Do we need another Windows OS?

Microsoft made a case this week for Windows RT. Is it necessary?

Windows RT -- too many OSes spoil the broth?

It's been about five months since Windows RT debuted. Is it a valuable and necessary addition to the Windows family?

Microsoft made a case this week for Windows RT, its stripped down version of Windows 8. But do we need a third version of Windows?

It's been about five months now since Windows RT debuted. And this week Microsoft made a case to CNET for the new operating system.

Michael Angiulo, corporate vice president, Windows Planning, Hardware & PC Ecosystem, told CNET: "It was a ton of work for us and we didn't do the work and endure the disruption for any reason other than the fact that there's a strategy there that just gets stronger over time."

And he went on to spell out reasons why RT is necessary .

Some of those reasons included:

  • Allowing the development of a product that's competitive with the iPad.
  • Providing a way for a PC-class Windows OS to tap into the dynamic ARM chip ecosystem that powers the world's tablets and smartphones.
  • Having a Windows PC that uses only "modern apps," i.e., apps downloaded from the Microsoft Store, and is not encumbered by legacy software.
  • A "propensity" for a much higher percentage of devices that ship with mobile broadband, i.e., 3G/4G.

As a counterpoint, Tom Mainelli, research director of tablets at market researcher IDC, told CNET earlier this month that "Microsoft decided to have a smartphone OS, then have Windows RT and Windows 8. I think the distinctions get lost on folks. I think they might be better served by putting more muscle behind Windows 8. Try to make that successful rather than trying to do three OSes."

And observers have pointed to the lack of RT apps and the fact that Intel's Atom chip offers pretty much the same benefits of ARM chips -- including long battery life and the ability to build ultrathin "fanless" tablets -- but with full Windows 8 compatibility.

What do you think?

Dell's XPS 10, which starts at $449, is a detachable design that runs Windows RT, comes with a Qualcomm processor, and can be configured with mobile broadband.
Dell's XPS 10, which starts at $449, is a detachable design that runs Windows RT, comes with a Qualcomm processor, and can be configured with mobile broadband. Dell
About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.

 

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