When Microsoft launches Windows 8 on Oct. 26, Redmond and its partners will begin selling Windows RT hardware at the same time. What Microsoft hasn't really communicated is that Windows RT is essentially a separate operating system with different features, quirks, benefits, and limitations.
RT is still somewhat of a mystery; OEMs have allowed reviewers to play around with RT tablets that they've showed off at trade shows like IFA, but formal reviews will have to wait. Will there be a deluge of Windows RT reviews before the hardware launches, or will consumers just have to figure it out on their own? It's a great question, and one that hopefully will be resolved soon.
But the bottom line is that Windows 8 apps won't necessarily run on Windows RT. RT apps will have to be downloaded from the Microsoft Store, which isn't nearly as onerous as one might have thought a few years ago: Apple's own app store takes the same tack. But how many apps, and the quality of those apps, is an open question. It may be that users simply don't care. It seems like the majority of time consumers spend on a PC is connected to the Internet, anyway, so that all a Windows RT user is going to want will be a Web browser. For those who want to edit video or perform CAD renders, there's always Windows 8. But Microsoft has positioned Windows RT as a consumer operating system, anyway, so those concerns may be minor. We certainly know that Microsoft has priced the Surface tablet with Windows RT at $499, which some have deemed too expensive.
In any event, here are several things you'll need to know if you're considering Windows RT.
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