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Microsoft Comes Out in Defense of Windows RT

Microsoft Comes Out in Defense of Windows RT

But it’s really an admission from the company that the platform is about the future, not today

Microsoft this week took the rare step of defending its strategy of releasing Windows RT alongside Windows 8. But within this defense is a simple admission that mirrors what I’ve been saying about Windows RT all along: This is the platform of the future, not the platform of today.

I have no idea why Microsoft chose CNET to make its case for Windows RT. But looking at what Microsoft corporate vice president Michael Angiulo told the publication, I see some very familiar phrasing.

“[Windows RT] was a ton of work for us and we didn't do the work and endure the disruption for any reason other than the fact that there's a strategy there that just gets stronger over time,” he said. “Looking at things now like power performance and standby time and [fanless] form factors. When we launched windows 8, it was really competitive with a full-sized iPad. A lot of that was made possible by the ARM [chip] architecture.”

Looking at just these couple of sentences a few things stand out immediately:

Disruption. Windows RT is a revolution, not an evolution. That also means it’s not for everyone … for now.

The strategy just gets stronger over time. Windows RT is the future not the present. I’d word this one a bit different, in that I think the strategy only makes sense over time, and that Windows RT makes absolutely no sense for any customers today.

Power performance and standby time and [fanless] form factors. (Or is it power, performance standby time and [fanless] form factors”? We can’t be sure.) But these aspects of Windows RT are today all present in systems based on Windows 8 and the Atom “Clover Trail” platform, which has the added benefit of being 100 percent compatible with all existing Windows software and hardware, unlike Windows RT/ARM.

There’s more.

“I you look forward a year or two and you look at the performance output of ARM chips, those are some really capable chips,” Angiullo notes. “I think it has a very bright future.”

A really bright future. That could be. But looked at today, with the current generation of hardware, Windows RT just isn’t a viable option. It’s a terrible combination of underperforming hardware combined with a complete lack of compatibility with Windows software and hardware and a new, unproven platform. It’s a huge bet to ask users to make, as I’ve repeated many times. And while others are only now coming around to the notion that today’s Windows RT/ARM solutions can’t compete with Windows 8/Atom “Clover Trail,” I made that case over four months ago in Windows 8 Architecture Wars, Part 1: Clover Trail vs. ARM.

Nothing Angiulo tells CNET changes that central argument: Yes, the core benefits of “Metro” and the Windows RT experience—which is essentially that “pure” Metro experience—may be big advantages someday. But that assumes this platform becomes a lot more popular with users and developers. We’re still a ways from that.

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