By: Will Claney
To the casual shopper one may have difficulty discerning the nuances between Windows 8 and Windows RT, but you really need to understand the difference between the two. They are not the same… or are they? Both look and feel similar but there is one very important distinction between the two. When shopping for computers, laptops, or smartphones this holiday season we want you to know the difference between the two because buying the wrong operating system (O/S) will have implications.
Windows 8 and Windows RT are the latest Microsoft release of their operating system and they look and feel the same. Some sales people may not know the difference and unintentionally blur the distinction and they could lead you to a wrong decision. The O/S, as it is known amongst geeks, is the primary piece of software that launches all applications, utilities, Internet browsers and other programs that people like to run. The way applications launch and how applications run is dependent on the O/S.
Perhaps the largest distinction for Windows 8 is support for legacy programs, those apps you already own, are likely to purchase from third parties, or ones you prefer for productivity and business. Those applications you have been running for years need support from the O/S so they can continue to work. If your legacy applications are already running on Windows XP or Windows 7 then, they will continue to run under Windows 8. But, they will not work under Windows RT.
It’s about legacy – those applications you already own or use
Perhaps the best way to remember the distinction between the two is to see Windows 8 as a computer O/S and Windows RT as a mobile O/S that simply look the same. The reason for the distinction is easy. Computers support code written using legacy x86 code. X86 refers to the architecture the computer CPU uses to execute programs. This code is still used by Intel and AMD for common desktop computers and laptops. Mobile devices, like tablets, use a CPU with a different, lighter architecture developed by ARM that does not support the x86 code.
“Windows RT is a new Windows-based operating system that’s optimized for thin and light PCs that have extended battery life and are designed for life on the go. Windows RT only runs built-in apps or apps that you download from the Windows Store. Windows Update automatically keeps your PC up to date and Windows Defender provides up-to-date virus and malware protection,” according to Microsoft. It contains many of the same features as Windows 8, but is a new operating system. Some of the features of Windows 8 and Windows RT include built-in apps like Mail, Calendar, Messaging, Photos, and SkyDrive, with many more apps available from the Windows Store. Some features aren’t included in Windows RT include Windows Media Player, Media Center, HomeGroup, no Domains and Remote Desktop.
“With Windows RT, you can install apps directly from the Windows Store, but you can’t install desktop programs that you used with previous versions of Windows,” states Microsoft.
So, there you have it. I am excited about the new versions of Windows, but beware the less expensive Windows RT may look like the right choice, but if you’re using the O/S for a desktop, stick with Windows 8 and enjoy your holiday. Cheers.
If you would like more information about Windows here’s a link you may find helpful: