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Microsoft drops ‘RT’ moniker from original Surface, hides desktop mode on new RT tablets

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Microsoft Surface RT hero (1024px)
Microsoft Surface RT hero (1024px)

Microsoft is altering its Surface RT name to just Surface today. After dropping the RT moniker for its Surface 2 tablet, the software maker is removing the RT branding on the Surface entirely. New product pages for Surface no longer mention Surface RT at all, just as the new Surface 2 and Surface 2 Pro tablets start to go on sale in 21 countries today. Microsoft confirmed the name change in a statement to The Verge. "To stay consistent with the naming structure of our new offerings, Surface RT is now referred to as ‘Surface,’" says a Microsoft spokesperson.

The name change is likely related to the confusing choice of using the RT moniker for Surface and Windows RT. Microsoft Surface product manager Jack Cowett recently admitted that the RT name was confusing for customers. "We think that there was some confusion in the market last year on the difference between Surface RT and Surface Pro," admitted Cowett in a recent interview. Microsoft originally released the Surface as "Microsoft Surface with Windows RT," but the company started referring to the tablet as Surface RT shortly afterwards.

Microsoft hides the desktop mode by default

Alongside the Surface name change, Microsoft is also removing the default desktop tile in Windows RT 8.1. New Windows RT devices will default to a Start Screen that does not contain the desktop tile, making it less easy to switch into the traditional desktop mode in Windows RT 8.1. Surface 2 includes this change, as does Nokia's new Lumia 2520 tablet. Removing the desktop altogether is the next logical step, but touch-friendly Office apps will need to arrive before Microsoft even considers that type of significant change.