Tim reports in on Windows 8, RT and ARM. The guys have a loose round table on where they see Microsoft and computing going in the future. Google Nexus 7 is a 7 inch tablet the right way for Google to go? Welcome to Episode 90 of the BYOB Podcast.
Before we get started on Windows RT, let’s quickly define the term ARM. The acronym stands for Advanced RISC Machine where RISC stands for Reduced Instruction Set Computing. The ARM (RISC) differs from complex instruction set computers called (CISC) like x86 architectures. We talked in earlier episodes about how the term x86, introduced in 1978, and it has grown to represent most modern day PCs.
ARM processors are RISC but not all RISC are ARMs. For example, your PlayStation 2 and your Nintendo 64 run on the MIPS line of RISC. For the most part though, ARM rules the market and is used in devices like the iPhone, iPad, RIM devices etc. Virtually every mobile phone made in the last eight years had an ARM processor. The actual architecture is licensed to companies like AMD, Apple, Marvell and LG. The processor designs are also licensed and companies can create system-on-a-chip packages for their devices such as the Surfaces Nvidia Tegra and the Samsung A5 chip used in the iPhone 4s and the iPad2.
Just as a quick comparison, Apple has iOS and OSX and Microsoft now has Windows RT and Windows 8. We all know that OSX and Windows 8 run on x86 and that iOS and Windows RT run on ARM.
So what does ARM have to do with Windows RT you ask? Well the ARM processors are lower power, require less cooling and have longer battery life which are exactly what you need for a tablet. Microsoft has designed Windows RT to run on ARM devices and with the announcement of the Surface this also means that Microsoft is now its own computer OEM. RT is the abbreviation for Runtime, the engine that runs the new Metro apps. RT has much in common as far as code with Windows 8 but only software written using Windows Runtime can be used on Windows RT. Windows RT will only run software from the Windows Store or software already included in the OEM package such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. The bad news is that traditional Win32 Windows programs will not run on RT. The good news is that new Metro Apps designed in Runtime will run on Windows 8 and RT.
A couple of key points we known so far about Windows RT is that is does not have Windows Media Player. We also know that is includes Office 15 (also called Office 2013) which uses a metro based interface and according to the Microsoft Office blog, is expected to beta later this summer. IE10 is included as a Metro app but does not support plug ins.
The Metro environment is the tile-based screen for Windows 8 that is similar to the Windows Phone OS. As a side note, Windows Phone 7 runs on an ARM device with Windows CE but the new Windows Phone 8 will have an architecture based off of the Windows NT kernel and make porting applications easy between it and Windows 8. This is not the case with Surface.
Some cool requirements that are required for Windows RT are:
· Exactly five buttons, one for power, one for rotation lock, one Windows Key and volume up and down.
· At least 10GB of storage after initial configuration
· 768 minimum resolution
· Other cool requirements such as ambient light sensor, gyroscope, Bluetooth, Direct3D graphics, USB, UEFI and accelerometer.
Just as a quick recap I have three key points to remember:
1. Windows RT will only support software included in the system or from Metro apps through the Windows Store. You will not be able to run or port x86 software to Windows RT.
2. This is different than Windows 8 which will run most software compatible with prior versions of Windows.
3. Metro apps design in Runtime can be compatible with Windows 8 and Windows RT.
Also, as one final note, only Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro will be available to purchase. Pro replaces Professional and Ultimate. Windows RT is only preinstalled on devices and Windows 8 Enterprise is only available on volume licensing through software assurance customers.
Additional information on the hardware requirements can be found at:
Press Release Information
Google Nexus 7 Tablet
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