The new Windows operating system will be formally released in a matter of weeks. It will differ from previous Microsoft OSes in that it will be offered in two related, but different, versions: Windows 8 and Windows RT.
While RT and 8 are not identical twins, they are siblings born at the same time to the same parent -- and they have familial commonalities as well as individual differences.
No Longer 'Metro'
Both 8 and RT will use the design formerly known as Metro, an interface based around Live Tiles and optimized for touchscreens. This new style, a major emphasis of the new OS, has recently been renamed the Modern UI Style.
For those users still intent on keyboards and mice, both OS versions will still also offer a classic interface.
But in order to get a better foothold in the booming market of devices based on ARM processors, RT is designed specifically for those devices. This means that RT will not be able to run legacy, x86-based Windows apps, and will require apps specifically designed for RT. Windows 8 will run legacy apps.
According to the Redmond, Wash.-based technology giant, however, it would be incorrect to think of RT as a tablet OS. The reason for this is that Microsoft is promoting the idea of new ARM-based PCs, some of which might be in traditional laptop form factors, and some might be convertible, tablet/laptop hybrids.
In a post on the company's Developer Network Blogs earlier this month, for instance, the company noted that, since the release-to-marketing version was distributed on Aug. 1, "PC manufacturers have been using the released software to ready new PCs designed for Windows 8," including ones with full keyboards and touchpads.
It also goes the other way. Windows 8, which will show up on x86-based laptops and desktops, will also be found on Windows 8 tablets.
The difference between RT tablets and Windows 8 tablets is expected to be that RT is a direct competitor to Apple's iPad, and will be thinner and more power efficient than Windows 8 tablets. RT devices are also expected to sell for $200 to $300 less than equivalent Windows 8 devices. Win 8 tablets, however, are expected to be better prepared for environments.
RT tablets will come with Office 2013, with touch-optimized versions of the big four apps -- Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. However, it's not yet clear how extensive the feature set of this RT application suite will be. Office will not ship with Windows 8 devices, however.
Other differences are also emerging, such as those between the flavors of Windows 8 -- the consumer version, called Windows 8, Windows 8 Professional, and Windows 8 Enterprise.
RT will have persistent device encryption, for instance, while the various flavors of 8 will not. But 8 Pro will have advanced security features, such as the company's Encrypting File System. Win 8 Pro will also have Remote Desktop for remote control, while regular Windows 8, and Windows RT, will not.
S. Kyle Davis:
Posted: 2012-08-26 @ 6:51am PT
"Win 8 Pro will also have Remote Desktop for remote control, while regular Windows 8, and Windows RT, will not."
Wrong, actually. Win 8 Pro will be able to HOST remote desktop (meaning you can remote desktop into it). However, even Windows RT will be able to be a Remote Desktop CLIENT. This means that I can use a Windows RT tablet to tap into my desktop at work (which can host remote desktop).
Posted: 2012-08-24 @ 2:29pm PT
this is great