Microsoft's Sleeping Giant - Windows RT

"Windows RT is dead, long live Windows RT."

While some are predicting Microsoft's imminent demise over the "failed" launch of Windows 8, the disappointing sales of the Surface RT, and the general inability of Windows RT to run desktop apps besides Microsoft’s own, I personally feel that Microsoft has something really important in Windows RT.

You see, right now, Windows RT currently only powers low-end or consumer-grade tablets and hybrid notebooks. Now, you’ll probably think I’m crazy when you read my next sentence, but give it some thought and read on. I think that Windows RT needs to make the jump to both regular notebooks and desktop computers.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that I’m crazy. You’re thinking, probably, that I’m even a bit stupid. Some of you are probably even starting to mumble the words "paid shill" under your breath. But let me tell you: Windows RT on notebooks and desktops makes sense. Now, let me explain why.

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We’re entering an era where many—perhaps even most customers—don’t need the full power of current desktops and notebooks. What they need is access to the Internet, some basic word processing and financial applications, print capabilities, and maybe a game or two. Windows RT can provide these with ease. Because Windows RT runs on the ARM architecture, it’s possible for desktops to become very small machines. All-in-ones are already becoming common sellers—the iMac has gradually improved on the idea over the course of the last decade or so and PC OEMs are finally starting to figure things out.

Here’s my question: why don’t OEMs make Windows RT all-in-ones for low-end consumer, corporate, and educational use. How many offices truly need full-blown x86 applications to do their jobs anyway? Often between Microsoft’s office and web applications, many businesses would be set anyway. Sure, there would be special divisions of the company that would require more powerful devices—like the IT department and maybe a few of the higher-ups, but really isn’t all they need offered by RT anyway?

Because ARM boards are often so much smaller than their x86 brethren, I could see OEMs creating tablet-thin all-in-ones that offer the needed functionality without all the bloat. n fact, if they wanted to, television manufacturers could easily incorporate Windows RT on their TVs and use that as a selling point. Why buy a separate computer when your TV can serve as your desktop?


Windows RT is Right for the Average Consumer

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No, I’m not talking about you, frequenters of every tech site on the Internet—I’m not even talking about you, Mr. Anti-Microsoft Troll, I’m talking about people like my mum. I’ll admit—on frequent occasion I crack jokes at my mum for her rather silly purchase of a 27" iMac. Does she use Photoshop or Premiere or even Final Cut or iMovie?

Nope. She uses it for good ol’ Facebook. She has, sitting on her desk, a $2,000 Facebook machine. A Windows RT device would suit her perfectly—and would likely cost her considerably less.

Similarly, many other consumers would find that a Windows RT desktop or notebook would work very well for them. It would suit all their basic needs—and with the current flood of apps in the Windows Store—will shortly begin to fill even more complicated consumer needs.


Windows RT is Right for Education

When I was in high-school, it was very common for students to download games (Halo, in particular) of an FTP server, install it or use a ‘portable’ version of the game on a machine, and play when the teacher wasn’t looking. Now, I’ll admit, the teacher under whose supervision these students were playing was daft to say the least, but with Windows RT, such shenanigans would be more difficult. Access to the full Windows Store could be cut off easily, and the systems could be updated when necessary with Windows InTune.

Approved applications could be made available through the Company Portal application, so that it would be possible for teachers and students to access critical applications. School libraries could have RT desktops that would make it easy for students to use Microsoft Office, then print, and get off the machine.

Additionally, education-focused apps and the power of Kno and similar apps will enable students and educators to access digital copies of their textbooks from any Windows RT (and Windows 8, too) devices.

Related Article: Windows Intune (Microsoft)

Windows RT is Microsoft’s Answer to Chrome OS

A big fuss has been made about Google’s Chrome OS and the Chromebooks. Even I, just last semester in my Online Educators course was a pretty strong advocate for Chromebooks in schools. The idea behind Chromebooks is a good one—a low cost, Internet-connected device, that enables students to get critical tasks done all while being free of the problems of traditional Windows machines.

Sound familiar?

It ought to. This is one of the environment where a distinct lack of legacy software is a positive, rather than a negative. One of Google’s greatest selling points for its Chromebooks is the lack of malicious software available for the Chrome OS platform. Windows RT is likewise unaffected by the ails of traditional Windows—but still provides many of the benefits of traditional Windows in the process.

In Limbo

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We’re currently at a stage in which Microsoft’s Windows RT is little more than one more thing for Best Buy’s sales associates to get wrong. But it doesn’t have to stay that way—and I really hope it doesn’t. Apps are still flooding into the Windows Store, further strengthening what I hope will lead to the eventual explosion of consumer and mass market desktop and notebook hardware running Windows RT.

In many ways, Windows RT is Microsoft’s sleeping giant. When it awakes, it will cause quite a few disturbances—and will probably annoy a few power users along the way—but it will be a powerhouse in sales.