Windows RT Really Isn’t So Bad


As Microsoft released their latest financial figures and took a 900 million dollar write-off for Window RT pundits were out in force chiding Microsoft for its failed tablet endeavors.  There was a time when I might have merrily joined in on that witch hunt but you know what? Windows RT really isn’t so bad. It actually does a pretty good job at addressing the needs of the consumer market it’s targeted for. And for those of you that know me – no, I wasn’t abducted by aliens or cajoled by Microsoft minions into writing this column. What actually happened was that my daughter got a Windows RT Surface. She is reasonably computer savvy and can find her way around Windows and do email but she’s not what you’d call an expert or power user.   I totally expected to be deluged with questions about how Windows 8 worked or complaints about the formerly-known-as-Metro interface but to my surprise neither of these things happened. What did happen is that she got it. I showed her some of the basic Windows 8 gestures and she took off from there. That’s right she figured out how to use Windows RT touch interface and actually liked it.

The Surface RT and Windows RT did exactly what she wanted it to do: surfing the web, doing e-mail, watching YouTube videos, opening up the occasional Word doc or Excel spreadsheet and playing Angry Birds. That’s it. She was the audience this device was targeted for and it worked for her. She doesn’t use it for work didn’t have a lot of deeply in-grained Windows habits. More importantly apart from some light Office use she had no need to run a bunch of existing Windows programs. The Surface RT’s keyboard, super lightweight portability, excellent battery life and internet connectivity fit her consumer needs to a tee. While the Surface Pro has been chided for its limited battery life the Surface RT’s battery life is at another level – averaging at least eight hours plus on a full charge.  While I’ve seen some complaints of the Surface RT’s performance I found this device to perform quite well for the tasks it does. Don’t get me wrong I’m still no fan of the Windows 8 Metro interface – especially for IT professionals but on the other hand Windows RT and the Surface RT in particular really isn’t so bad. It’s not a business device but it’s actually a very good consumer oriented tablet. The Surface RT is certainly a viable competitor to the iPad - especially if you want to run Office.


Discuss this Blog Entry 4

on Jul 31, 2013

So sick of the RT bashing headlines around the blogosphere. That's right, RT doesn't suck and far from it. I'm sure your daughter isn't too happy she can't play Minecraft on RT yet, but everyone fails to mention the best part about RT. YOU CAN'T GET VIRUSES, MALWARE, TOOLBARS!!!

What is wrong with that? This platform simply needs more adoption, to drive apps. Losing a billion dollars on RT was the best thing to happen to this platform. Now people can get the dang thing for the price that it should have been released at in the first place. MS should really toss in the keyboard at this point, and watch them fly off the shelves. Shame on Thurrott and every other anti-RT moron out there for slowing the adoption of RT. Your daughter is a great example, good stuff.

on Aug 1, 2013

Michael had a good point, until his closing sentence. The argument for Windows RT cannot in good faith include any assurance of using it for Office products any more than my Google Nexus 7 be sold as a way to "run Office".

What Microsoft has packaged and sold the world as "Office" on this device has little relation to the real thing. Yes, it carries the same pretty icons and some of the same Office 2013 visual cues, however even a light brushing up against the veneer upon which this faux Office has been painted on quickly reveals the emptiness of the tool.

Significant functional parts have been eviscerated from this "Office", leaving Excel good for little more than the simplest of list making and counting tasks. Microsoft's decision to prioritize appearance over function means that Michael's daughter will be left with little more capability than to keep a simple count of the number pigs her Angry Birds have had victory over.

Unfortunately, there is one big pig that all the birds in her game cannot defeat - the one named Surface RT.

on Aug 2, 2013

This is not true. Office RT is simply an ARM recompilation of the x86 version of Office 2013. It's real Office, full-featured Office, and few users would ever notice a single missing feature because there are so few differences.

on Aug 4, 2013

I think its interesting in that Apple has create such thick walls defining what a tablet is and is not that when a product comes out that does not fit within the confines of that definition, even its creator stumbles to qualify it. That is Surface RT.

What is lacking in apps typically can be run as a web app from the full IE browser. Pandora, Hulu, Nexflix, Facebook games, etc. And the browser functions (on the desktop at least) just like the browser on the PC with extenders, accelerators. filter lists, etc. You can really get very details on how IE works in the settings. You can also use Google Apps as well.

The USB port accepts thousands of various devices including DVD players, headsets, thumb drives, hubs, etc. It will even recharge your phone.

Unlike iOS, you can use a mouse with RT. This is a huge benefit when working in either RDP sessions or on remote apps via Citrix or the like. RT actually comes with a free remoting connection license to a Windows VDI.

You can print directly via the USB port, via an IP printer, a shared printer on a LAN, etc. The printing is native and there are no odd formatting issues.

You can join Microsoft Home Groups and share resources such as printers, media, files, etc. In fact you can map network shares to computers on a LAN and use your domain credentials to authenticate in a enterprise.

And of course there is Office but what some do not know is that things like ODBC settings are still there in RT so you can setup connections to network server DBs for use with your Office programs like Excel. Outlook connection does not use ActiveSync like iOS or Android and so does not trigger ActiveSync Admin requirements or MDM license usage.

RT has almost all of the same functions built into Windows including Ease of Access with speech recognition and voice. It also has powershell scripting as well.

The device is Bitlocker encrypted, runs Defender, DRM, Secure Boot, and Secure Screen.

Android just announced some limited multi-profiles but RT has this x10. You can create many profiles and set them up with various granular accesses with their own profile spaces, etc.

SkyDrive (or whatever they call it) is built in with files and settings sync to make your RT look just like your PC if you like. There is also File History which allows you to backup your files from your SSD to your SD card if you like on a regular schedule on top of SkyDrive. You also have your Live ID that you can connect to your RT to bring your profile down to.

Etc and so on. Surface RT is a powerful device but it is also a light, responsive, tablet. You can use it as a simple device or as a power users productivity portal.

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