablet.

As for merging Windows RT into the Blue update, that's a bit more confusing. ARM-based Windows devices can't run x86 apps, so how could the two platforms “merge?” Was DigiTimes merely referring to a change in branding? Is "merging" a way of saying that Microsoft will still offer limited support for OEMs' RT devices, but isn't placing it in its own plans? Or does it simply mean RT is dead?

Questionable, but logical

Before we get too carried away, let’s remember that this report could very well be completely bogus.

Whether there’s any truth to it or not, though, the future doesn’t exactly look bright for Windows RT. It's a bold attempt to make up for Microsoft's lost ground in mobile, but it may have come too late to the party. With its sparse app selection, customers don't have enough incentive to buy RT tablets over iPads and Android tablets.

We reached out to Microsoft for comment, but they declined due to a policy of "not commenting on rumors and speculation" ... which is indeed all this is at this point.

Source: DigiTimes

About the Author
Will Shanklin Will Shanklin is Gizmag's Mobile Tech Editor, and has been part of the team since 2012. Will has a Master's degree from U.C. Irvine and a Bachelor's from West Virginia University. He currently lives in New Mexico with his wife, Jessica.
  All articles by Will Shanklin
4 Comments

Ultrabooks more practical than Surface,as ultrabooks got proper keyboard, ergonomics on lap, more storage, GPU+

Ultrabooks got it all, portability, performance & good looking

Khaled Mourad
28th March, 2013 @ 12:13 am PDT

Khaled -- Ultrabooks have all of that, but they don't have the "right" price for the segment of consumers that the Surface RT was aimed at. If more systems like the Iconia w510 are released at the current sale price on MS website ($399) then we might be getting somewhere.

Ben Hammond
28th March, 2013 @ 08:15 am PDT

You got all that from a very brief couple paragraphs of "sources" on Digitimes?

I think it'd be helpful to understand the difference between Windows 8 and Windows RT. Effectively they're the exact same OS, just RT has certain features disabled or locked down and there's a layer of abstraction added that differs for which processor each is run on.

Windows 8 runs on traditional x86 based Intel processors. Traditional windows applications have all been specially compiled (the process of turning computer code into computer instructions) to run on these processors.

Windows RT is a version of Windows 8 which runs on ARM based processors. Any traditional applications that are compiled to run on ARM could also run on Windows RT. Search for "Windows RT Jailbreak" and you'll discover that there are numerous traditional windows applications which have been compiled to run on ARM.

The major distinction is that Microsoft could have offered backwards compatibility from day one but what they instead chose to do is restrict it and only offer Office. The reason they did this is that ARM processors are less powerful and traditional applications don't manage usage very well so its a risk to battery life.

Saying that the two operating systems will merge shows that you completely miss the point. The two operating systems already merged, that's what Windows 8 is. All of Microsoft's development platforms are geared towards the new "Windows Store" or "Metro" programming model which works on both Windows RT and Windows 8 because they're the same.

Microsoft could reduce focus on producing or promoting ARM based products but Windows RT itself is unlikely to go anywhere because effectively it's the same as Windows 8.

Denis Pitcher
28th March, 2013 @ 11:05 am PDT

I'm pretty sure that the author of this article knows the rather obvious technical distinction between W8 and W RT that you endeavor to explain so mouthfuly.

To say that the two platforms are really one is really downplaying the fact that applications that run on W8 are not available for RT, whatever the reason.

Apps that run well for Ubuntu x86 runs mostly as well for Ubuntu ARM version although as you say ARM is a lot weaker than x86. That is why you need the Windows Blue (or whatever) that is really efficient enough (not the bloated hell that MS Windows of whatever version really is) to run well on both ARM and x86. That would be the true unification.

Dr.Smart
29th March, 2013 @ 02:04 am PDT
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