What is Windows RT?


Windows 8 and Windows RT may appear similar at first glance, but they have several key differences in functionality and purpose. This has led to confusion among consumers and mixed reviews for Windows RT. In this article, we will explore the unique features of Windows RT, its limitations, and its place in the market.

Understanding Windows RT

Windows RT, which stands for “runtime,” is optimized for speed and aims to maximize battery life. It shares the same visual design as Windows 8 but operates differently. One major distinction is that only Windows Store apps designed specifically for RT can run on it. This is because RT was developed for 32-bit ARM architecture, unlike Windows 8, which runs on x86 systems. As a result, RT is more akin to Apple’s iPad iOS or Google’s Chromebook OS than traditional versions of Windows.

To get a better understanding of the differences between Windows RT and Windows 8, check out this informative video:

Windows RT vs. Windows 8


Windows 8 can be purchased as a standalone operating system for $119.99USD, with a Pro version available for $199.99 and a Student version for $69.99.

On the other hand, Windows RT cannot be purchased separately. It only works on devices with ARM processing chips, so users must find a device that comes with RT pre-installed. For example, Microsoft’s 32GB Surface 2 runs on Windows RT and is priced at $449.00.

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Feature Comparison: Windows 8 vs. Windows RT


Both Windows 8 and Windows RT feature Microsoft’s new tiled design known as Metro. However, Windows 8 allows users to switch to a “desktop mode,” while Windows RT lacks this functionality.

Battery Life

Windows RT is designed to deliver exceptional battery life. Its ARM processors are more power-efficient compared to Intel or AMD processors, enabling RT devices to last between eight and 13 hours on a single charge. In contrast, a Windows 8 device typically lasts for six to eight hours.

Web Browsing

Windows 8 users have the freedom to choose from various browsers like Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, and Mozilla Firefox. However, Windows RT limits users to Internet Explorer 11, as Microsoft has imposed restrictions on third-party browser development for the RT environment.

Document Creation

Every Windows RT device comes with Office 2013 Home & Student RT, which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and Outlook (since Windows RT 8.1). Windows 8, on the other hand, supports the full Microsoft Office suite and other document and email software that RT does not.

Both operating systems allow users to access web-based document applications like OneDrive or Google Drive.


Windows 8 includes pre-installed apps such as Windows Media Player and Windows Media Center. Additionally, users can install various third-party music and video players like iTunes, VLC, and Winamp.

While Windows RT does not support Windows Media Player or Windows Media Center, it offers Xbox Music and Xbox Video apps. However, popular third-party applications like iTunes, VLC, Winamp, and Adobe Photoshop are not available on RT. Users can still enjoy web-based music services like Pandora, Spotify, or Amazon MP3.

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Windows 8 provides excellent support for PC gaming, allowing users to play the latest video games with modern hardware. In comparison, Windows RT, designed for tablets, lacks extensive gaming support. It offers only casual mobile games available in the app store, without big-name games developed for RT devices.


Windows 8 can be installed on most modern computers with storage requirements ranging from 16GB (32-bit) to 20GB (64-bit). Users can easily expand storage by adding a second hard drive or using external drives.

Windows RT, being closely tied to the device, differs in terms of storage. For example, half of the 32GB Surface 2’s storage is dedicated to the Windows RT installation alone. Users can augment storage by utilizing micro SDXC storage slots or external drives.


  • Remote desktop software cannot be used to log into Windows RT systems from another PC. However, apps like TeamViewer can offer an alternative solution.
  • Some users have jailbroken Windows RT systems to run desktop applications, although this is not officially supported.

Windows 8.1 and Windows Update 1

In October 2013, Windows 8.1 was released to address bugs, enhance features, and improve usability. The update brought back the famous Start button for non-RT users and introduced a new version of Microsoft Outlook for Windows RT.

While Windows 8.1 received positive reviews, critics believed that many of its features should have been included in the initial release. Microsoft subsequently announced Windows 8.1 Update 1 in February 2014, which aimed to improve the interface for desktop users.

The Future of Windows RT

Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 adoption rates have been relatively slow. However, Windows RT has faced even greater challenges, with a minuscule 0.02% share of the global OS market. Microsoft incurred a substantial loss due to poor sales of the Surface RT, leading to substantial price reductions.

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Despite its limited success, elements of Windows RT may find their way into future versions of Windows, indicating that Microsoft may not entirely abandon the platform.


Windows RT differentiates itself from Windows 8 through its optimized performance, restricted software compatibility, and focus on ARM devices. While Windows RT has faced challenges in the market, its unique features serve a specific purpose within certain scenarios. As the tech landscape continues to evolve, it will be interesting to see how future versions of Windows incorporate aspects of RT.


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