Windows RT – The new Windows OS

Posted on June 14, 2012


Windows RT, Microsoft Windows isn’t it? Well yes, but not as you know it.

Recent the press have played up the Google and Mozilla anti compete haranguing of Microsoft, despite regulatory authorities in the US and Europe paying little more than lip services to the complaints. All part of the game of brinkmanship as these vendors act like spoilt children seeing a new kid on the block wanting to come into the playground. And yes Windows RT is a new kid, it is not as Google and Mozilla would have people think relevant to the anti-compete responsibilities that Microsoft adheres to most stoically across its traditional desktop and server market space.

In time honoured fashion Microsoft nomenclature adds more than a little spice to getting ones head around the latest new technology from the greatest software factory on earth. It is Microsoft naming of this new technology, the use of ‘Windows’ that has allowed such un-newsworthy sabre rattling to get airtime. It is little more than obfuscation of what is a brave new foray by Microsoft into a market space of tablet and Uber specialist OS’s that it has little real experience in and is going where many have failed and are failing.

So I am going to give Windows RT a proud place alongside the ever growing list of confusing names Microsoft has adopted over the years alongside those old favourites:

· Explorer – Do you mean Internet Explorer or File Explorer?

· Exchange Hosted Services or did you mean Hosted Services for Exchange?

· IIS or IIS? (Internet Information Server or Identity Integration Server).

…….. Please add your own particular favourite and email me!

Yes Windows RT is NEW technology. Hmm… now I’m at it New Technology = NT, remember NT Server (versions 3, 3.5 and 4 from the ‘90’s) Yes that’s what the NT stood for and it is still referenced under the bonnet in code and some fiendishly persistent UI screens buried deep in Windows 2008 Server.

So Windows RT IS new technology but not NT. You with me!

New technology in that it will not run ANY legacy applications and requires a completely different development approach, except if you develop for the Windows Metro interface and there are some similarities, but we will come to Metro later.

Windows RT is different because it is designed exclusively for the ARM Processor and will not run on familiar WinTel hardware. Windows RT is designed exclusively for the new generation of Tablet based wafer thin, stratospheric 8+ hour battery life, new generation of portal devices. Yes to go head to head with the Apple iPad that has to-date enjoyed a competitive free landscape. Those days are coming to an end.

What about Android? Android on tablets is a mobile phone platform that has been somewhat bastardised to work on tablets and apart from its frighteningly poor security credentials (classing it as Malware in some security circles) it is still to achieve consistency in the Tablet space. It remains an example of why Apple has succeeded with iPad and many have failed with Android on Tablets. Apple have maintained an iron fist on development and access to the underlying hardware. Where Microsoft attracted the vitriol of Google and Mozilla where Apple have somehow gone un-blemished. For in this brave new world of Tablet OS’s there is an undeniable need for a degree of control that has been shown to be unacceptable to regulators on the Desktop and Server platforms.

Windows RT has had to forgo its big brothers (Windows Workstation / Server) legacy heritage and with good reason. To deliver to the mobile platform experience. It has had to step into the specialised space of an OS that needs to maintain strict disciplined controls over limited compute resources. Limited compute resources delivered by hardware designed to fine performance to power tolerances focusing on power management (battery life) first and foremost. Something Apple has been doing since iOS first emerged, and is no more than Microsoft is doing with Windows RT.

So to the Google and Mozilla’s of this world wanting to kick the big guy, well get your facts right first, because so far it simply comes across as sour grapes to those who understand what Windows RT really is.

For a great drill down on WindowsRT please see the interview with the venerable Steven Sinofsky ‘Windows 8 on ARM: Steven Sinofsky speaks’

The final word is still to be had on Windows RT. Whilst it is a brave move by Microsoft to extend onto a new platform and build out its Windows OS family, I have a suspicious feeling that the hardware may come to Microsoft’s traditional Windows desktop. Recent sneak previews of Tablet’s from Asus running full blown Windows 8 on Dual Core chips are starting to get close to the battery life and thin profiled hardware of the iPad generation. If I was to guess, I would hazard that in about 12 months’ time we will be seeing such devices which will beg the question why WindowsRT IF I can get full blown desktop features in the same hardware profile as todays iPad generation?