23 Apr 2012

Credit: Aurich Lawson

In case you missed it, Microsoft recently announced that they have renamed Windows on Arm (previously known as WOA) to that of Windows RT and also announced the four editions of Windows 8.  The decision to call it Windows RT seems to come from the idea that you can only run Windows Metro apps on WOA, which doesn't take into account the fact that Metro apps can run on more than just the ARM architecture.  

Windows RT will only be available (pre-installed) on devices which are powered by ARM processors.  Windows RT (32-bit only) will come with touch optimized "desktop mode" versions of the new Office apps including Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote.

Here is where it gets confusing.  If you are a programmer, you know that Metro apps use something called WinRT the Windows RunTime programming framework.  WinRT basically a COM-based API, is a programming framework that is the heart of Metro-style apps.  Where the naming of the new ARM operating system really confuses things is that the WinRT framework actually can be used on platforms OTHER than ARM-based ones such as Intel (x86/x64).

What should they have called it?  Well, honestly anything but Windows RT would be my answer but with a few exceptions.   WOA was a good platform specific name, but Windows RT, not so much.

Some will argue that the renamed WOA should have been called Windows Metro, but since Metro can run on multiple hardware platforms, maybe not the best choice either.   Some think Windows Tablet would have been a good name, but since Windows RT isn't restricted to just tablets, this choice doesn't work either.

This Windows RT naming convention will easily confuse consumers in the coming months, as Windows RT tablets will certainly become confused with Intel tablets that are simply running "Windows 8".  Not only this, but since ARM tablets can only run Metro apps (with the exception of the embedded Desktop Experience Office), many may opt to go with an Intel based tablet because they can run more than just Metro apps.

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