That is the answer to the question that has been confounding every tech pundit and reviewer as to why Microsoft would release an Windows RT version of its Surface tablets before the Intel core based Pro version coming in two months time.
Windows RT is a version of Windows built for ARM chipsets; they can’t run applications previously built for the Windows platform (which were built for Intel x86). Windows RT relies solely on getting applications from the Windows Store; which is missing well known applications from companies like Twitter (which announced it was making a Windows client) and Facebook. It also is a version 1 product with all the immaturity that entails.
Now a lot of reviews have remarked on the above as the reason to not purchase the Surface RT. Why would you they write, buy this device when you could wait for the Intel based version or another Windows device? Why did Microsoft not wait and bring out RT when the ecosystem was stronger?
The answer is as stated before, apps.
See there is an inherent catch 22 with new platforms. It doesn’t mater how good the ideas are or how intuitive a system can seem, it needs a certain amount of applications to be considered viable. The catch is new platforms need X amount of users before developers will come looking and users won’t adopt a platform if they don’t see their particular app.
It a case where the chicken and the egg both need to be their but won’t until the other goes first.
There is also the unique case of Windows 8. Windows 8 brings a new touch optimized environment to the platform. It’s goal is to compete in the tablet market. The problem, which some don’t see, can be summed up in a simple question:
Why should a developer create a touch application for Windows 8 when they can stay on the desktop? Why should a developer target the new parts of Windows; which require an application be built on the new Windows Run Time when they can stay on the desktop. A better way to put it is how can Microsoft encourage them too.
And on the flipside of the equation, how can Microsoft and its partners create products that will bring users into the store and buy Windows devices. Think about the devices OEMs brought to market in the aftermath of the iPad and later and compare them to their Windows 8 offerings. They provide a lot of variety but none stand out. Many build on designs done for Android.
So you need to encourage developers and bring in customers. What do you do?
You create the Surface. You create a halo device; one that provides a style benchmark, that’s attractive, and brings them in. You make it an RT device. To encourage developers to build for the new platform. To support Windows move to ARM. And prove Windows RT is viable.
It seems a lot of writers and bloggers get confused by Windows 8 and RT. They have this issue with understanding why people would want Office; or a desktop on a tablet. They get confused why anyone would want to use a keyboard; and if they did why design a tablet where it could be used.
I’m not going to sit here and write that Windows 8 is easy to understand; its not. I’m not disagreeing with people’s issue with Windows RT. But I do think reviewers are over thinking how people will use the Surface. Many will treat the Surface RT as what it is, a companion device. At 10.6 inches, only people living on the edge of tech will think of using it to replace a laptop. I also don’t think people will be jarred by switching between the new touch environment and the desktop. As stated before, most people buying the Surface will be adding it to their collection of technology just as they’ve done with the iPad. Now people will and may not look at the RT device because of lack of apps, but that was exactly why it was built; so they’d look.