Windows RT (Runtime) is a version of upcoming Windows 8 OS, designed specifically for ARM based tablets. Runtime is a term used to refer to the engine that powers the Metro UI based apps and is a group of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). It provides programmers a platform to develop applications that can mutually interact with hardware. Microsoft recently announced the Surface which will run on Windows 8 RT and Windows 8 Pro. There are specific hardware requirements that a device has to meet in order to run on Windows RT.
The release of Windows 8 thus puts an end to the WinNT computing that consisted of Win32 applications. Although these programs are used widely and will continue for few more years, applications will be developed on the WinRT platform henceforth. Mobile devices being the future of computing, this platform will be dominated by tablets and smartphones.
According to Gartner Inc, a Stamford based technology research organization, grouping WinRT with the new Metro User Interface will not bar users from running the traditional Win32 apps. All Windows 8 machines including the upcoming tablets and smartphones will support the WinNT based software together with WinRT. However, developers will be encouraged to build apps on the WinRT platform.
The transition from traditional desktops/laptops to tablets has been embraced by users globally and therefore the rise in demand for mobile computing devices. Touch devices are portable and user-friendly. Google’s Android, one of the rivals of Microsoft Windows 8 has enticed users with intriguing apps that cater to people from all walks of life. Developers continue to design apps for Android. Microsoft, having recognized the latest consumer trends, is prepared to make a striking debut into the tablet segment with Windows 8. Hence they have come up Windows RT, a separate version for ARM based devices.
Given how widely win32 apps are used, a complete switch over to WinRT based apps will not happen overnight. It will take a certain period of time and can stretch upto a decade, feels Gartner. The new Metro interface and its tile based apps have received rave reviews. If there is persistent increase in its popularity, over the years, users will stop using WinNT based applications and shift to WinRT. This is applicable to both home users and business organizations.
Post the release of the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, there is no doubt that Windows 8 is the outcome of a major technology shift. The evolution of Windows NT from DOS technology was the last technology shift witnessed by Windows family of operating systems. According to an industrial analysis, the business users will take more time to implement Windows RT than the home users. It further reveals that by 2020, all business organizations will do more than 90 percent of their work with WinRT apps.
Users today prefer having a computer that is portable, user-friendly and has a long battery life. Consequently, tablets sales are soaring high each day. There are few tasks for which desktops and laptops are preferred over tablets. For instance, typing documents, e-mails, blogs, etc. still calls for a computer with physical keyboard which makes for comfortable typing. Tablets currently lag behind in terms of typing functionality. However, with passage of time, this shortcoming will be overcome, feels an industry expert. Tablets will then outperform the traditional computing devices. Microsoft is therefore focusing on a platform for building more and more apps for mobile devices like tablets and smartphones.