So with Microsoft’s not so elegant naming system, many consumers are sure to find themselves confused as to whether Windows RT is the same as Windows 8 or not. And with manufacturers releasing tablets for both the versions, things are only gonna get uglier. So what is Windows RT and how is it different from Windows 8? We’ll try to answer these questions and probably clear the mist surrounding the new OS.
Well, consider this. Suppose you happen to have two Apple products that you are very familiar with. One of them is a Macbook and the other one is an iPad. Now Macbook comes with OS X. That is the operating system for your regular laptop and computer. You can use the OS in any way you like. Go to a store buy some software and install it on your laptop and it’ll run fine as long as it is designed for your Macbook.
On the other hand, Apple iPad runs on iOS6. It is an OS with a closed environment. You can install apps only from the App store and softwares that work on your Macbook cannot be installed on the iPad. So basically, both these products run on different OS and have different apps designed for them which are not cross compatible.
Now let us come back to Windows operating system again. What iOS 6 is to Apple, Windows RT is to Microsoft. It is a completely new operating system designed to work on tablets with ARM processor (the non Intel ones, similar to the ones that you get in the tablets available in the market presently). And Windows 8 (on the Surface Pro) is a full fledged operating system just like your OS X or Windows 7 that is designed to run on laptops, computers and tablets with Intel( or AMD) processors.
So how are the two versions of the same OS different. Well for starters legacy apps that you’ve been using for all those years since you started using a PC won’t work on Windows RT. That includes Photoshop, AutoCAD, all your PC titles like Call of Duty, Need for Speed and basically anything that you use today. That doesn’t mean it won’t have applications at all. The apps that have been designed for Windows RT would be available in the Windows marketplace on your tablet and you can download them from there. Windows RT has a standard desktop mode( like the one we have in Windows 7 today) but unfortunately, it won’t allow you to install applications from a Pen Drive or any other source. It will be there just for the apps that come bundled with the OS (that is Office) and for file transfer and tweaking settings. However, that doesn’t anyhow mean that the USB devices that you’ve been using with your PC won’t be compatible in the RT version. You can throw any thing from a USB mouse, Flash Drive to a USB printer and they should all work flawlessly.
Coming back to Windows 8 (that would be available on Surface Pro), it is to Windows 7 what Windows 7 was to Vista; the next version of the OS. That means it is a fully functional OS that will support all your legacy apps and would work on tablets just like it would on any other PC. Yes that even means you would be able to play Call of Duty on your Surface Pro. It would allow users to install apps from any source (DVD, Pen Drive) and do whatever they usually do on a PC. And it also supports a traditional desktop mode just like the one we have today (in functionality that is).
So the question is, why bother with Windows RT when you can have Windows 8 on a tablet? To be frank, we don’t know either. Windows 8 obviously seems to be a better choice. However, it comes at a steeper price compared to Windows RT and you can expect tablets running Windows 8 to be at least $100 more expensive than their Windows RT counterparts. Battery life on the RT version could be better too, but that remains to be seen. Other than that we see no reason to go for the RT version instead of the Windows 8 version. That means we would prefer the Surface Pro over the Surface RT any day.