Windows RT update that isn’t Windows 10 coming in September

Microsoft logoWindows RT, the unloved and unwanted ARM version of Windows 8, is getting an update in September. This update will include a new Start menu and lock screen... and for the moment, at least, that seems to be the extent of it.

Microsoft has a Windows 10 FAQ, and WMPU spotted that it recently changed to make mention of Windows RT. Windows 8.1 RT Update 3, as it appears to be known, will be released in September for Windows RT devices, and the FAQ claims vaguely that it will "improve" the Start menu and lock screen.

This will presumably make both of these things look closer to their substantially updated Windows 10 equivalents, though they may not be identical. WinBeta reports that according to its sources, the new Windows RT Start menu will not use the same code that the Windows 10 Start menu uses. Instead, it will be based on earlier code that was found in some of the Windows 10 Technical Previews.

Windows RT update that isn’t Windows 10 coming in September

Microsoft has previously said that it won't release a full version of Windows 10 for Windows RT devices, and this latest announcement doesn't change that. A Microsoft spokesperson told ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley that even after the update, Windows RT devices will not be able to run applications built for the new Universal Windows Platform; they'll continue to support only those apps built for the Windows 8.1 platform. This means that, for example, the recently finalized Touch Office apps, which require Windows 10, won't ever become available on Windows RT devices.

This would also explain why the Start menus won't be identical; the Windows 10 Start menu requires certain Windows 10 APIs that Windows RT will continue to lack. Similarly, WinBeta's sources say that Windows RT won't get Continuum support—again because it requires Windows 10 APIs.

The purpose of this move remains a little strange. It's hard to imagine that there's any technical impediment to providing full Windows 10 on these devices, and even if Microsoft felt that was undesirable for some reason, it will later this year be shipping Windows 10 Mobile. Windows 10 Mobile, designed for phones and (small-screen) tablets, runs on ARM processors and supports the full Universal Windows Platform. Shipping Windows 10 Mobile for Windows RT devices would avoid the "different Start menu" issue that seems likely to materialize and would likely yield much better application support for the Windows RT hardware that buyers are stuck with.

Source: Ars Technica

Tags: Microsoft, OSes, Windows RT

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