Windows RT - Why it's crucial and its success underpins Windows 8 and Mobile efforts in general.
Firstly I would like to say that people who question the necessity for Windows RT and its role are pretty much computer hardware/ software illiterate and are suckers for sensationalist techblog articles that I can only think purposefully ignore the obvious.Now that we got that out of the way, lets provide a dumbed down, easy explanation of what Windows RT is and why its success or failure is intertwined with Windows 8, that is, if Windows RT fails so does Windows 8. They should make this post a sticky for the dozens of why Windows RT posts that come up here.
There are two main reasons for why Windows RT is as important and even more so going forward for Microsoft.
1. Windows RT is there to expose the new runtime and only the new runtime that Microsoft bet the house on and intends to be the primary pillar of both its consumer facing products and eventually even enterprise facing.
The WinRT runtime that is responsible for hosting/executing the sandboxed Windows store apps and new start screen based environment, WinRT is really the only thing that differentiates Windows 8 from Windows 7. Enter Windows RT, which is there to essentially expose WinRT, hence the name "Windows RT". The castrated desktop and ported Win32 library and runtime is of course only a temporary solution that Microsoft deemed necessary to implement in order to sell Windows RT with Office, this was erroneous I believe, but that's another story. The fact remains that Windows RT is there to let consumers interact with WinRT, around which Microsofts consumption platform and respective mobile oriented efforts are entirely centred around. Hence if WinRT won't eventually be able to attract consumers and warrant a purchase on its own (sold as Windows RT) you can safely say that Windows 8 and RT failed in what they were set out to do.
2. ARM as an architecture can be implemented easier and chips manufactured for far cheaper than Intels x86, in addition to being cheaper it's also still a lot more power efficient (Windows is yet to tap into it) and chips based on it are manufactured by many vendors (no vendor lock in).
Like it or not Intel will probably never match ARM on price, it's expected that ARM processors capable of powering a modern OS will go down in cost to around a single dollar or less by 2020. We are talking about these things powering everything from E-ink paper thin billboards to toilet mirrors/screens, consumed by everything etc. They are cheaper and getting cheaper by the year. Cheap and good enough for the job is dangerous combination that's almost impossible to compete with and Microsoft understands that and cannot simply ignore the architecture that is due to dominate "if not already" everyday computing. No matter how power efficient and powerful Intels chips get odds are it won't match ARM on price and hence will be applicable to whole other category and won't compete across all price points and applications.
When OEM's talk Windows RT down they are talking down Microsofts own device efforts and nothing else.
Sure, Windows RT/WinRT on its own today are not enough to attract the bulk of traditional PC buyers who usually want to run Win32 apps for professional reasons and or PC gaming and hence sales of devices running Windows RT suffer, the desktop just adds to the confusion too. Also because the tablet\consumption computing oriented crowd does need to settle for 2nd, uhhm 3rd best in this respect and simply opt for the more mature consumption platform in iOS and Android. But OEM's have a double interest in publicly expressing their bleak outlook regarding Windows RT, for one it truly does not sell well for them, second, Microsoft is focusing the bulk of its device efforts around the OS, with the affordable surface RT line that will imminently at some point will start cannibalising traditional x86 PC sales. OEM's are looking forward, they understand they can't provide the brand power and halo device brand identity that a single device/product line centred marketing campaign by Microsoft can. Consumers are looking for iPad, Galaxy, Nexus , Surface, not Toshiba Satellite Power Pro 800 or Samsung ATV Smart PC. Hence It is in the interest of OEM's to stifle any of Microsofts own device efforts.
Lastly Win32 and Windows Desktop respectively are useless for the future going forward.
Bulky, legacy filled libraries, bogged down by registry rot, installation wizards, malware, browser highjackers,absence of advanced application suspension/sleep capability and background execution when device sleeps (ARM chips are optimised/designed for this feature) you get the drift. It's simply not applicable to be on the new generation of devices going forward, at least not in its current form. It can power the enterprise and what not, but everyday consumers have loudly said f**k off.
In layman terms:
Windows RT = WinRT
Windows 8 = Windows 7 + WinRT
Windows 8 - Windows 7 = WinRT
Windows RT objectives == Windows 8 objectives.
Long story short. Most important part of Windows 8 is Windows RT.