Windows RT – Same, Same, but Different?

The initial reaction when it was made known that Windows would also be available for ARM processors was that this was a good thing both as a competing offering versus the traditional x86 stronghold, and ARM having a good track record when it came to CPUs not requiring a lot of power and thus being able to run for hours on battery power.

When Microsoft said that it might be a bit different from regular Windows people became more suspicious and it didn’t take long before many labeled it as a crippled Windows. While the 32- and 64-bit builds of Windows 8 were being made available as public betas early on this didn’t happen with the ARM-edition so it was difficult to make up one’s mind before release. (Not that the software being available would have helped without hardware to back it up.) Originally it was called Windows on ARM (WOA), but a couple of months prior to release it was rebranded as "Windows RT". (Note that it’s not to be confused with WinRT/Windows Runtime which is the application framework for all Windows 8 editions, including Windows Phone.)

With the arrival of the Surface RT from Microsoft themselves, as well as ARM-based options from OEMs it’s finally possible to actually get a feeling what it’s all about.

I’ve read a couple of the reviews online on both Windows RT in general and more specifically the Surface RT in particular, and I guess you could call the reactions mixed. Both "love it" and "hate it" has been observed. Some of the grievances and/or praise concerns the operating system, and some of it the hardware itself. I’m not going to try to give yet another full on review of either one of the RTs, but I thought I’d try to sort some things out.

The title of this post is "same, same, but different". And that is the feeling I get with Windows RT. It’s Windows, but it feels slightly different than it used to.

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