By now you’d all know that I’m onto a Surface 3 which naturally has full Windows 8. I’m sure this upgrade path is common for Windows RT users. But I’d like two minutes on the soapbox being (as it appears) a lone voice in support of the Windows RT project.
Windows RT was more than adequate for my needs while I had the Surface 2. I never expected it to be a full version of Windows and I didn’t need that; I needed a lightweight portable device with a browser and MS Office, and with the alternative being a heavier and pricier Surface 2 Pro, the Surface 2 with Windows RT was the best choice for me. I didn’t expect it to run desktop apps, because I knew it couldn’t. I didn’t expect 100% driver compatibility, because I knew Windows RT to Windows 7 was like iOS to OSX. Two different beasts for two different purposes.
Microsoft evidently wanted to make a device which could be competitive (on some levels) with the iPad, but back when they started this project (well before the release in 2012) low power x86 CPU’s like the Cherry Trail didn’t exist and weren’t even on the horizon. That this is correct is born out that the ‘right’ hardware didn’t come along until three years after the original device released. The x86 hardware available to Microsoft at the time meant a Surface Pro-like device with its weight, heat and battery drain, and no-one looking for an iPad was ever going to go for that. So their next best option was Windows RT, a stripped-down OS specifically designed for a range of CPU’s which DID have the low power architecture they wanted, i.e. the ARM range.
It’s easy to stand here in 2015 and lambast Microsoft for Windows RT, but at the time I think it was an entirely logical decision to write a version of Windows which gave people some of the features and interface they were used to in a low-power, slim package.
Would they do anything different in hindsight? No doubt; it’s been far from a blazing success and I’m sure they’ve learnt a few things in terms of timelining and marketing. But in 2012 I think Windows RT was the right decision. Equally I think its time is done now the hardware is at a stage where devices like the Surface 3 are possible.
Thanks for the work you did, Windows RT. You served a valuable purpose at the time, but I suspect you won’t be missed.