Surface marches on – even RT

Microsoft Surface RT
(Image: Microsoft)

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19 August 2014 | 0

Paul HearnsWith the Surface Pro 3 being made available here on 28 August, Microsoft had a hands on briefing today for local journalists. The good news is that a broad range of accessories, including a docking station and third party items, will be available either at launch or shortly afterward (September for the official docking station).

Keep an eye on TechCentral.ie for the hands on review.

But I also took the opportunity to ask about another element of the Surface family, the RT devices.

Now there were those who speculated, myself included, that the complete lack of mention of the RT devices at the Surface Pro 3 announcement signalled the death knell for the ARM-based devices. However, Patrick Ward, Windows and Surface Lead at Microsoft Ireland, said today that “Windows on ARM remains central to our Windows strategy”.

He confirmed that the Windows RT ecosystem would remain the ‘walled garden’ approach of exclusive availability of applications from the Windows Store.

With the recent news that Windows 9 would likely unify Windows versions and mean that there was a single version of the OS rather than three or four flavours, it probably means that existing ARM devices will remain running bespoke apps downloaded from the app store, but perhaps benefit from a wider developer base as the tools to develop for Windows will allow a single code base to be adapted to cover ARM and x86 systems.

The upshot is, if you have an RT device it will not be abandoned to an end of life fate. Which is good, because I for one like the plucky upstart that is Windows on ARM. Yes, while there is limited availability of apps (browsers in particular), and certain games would be good (Minecraft leaps to mind, though that’s a different story), the ability to quickly create kids’ profiles that allow you to hand an internet-connected device to a minor in relative confidence is valid justification in itself. Another is the fact that the heavy discounts offered have meant that the Surface RT in particular has been taken up in droves in education. It would be sad indeed if educational use of RT devices was to be left with a dead end.

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