Microsoft has confirmed today that Windows RT will not be upgraded to Windows 10. The official statement from the company is that Surface Pro will be updated to Windows 10, and “we are working on an update for Surface (RT and Surface 2), which will have some of the functionality of Windows 10.” For anyone who purchased either the Surface RT, or the Surface 2, this is a fairly poor message, especially considering the Surface 2 was still for sale not very long ago.

Windows RT was certainly a marketing failure, and arrived at the wrong time and for the wrong reasons. The initial hardware, such as the Tegra 3 powered Surface RT, was fairly underpowered, and sales were poor causing Microsoft to write down $900 million in inventory. The next generation Surface 2 was a much better performing device, but with the ARM CPU inside it was not able to run any of the traditional Windows applications. By the time Surface 2 came to market, Intel had low power Bay Trail CPUs which were competitive on power usage, and offered good performance, plus offered backwards compatibility with all of the Win32 desktop applications, leaving Microsoft as the only vendor selling Windows RT devices.

There were advantages to Windows RT of course, with little chance of malware finding its way onto the system, but the Windows Store ecosystem still lags behind iOS and Android as far as the number of tablet apps available.

It is disappointing to see support dropped so quickly, and of course harkens back to the Windows Phone 7 owners who did not get a Windows Phone 8 upgrade, but in the same vein, some work appears to be underway to bring some of the Windows 10 features to the short lived ARM version of Windows. The strangest part is that with the Hardware Abstraction Layer work already done, the amount of work to bring Windows 10 to the Surface RT and Surface 2 should be minimal, and with Windows Phone being replaced with Windows 10, universal apps will still have to be compiled for ARM chips, making the abandonment of the devices a strange notion when Windows 10 is going to be offered as a free upgrade.

Source: Paul Thurrott

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  • domboy - Friday, January 23, 2015 - link

    A "jailbroken" Windows RT device can run .NET programs that have been compiled to target "any cpu" (which is the default I understand), and win32 applications that have been recompiled for the ARM processor. A good example of a .NET application that runs unmodified is the KeePass2 portable executable version... download it and run it just like on x86 Windows.

    Obviously to recompile a win32 application you have to have the source code, so all the win32 applications that have been recompiled to run on Windows RT desktop are open source, things like Putty, 7-Zip, Dosbox, etc. Here's a list:

    This collection of ARM desktop apps have made my RT so much more functional than it was out of the box that I probably won't ever upgrade from RT 8.0 unless a new jailbreak is released for 8.1 and later (whatever version this new update will be called).
  • Cygni - Thursday, January 22, 2015 - link

    Aw, i still remember when very dumb people vehemently defended Win RT to the death on this very websites comments...

    Good times, good times.
  • xrror - Thursday, January 22, 2015 - link

    I just wish Microsoft would let users unlock their devices after official support is over. I'd be nice since my workplace bought a few when MS firesaled them for $120 a piece - we just got them to play with mostly, but it was interesting to have a device that also could join Active Directory and also be used for things like POS terminals and such.

    Oh well, maybe someone will have some success with getting breaking the firmware so we can install things after RT is dead.
  • domboy - Friday, January 23, 2015 - link

    I've had the same though. Throw RT users a bone and release a little app that allows the user to change the signing requirement so the open-source community could resume supporting the device with ARM compiled apps. And/or provide a way to unlock the UEFI so we could install Linux on them.
  • danbob999 - Thursday, January 22, 2015 - link

    And this is why people don't buy Microsoft non x86/AMD64 (PC) OSes.
    They left Windows Mobile users in the dark, Windows Phone 7 users in the dark, and now Windows RT users. Every time, they make a new start with big promises and tell people that their new OS is there to stay. But it doesn't. How do I know that the next Surface ARM windows 10 tablet will not be left in the dark too?
  • fel0niousmonk - Friday, February 6, 2015 - link

    Those early adopters are clearly not good enough evangelists for the platform.

    If Apple had those same early adopters, the world wouldn't be obsessed with iOS.

    There were & are so many early adopters who gave up trying, and in a lot of cases I think vindictively jumped ship and became supporters of the competition while feigning the MS support in the way of 'constructive' criticism. Windows users (or perhaps more accurately, users on Windows) are simply more cynical and jaded, and it's reflected in the strangely hypocritical market reactions to Windows products.

    Of course there is more at play here, but the reality of this can't be ignored.
  • fel0niousmonk - Friday, February 6, 2015 - link

    I'd wager a lot of the jaded early adopters of unsupported Windows products are the very type of people who laughed off the iPhone because it couldn't do anything special but be a reasonably capable touchscreen device that could make calls and play music, when buttons were the big mobile input.
  • mkozakewich - Friday, January 23, 2015 - link

    It shouldn't be too hard to turn Surfaces into Windows phones, right? They're running pretty much the same hardware.
  • Wolfpup - Friday, January 23, 2015 - link

    An interesting thought, though Windows Phone is way more limited than RT 8.1. I know they're calling Windows Phone 10 "Windows 10", but...presumably it's really Windows Phone 10? At any rate I'd take RT 8.1 over any version of Windows Phone, unless it's really a lot more Windows-y than I'm realizing.

    RT 8.1 works great as a desktop even, and while my primary phone is a Windows Phone, I'd still rather it somehow run real Windows on it :-D
  • zodiacfml - Friday, January 23, 2015 - link

    Inevitable. They weren't sure Intel will be able or will produce hardware that can come close to ARM thus the birth of RT. I feel bad for those who bought it.

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