What is Windows RT? How Does Windows RT Work?

What is Windows RT? How Does Windows RT Work? Windows RT is a mobile operating system developed by Microsoft. It is a version of Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 built for the 32-bit ARM architecture (ARMv7). First unveiled in January 2011 at Consumer Electronics Show, the Windows RT 8 operating system was officially launched alongside Windows 8 on October 26, 2012, with the release of three Windows RT-based devices, including Microsoft’s original Surface tablet. Unlike Windows 8, Windows RT is only available as preloaded software on devices specifically designed for the operating system by original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).

Microsoft intended for devices with Windows RT to take advantage of the architecture’s power efficiency to allow for longer battery life, to use system-on-chip (SoC) designs to allow for thinner devices and to provide a “reliable” experience over time. In comparison to other mobile operating systems, Windows RT also supports a relatively large number of existing USB peripherals and accessories and includes a version of Microsoft Office 2013 optimized for ARM devices as pre-loaded software.

However, while Windows RT inherits the appearance and functionality of Windows 8, it has a number of limitations; it can only execute software that is digitally signed by Microsoft (which includes pre-loaded software and Windows Store apps), and it lacks certain developer-oriented features. It also lacks support for running applications designed for x86 processors, which were the main platform for Windows at the time. This would later be corrected with the release of Windows 10 version 1709 for ARM64 devices.

Windows RT

What is Windows RT?

Most editions of Windows have been developed to work on x86 and x64 processor architectures, and for many years you could purchase either edition depending on your computer’s internal components.

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With the rise of mobile computing on smartphones and tablets, manufacturers began designing System on a Chip (SoC) circuits specifically for mobile devices. Some of the most popular SoCs use the 32-bit ARM architecture, leading Microsoft to choose this configuration for their Windows SoC support.

Windows 8 saw Microsoft overhaul the design of Windows, creating a new design language initially known as Metro but now formally called the Microsoft Design Language (MDL).

Windows 8 featured a new full-screen Start menu with touch-friendly tiles and the addition of the Windows Store, which contained downloadable apps written using Windows Runtime. These apps could run on x86, x64, and ARM architectures.

Behind the new Start menu on x86 and x64 devices was the traditional Windows desktop alongside some new features and a modified UI. Due to its restraints, Windows RT didn’t support traditional software, instead, it relied solely on the new Windows Store.

Which Devices Run Windows RT?

Microsoft traditionally doesn’t implement many controls on devices capable of running Windows but made an exception for Windows RT. The company worked closely with manufacturers and built to strict specifications to uphold a quality level across all Windows RT devices.

Due to this strict control, only a handful of Windows RT devices were ever released. They are:

  • Microsoft Surface
  • Microsoft Surface 2
  • Asus VivoTab RT
  • Dell XPS 10
  • Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11
  • Nokia Lumia 2520
  • Samsung Ativ Tab

How Does Windows RT Work?

The design and basic functions of Windows RT are similar to Windows 8 and Windows 8.1. When you first boot the device, the full-screen Start menu displays live tiles that update throughout the day.

The Start menu screen is customizable, allowing you to pin your favorite apps and resize their tiles. Swiping up from the bottom of the screen displays a list of all currently installed apps.

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Unlike regular editions of Windows 8, Windows RT only comes with a limited amount of software installed. All Windows RT devices include Office 2013 Home & Student RT, which initially included Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and OneNote. Outlook was added as part of the Windows 8.1 update.

While it’s possible to access the traditional desktop, there are few options once there. File Explorer and Office RT are the only supported applications in desktop mode. All other applications installed via the Windows Store use the Metro MDL interface.

Windows RT

The Future of Windows RT

The limited functionality of Windows RT devices meant they weren’t as popular as Microsoft hoped they’d be, and Microsoft’s manufacturing partners declined to create further devices. Not long after the release of Windows RT, Intel began developing x86 SoCs for Windows 8, reducing the need for ARM-based Windows RT.

Microsoft launched its final Windows RT device, the Surface 2, in October 2013 and discontinued it and Windows RT when stocks of the device ran out in January 2015. The company instead shifted its focus to their Surface Pro line of own-brand devices.

As Microsoft did not provide an upgrade path for Windows RT from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10, mainstream support for Windows RT ended in January 2018. However, extended support runs until January 10, 2023.

With Windows 10, Microsoft aimed to create one core edition of Windows that could run across all devices and architectures. However, they launched a spiritual successor to Windows RT in 2017, known as Windows 10 S. This edition of Windows 10 was also feature limited. It could only install apps from the Windows Store. Windows 10 S was discontinued in January 2018.

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Third-Party Application Restrictions

All third-party applications on Windows RT must be Metro applications, and Metro applications must go through the Windows Store and be approved by Microsoft. This means that a Windows RT device can only run Microsoft-approved applications, just like an iPad can only run Apple-approved applications.

This has implications for browser choice, too. On a Windows RT device, the Metro version of Internet Explorer has exclusive access to system APIs, which means Mozilla, Google, and others can’t develop their own browsers for Windows RT – both Mozilla and Google have raised concerns about this. If you use a Windows RT device, you’ll be using Internet Explorer – just like if you use an iPad, you’ll be using Safari. All third-party browsers for the iPad are shells around Safari, just like all third-party browsers for Windows RT will be shells around Internet Explorer.

Windows RT Is For “Devices”

Windows RT is clearly inspired by the iPad and it’s no coincidence that its restrictions mirror Apple’s. Microsoft envisions Windows RT computers as “devices,” not traditional PCs. You won’t be able to buy a boxed copy of Windows RT in stores – it’s only available pre-installed on ARM systems. Initially, these ARM systems will be a handful of Windows tablets, but there’s nothing stopping Windows RT from eventually running on laptop and even desktop computers with ARM chipsets.

Windows RT devices will be locked down in other ways, too. Microsoft mandates that Secure Boot on Windows RT devices isn’t user-configurable, so you won’t be able to remove Windows RT and install Linux or another operating system.

Windows RT

Above is information about What is Windows RT? How Does Windows RT Work? that we have compiled. Hopefully, through the above content, you have a more detailed understanding of Windows RT. Thank you for reading our post.

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