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Microsoft bares Windows RT 'PC'

A Windows RT PC isn't a PC as we know it. But then Windows 8 isn't a typical Windows revision either.

Windows RT prototype (L) and current product.
Windows RT prototype (L) and current product.

Aside from calling it a "PC," there isn't much about Windows RT devices that resemble the laptop you're using today, as Microsoft spelled out today in its Building Windows 8 blog.

At the top the blog, Microsoft confirmed that Dell, Lenovo, and Samsung will be introducing Windows RT PCs running on top of ARM chips.

This follows the announcement by Asus of the Windows RT Tablet 600.

Here are some of the highlights of today's blog:

  • Windows RT is not just tablets: The point being that many devices will come with physical keyboards. "Some of our Windows RT PCs come with full keyboard and touchpad solutions, whether removable/dockable or a traditional clamshell," wrote Mike Angiulo, the vice president of our Ecosystem and Planning team at Microsoft.
  • Native support for fast gesture: Working with touchpad component vendors, Microsoft has included native support in firmware to deliver "incredibly fast" Windows 8 gesture recognition. (See bottom of Building Windows 8 blog for gesture images.)
  • Long battery life: Microsoft reiterated that Windows RT PCs will be a "thin and light in industrial design" with long battery life.
  • NFC: near field communication. "By...tapping two NFC-enabled Windows RT PCs together, users can easily share photos, URLs, map directions, and anything else that our software partners have designed into their Windows apps."
  • Support for a wide range of peripherals, connections: USB mass storage, printing, audio/video peripherals, WWAN, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth.
  • Better graphics performance: In addition to "optimizations around power-efficient HD video playback, the core Windows RT UI animations achieve 60fps, which was our design goal."

Microsoft also provided some helpful hints about what kind of battery life to expect. In the tests cited below, a PC "was playing back in full screen a local HD video at full resolution with a screen brightness of 200 nits" and screen sizes range from 10.1-inch to 11.6-inch and battery sizes span from 25 Whr to 42 Whr.

And measurements are based on firmware still undergoing final optimizations, so things should improve in final products.

Windows RT PC battery life.
Windows RT PC battery life. Microsoft

Then there's weight: 520 to 1,200 grams. By comparison, the third-generation iPad weighs 652 grams. The 11.6-inch MacBook Air is just over 1000 grams.

Windows RT PC weight and other system characteristics.
Windows RT PC weight and other system characteristics. Microsoft