Windows RT: Understanding The New Mobile OS A Little Better

Windows Rt Metro Ui
Windows RT is the OS behind the upcoming tablets from Microsoft and it is time that you understood it a little better.

Windows RT: The OS Behind The Microsoft Tablet

Microsoft is rumored to be working on its own tablet. Whether that is true or not, it is true that Windows RT is going to be the main OS behind the myriad Windows 8 tablets that we are going to see in the market post the official launch of Windows 8 later this year. So here’s a quick guide to understanding the basics of Windows RT and how it is different from its regular counterpart.

ARM Architecure

Windows RT runs on ARM chips. These chips are designed to be more power efficient and are made with mobile devices in mind. These chips are designed by one company called ARM Holdings, which are then licensed and manufactured by several companies including Qualcomm (of the Snapdragon fame) and Apple (for their new A5, A5X chips).

No Commercial Sale

You cannot buy Windows RT. The same way you can’t buy iOS or Android. Windows RT is very much like a mobile operating system that users do not need to buy. This is simply because they are not supposed to be used installed on anything. Windows RT will be on devices that come with the OS always pre-installed such as tablets. Updates and new versions are usually pushed out by the manufacturer. Microsoft will be giving the OS directly to the manufacturers. So no user preview builds like the rest of Windows 8 either.

Windows 8 And Windows RT Are Different

Even though they will be made to look like they are part of the same unified platform, they are actually very different animals. They are different from at very core level where they have designed and built separately with separate use cases. The similarity is the Metro UI and Metro app support. Windows RT will not support current Windows 7 and older apps. It will also not support Windows 8 apps designed for the desktop.

However, Microsoft will release some chosen apps that will run on a restricted Desktop-like environment on Windows RT. This does not however mean that Microsoft is forcibly blocking out other apps. Common Windows 8 Applications, ones that are not made for Metro, will not be able to run on Windows RT without heavy modification at a very low level or some kind of compatibility layer such as WINE for running Windows apps on Linux. But since the processor architecture is different here, it will need virtualization which will emulate an x86 architecure (Intel and AMD).

Published: Tuesday, June 19th, 2012 Last Modified: June 19, 2012

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