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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  • Refuge - Friday, January 23, 2015 - link

    Wait people really thought Intel would have a hard time meeting the power/performance levels needed for mobile? Really? Ok... News to me then...
  • serafimch - Monday, February 16, 2015 - link

    you are right my friend, I myself bought it and feel betrayed not to say STUPID
  • damianrobertjones - Friday, January 23, 2015 - link

    "Windows RT will not get Windows 10 update" (Shouldn't there be an 'a' in there?)

    “we are working on an update for Surface (RT and Surface 2), which will have some of the functionality of Windows 10.”

    So... Which one is it?
  • Zizy - Friday, January 23, 2015 - link

    Eh, this will be the same as Lumia 1020 Denim update. As CPU cannot handle those fancy camera tricks it won't have them :)
    Similar thing will happen here. Forget "Hey Cortana!" on Surface 1 because CPU is too weak for that.

    MS will probably still call those versions W10, not 8.5 or so. Less complaining that way.
  • stefstef - Friday, January 23, 2015 - link

    what to make of the upgrade anyway ? i like windows 8.1. but years after the windos xp you can easily screw up windows just by installing some software. i have about 5 application programs + visura scanner. all fine. i have origin, battlenet, steam and ubisoft player. i installed about 20 games. result: 5 different versions of vc++ redist packages, each game tries to install the proper direct x version. result: the games app no longer working and recently i tried to install a normal software package. already the installer crashed. i had to do it in a fresh user account. so one day i will have to reinstall just i did a couple of install stuff. was the same on xp, now still the same on windows 8.1. well for that you cant blame microsoft. but why dont they try to start a second line which gets rid of this compatibility shite, makes a clean cut under the hood with a freshly started windows line instead of having this universal windows approach adding "features" like siri or the old start menu and a modern 3d glasses. i would prefer windows new or windows freshstart to the updates any day. for the real future i would be willing to sacrifice compatibility to some games and some apps easily.
  • ET - Friday, January 23, 2015 - link

    Pity. I had hoped that Microsoft would just make Windows for ARM, especially now that it has a single code base across all platforms.

    I think it would be good for Microsoft to have a full ARM platform, with the ability to run desktop apps (specially compiled or generic .NET apps), to widen the CPU base. Such an upgrade would have made RT tablets more useful, and made their users feel much better.
  • domboy - Friday, January 23, 2015 - link

    That's what I had been hoping for as well... that they ditch the silly locked-down OS thing and just release a Windows 10 for ARM that was identical to Windows 10 x86.
  • Wolfpup - Friday, January 23, 2015 - link

    "especially considering the Surface 2 was still for sale not very long ago."

    Actually it's still for sale.

    One thing this ignores is that while it's apparently not getting the new OS, Windows 8.1 will still be supported for years to come. I mean if you bought a Surface 1, it'll still be supported for years AFTER Apple dumps support for the iPad Air 3 or whatever (and Google any Nex...i?)

    I bought one for my mom, that she's using as a desktop, and for that use it's still great. It gives you a full/real web browser, flash, real office, a real file system, support for piles of accessories that iOS and Android can't use, etc. For her the fact that it's locked down is actually great, and it still does everything she needs, and it should be safe to use into the 2020s.

    For me, obviously I would have wanted an x86 emulator built in and for it to be unlocked like real Windows, but even still I like the thing.

    Obviously for the past year I've been thinking "why not just replace Tegra 4 with Atom 2?" The hardware and everything are great (even on the first gen version my mom uses)...but replace ARM with an Atom....
  • gumbedamit - Friday, January 23, 2015 - link

    I guess it's just my opinion, but RT was better than any tablet that I've used. The author talks about it's shortcomings, not being able to run x86 programs, does Android, does iPad run OSX. I'm so tired of that comparison. Sure there are a lack of native apps, but I guess having a fully functioning browser that allowed you to to the actual web site doesn't count. Didn't have to pay for Hulu Plus when I could just launch Hulu from my browser, then just WIRELESSLY stream it to my TV. True MULTITASKING split screen, three screens actually. Launching PowerShell, CMD Prompt and a bunch of other utilities. No lag, yes Android tablets and phones still lag. I have 3 Android tablets, the latest being the the Sony Z tablet. I can't fault too much with iPADs, I just don't believe the hype. My point is , My Surface RT and Lumia 2520 are the best tablets that I've used. I am deeply disappointed that MS has elected not to put them on an upgrade path. I am dubious about purchasing future products from MS. It's like getting into a new TV show with an exciting season ending cliffhanger, then finding out, the show was canceled... THAT SUX!!!!
  • Brett Howse - Friday, January 23, 2015 - link

    No, iOS and Android can't run x86 apps, but they have a much larger selection of apps in the store. I have a Surface RT. I know what it can and can't do.

    The issue with Windows RT is that it came out for ARM, and then shortly after Bay Trail came out and rendered it useless. Everything you say you can do on your RT device can also be done on a Windows tablet with an x86 processor, but they can also do a lot more. If the RT devices carried a discounted price they may have been more popular but they did not really come in any less expensive than an x86 tablet (Contra Revenue made sure of that).

    I have no issues at all with no more Windows RT devices being sold. Zero. I don't really like Microsoft leaving paying customers who bought into their ecosystem as recent as today won't get the big update to Windows 10.

    So yes, these will continue to get security updates for years, but that's not the same thing as getting the OS update.

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