Do you know the difference between Windows 8 and Windows RT?

by: Simon HillOctober 18, 2012


The release of Microsoft’s big assault on the tablet market is fast approaching. The Surface tablet is going on sale in a little over a week, but you can pre-order the Surface RT right now. Microsoft has trumpeted Windows 8, along with Windows Phone 8, as the realignment of its range to present a familiar experience across devices. So, what is the difference between Windows 8 and Windows RT?

According to an article in The Verge yesterday many sales reps in Microsoft Stores don’t understand the difference, so what’s the chance that consumers have a handle on it? They called and spoke to eight different reps who gave them an assortment of answers about the limitations of Windows RT when compared to Windows 8.

Windows RT is semi-skinned to Windows 8’s full-fat. It is essentially a stripped down version of Windows 8 designed to run on the tablets. It looks the same, but it is not capable of doing everything that Windows 8 can. When it comes to apps, Windows RT can only run apps from Windows Store. It cannot run “legacy apps” or x86 / x64 software. You can’t install apps on the desktop and you can’t copy over any apps that you have on your Windows 8 PC. If you want an app on your Surface RT you have to buy and install it from Windows Store.

Microsoft has responded by saying it will train its Microsoft Store employees before the launch on October 26. The best way to avoid any confusion is to buy an Android tablet instead.

  • patch

    i saw what you did there. :D

  • Ahmed Al Akkari

    Exactly, buy an Android tablet & have peace of mind.

    • Guest

      Personally, I think it’s just a way for the Windows brand to play catchup – to ‘increase market share’.

      From the consumer’s point of view, there’s no compelling reason to actually have an RT version…seeing as it’s got damn-near the exact functionality (or lack thereof) as an Android tablet. Maybe if it’s of superior quality to the best of Android tablets.

      If Microsoft achieves this, unless there’s a desktop ARM processor/SoC prompting major software companies to release ARM versions of their products, compatibility for ARM devices probably won’t turn up in any meaningful way on Windows 9 tablets…

      • Kassim

        Wow…when you delete a comment, you only delete your name from it?!

        That’s inconvenient, Disqus…

  • AndroidVesti

    Let’s first see how the RT performs and then call names :)

  • Sandor Trinder

    20 Gbyte operating system….
    :) :) :)

    • Nick Kowalski


  • DeadSOL

    “he best way to avoid any confusion is to buy an Android tablet instead.” LOL!!!! :D

  • olbp

    Yes, I know the difference: RT devices cost 2 x what they should, and Pro devices cost 4 x what they should. See? Simple.

  • Nick Kowalski

    How are the limitations in RT any different than those in
    iOS, or Android for that matter. None of these devices are going to allow the
    user to install desktop software. RT is Microsoft’s iOS. I have been reading
    crap like this for the past few weeks and cannot understand why the limited
    functionality in RT has been in the crosshairs of writers. Secondly, how are
    the devices overpriced? If it is good quality hardware a $500 tablet isn’t that
    expensive. I mean I remember when android tablets first hit the market they were
    selling for $700-800, or more. As far as the extra money for the
    keyboard/cover, Apple charges $69 for a leather cover. Get over it.

    If any of this is somehow confusing to you, I doubt you are
    capable of making the $500 bucks to buy one in the first place.

    • krayziehustler

      Surface Pro willallow you to install any desktop program. The PRO version is a full desktop OS which is something that iOS/Android can’t say.

  • “The best way to avoid any confusion is to buy an Android tablet instead” LOL epic comment! xD

  • 321pats_fan

    why would you get a android tablet when most of the new tablets don’t even come out with the newest version of android on them, and will not even be able to upgrade them that is almost as dumb as buying an ipad.