Windows RT And The Incompatibility Chaos

by Gaurav Kheterpal on November 5, 2012

Some companies never learn from their mistakes. Microsoft made a strategic blunder when it announced that Windows Phone 7 users will not be able to upgrade to Windows Phone 8 and it seems the company is all set to repeat the incompatibility horror story in the tablet segment as well.

For all of Bill Gates’ tall claims about Microsoft Surface being a game changer, questions continue to be asked over the value proposition of Windows 8. To make matters worse, reports suggest that Windows RT, the new operating system behind Microsoft Surface tablet, is not backwards compatible, so any of your existing desktop apps won’t port to this environment anytime soon.

To be honest, there seems to be no serious effort from Microsoft to educate users on the differences between Windows 8 and Windows RT, let alone talk about the compatibility issues. Some are already dubbing Windows Surface RT as ‘Microsoft’s greatest hardware fiasco ever‘ while others are predicting that app incompatibility could be a ‘buzzkill‘ for Surface.

So, what’s the difference between Windows and Windows RT? The biggest difference is target hardware – Windows RT only runs on ARM-powered devices, while Windows 8 only runs on x86 devices. Though both these OS use the new Metro interface, but Windows 8 can also drop down to the traditional Desktop for older apps. However, when it comes to the all important software and application support, Windows RT doesn’t get everything you’ll find in Windows 8. To summarise, you’ll have to look deep and hard to find a reason to adopt Windows RT.

Last month, several companies including Hewlett-Packard and Dell published compatibility lists of printers and multifunction devices for the upcoming Windows 8 and RT tablet OSes, with a large number of models listed as bring incompatible with Windows RT.  More importantly, the Windows RT version of the Surface tablet does not come with Outlook, nor can it be installed on it later. This is because the Windows RT version uses a different type of processor (ARM) for which Outlook hasn’t been developed. Currently, there are no plans announced to make Outlook compatible with Windows RT either. Even Google’s Windows 8 search app does not seem to be compatible with Windows RT, thereby raising serious concerns over the platform’s usability.

Unsurprisingly, several manufacturers such as Acer have already delayed the launch of its Windows RT tablets following mixed reviews for Microsoft’s own Surface device owing to paucity of compatible software.

It’s an interesting situation as in the past, Microsoft has poked fun over the fragmentation chaos in the Android ecosystem. However, given its current situation, the Surface tablet could suffer the same fate as the Android tablets, which had similar app compatibility issues and resulted in many consumers returning them. What do you think? Please leave your opinion by leaving a comment.

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Written by: Gaurav Kheterpal. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.comby:RSS,TwitterFacebook, or YouTube.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Sasha S November 6, 2012 at 1:40 pm

You have no idea what you are talking about. Do some actual research before posting articles and passing judgement.

Current Surface running Windows RT is based on ARM architecture and that’s why it’s not compatible with any programs written for x86 type environment (what your current computer uses)
Smart people are waiting for Surface Pro that will run an Intel i5 chipset compatible with all old programs.

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