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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  • Penti - Thursday, January 22, 2015 - link

    Actually Windows Runtime apps for phones and for tablets are still two different things. So it's not like an compatible app is compiled anyway, they use slightly different runtimes! Though the runtime is essentially the same as with x86/64 Store apps. Universal apps are not WORA. Of course compiler work and so on will have to continue, which will take some resources if they want to move to ARMv8. I expect the current Phone-variant will just be extended and continue to be offered for anyone wishing to run on ARM, and be called "Windows 10" with a kernel update of some type. The phone-variant will still have to support and run non "universal apps"-projects as it will have to support older versions of it's runtimes even the old model from WP7.
  • Brett Howse - Thursday, January 22, 2015 - link

    With Windows 10, the distinction you are making is going away though. The phone is no longer a different runtime.

    There used to be WinRT and WinPRT but now there's just Windows 10.
  • Flunk - Thursday, January 22, 2015 - link

    They actually haven't announced Universal apps will compile on Windows 10 yet, it would be nice if all platforms shared a run time, but they haven't confirmed that. Universal Apps for Windows 8.1/Windows Phone 8.1 are a bit of a mess with multiple projects for UI and a shared core library.
  • Penti - Thursday, January 22, 2015 - link

    Universal apps also include when you have different apps on different runtimes but sell them as apps available on both phone and desktop store with one purchase, so in that sense it's similar to steamplay on Steam – but often even less related than that as some "universal" stuff shares no code at all.
  • Penti - Thursday, January 22, 2015 - link

    Actually they had a full featured Windows Runtime in Windows Phone 8.1 with the advent of universal apps projects in VS, and full C++/CX/XAML support. But it's still different! Plus Windows 10 for phones will still support Silverlight, Windows Phone Runtime (introduced in 8.0) and the Windows Runtime of WP8.1. The distinction will continue.
  • Gigaplex - Thursday, January 22, 2015 - link

    "With Windows 10, the distinction you are making is going away though."

    And since Windows 10 isn't coming to Windows RT, this is still in no way helpful to Surface RT devices.
  • nandnandnand - Thursday, January 22, 2015 - link

    "There were advantages to Windows RT of course, with little chance of malware finding its way onto the system."

    Welcome to Windows RT. Population: 0.
  • TiGr1982 - Thursday, January 22, 2015 - link

    Well, not exactly 0, but, of course, pretty small :)
    Windows RT was initially called WOA (Windows On ARM). So, this means that this (failed) WOA project reaches its closure soon. woa... (but not a surprise here, actually).
  • HardwareDufus - Friday, January 23, 2015 - link

    actually, if WIndows10 is going to run on my Lumia1520.... than it is WIndows on ARM as my Lumia1520 uses the SnapDragon800 chipset which is ARM based.

    My Lumia2520 also uses the SnapDragon800 fact, it's specs are nearly identical to the 1520, sans the higher res camera... shame my 6" phone will get WIndows10, but my 10" tablet won't.
  • serafimch - Monday, February 16, 2015 - link

    I bought a lumia 2520 at Christmas 2013-2014. I feel as a complete idiot, microsoft abandoned as with no reason.I will never go with microsoft again

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