Windows ARM Software News
It was big news when Microsoft announced it was working on a version of Windows that would run on tablets with ARM-based processors… but by the time Windows RT actually launched it was a lot less exciting. Devices like the Microsoft Surface and Surface 2 couldn’t run desktop Windows apps and weren’t significantly cheaper than Intel Atom-powered tablets running the full version of Windows, and they didn’t even get better battery life.
When Microsoft announced that Windows 10 would be available as a free upgrade for Windows 7 and 8.1 devices, owners of those devices running Windows RT were understandably frustrated by the news that they would not be offered an upgrade path to the new OS. Instead, the company released Windows RT 8.1 Update 3 in September, adding a Windows 10-style Start menu for those devices, but little else.
It would appear that the rumors of Windows RT's demise have been greatly exaggerated. The dead OS is showing signs of life as Windows 10 RT. Windows RT, announced and released in 2012, was designed to bring Windows to ARM based processors. User adoption was extremely low, as the OS looked exactly like Windows 8; however, it was only able to run apps that were available in the Store, as well as Office RT, which came preinstalled.
When Windows RT launched in conjunction with Windows 8 in 2012, the operating system ran on ARM-based devices with desktop program support only for software that Microsoft bundled, like a version of Microsoft Office. Because of RT’s inability to user-install Win32 programs, and for a number of other reasons, the operating system failed to catch on. Microsoft's last RT device, the Surface 2, launched in 2013.
A while ago, Microsoft released Windows RT for devices with ARM chips. Windows RT wasn’t successful for the company, and existing Windows RT devices didn’t receive the Windows 10 upgrade either. Now, it seems like Microsoft isn’t done with Windows on ARM chips.
Microsoft has delivered improvements to its version of the Windows 10 platform for small, low-cost devices like the Raspberry Pi 2 single-board computer, making it officially available for commercial hardware developers to use at the same time.
Late yesterday Microsoft pushed several optional updates to devices running Windows RT 8.1 and one of those updates, KB3033055, is what delivered the Windows 10 style Start Menu to those still on Windows RT 8.1 devices.
"What Intel giveth, Microsoft taketh away". That was the mantra my colleagues and I adhered to when I was leading Intel’s PC benchmarking efforts in the early 2000s. As the resident "HOC" (Highly-paid Outside Consultant) to the company’s Desktop Architecture Labs (DAL), my job was to help Intel’s engineers design the most complex desktop runtime environments possible for the purpose of showcasing the performance advantages of each new PC chip generation.
Windows RT devices, such as the Surface RT and the Surface 2, won’t get an upgrade to Windows 10, but instead Microsoft has been working on an update that brings some of the features of the new OS on these old tablets.
As announced several months ago, Windows 10 was designed to tackle more than just PCs, tablets, and smartphones, so today the company has introduced a slimmed-down version of the operating system that's designed to run on Internet of Things devices.
If you are a Windows developer, you will surely have heard Microsoft's new pitch: build Universal apps. The idea is that you can run your apps on any of the company's platforms with changes needed only to the UI, not to the underlying code base. But, if you are a Windows RT user, Universal apps signal the end of the road for your device.
A few weeks ago, I exclusively revealed that Windows RT 8.1 Update 3 would introduce the Start Menu to Windows RT devices, and with it bring a few other minor additions. Today, Microsoft has confirmed that the Start Menu is indeed coming in Update 3, along with improvements to the lockscreen.
Windows RT doesn't seem to have a future in Microsoft's lineup, but after Redmond's marketing push to convince buyers to get tablets running this OS, the company cannot simply give up on the platform and stop supporting it.
Although all improvements brought by Windows 10 won’t be available for Windows RT, the tablet-oriented operating system is set to receive an update sometime soon that would include some functionality introduced by the new operating system, such as the old Start menu.