When it first came out, it seemed like a sort of stop-gap. Sure there was excitement and for the most part. It didn’t disappoint due to the giant step forward of the Metro user interface. Then most looked to the future-to the Slate RT’s bigger brother-the Pro. That seemed like the culmination of the tablet experience. With Pro you get all of the same awesome of tablets combined with all of the awesome of running your favorite regular Windows programs. When compared to this, RT seemed kind of dumb.
There has been a lot of questions about why Microsoft keeps the lesser of the two OS’s around. After all, why buy the RT when you can just spend a bit more and run everything you would on your computer?
To me, this is a bit of backwards thinking and I posit Microsoft would agree, especially when we consider how little Windows legacy programs we actually use on a day to day basis. We *think* we do everything on proper programs. Upon closer inspection, that might not be as true when we dig into the actuality of the numbers. The average person may only use the Office suite, perhaps a dedicated email program like Outlook or Thunderbird. Perhaps we might even use an image processing program, but mainly we use a browser.
Thinking about how small the program list is, and what it offers, things really start to look up for RT. Adding to that, Microsoft has begun to embrace the cloud in recent years. You can now get a version of the Office suite on your browser, which means that it should work through the RT’s browser soon enough. Adobe has even put Photoshop on the cloud, as well. What’s left for the average user? Perhaps a dedicated email program and that’s about it – not that we need one as we’ve all gotten used to web-based emailing and plowing that content to our phones. Sure, there’s the high-end games and the diaspora of specialized programs for anything from music to engineering but honestly, most who run such things prefer more power than even a laptop can give. So while these Windows power users would certainly like to have it all in the palms of their hands, they’re relegated to a very similar small island as Mac Pro users in Apple-land.
The biggest win is that with web delivery of applications, it takes a lot of the testing and requirements off of the operating system. It can be fair to assume that Microsoft has gotten to understand and like the software-as-service model of the software business. In my mind, they haven’t got the pricing part of it down just yet but they’ve certainly liked what they have tasted.
For them, it’s good business. Microsoft gets a guaranteed revenue stream built on essentially un-steal-able software (so far). More importantly, it makes a clean break from previous versions of Windows. One of the biggest benefits of RT is that Windows won’t have to drag around all of the legacy compatibility it’s been shackled with for it’s entire run. Apple got to do this moving from OS9 to OS10 and got a great boost in performance. The performance and usability boost even offset all the grumbling that happened when the change went through. Windows should make it across the chasm, as well.
The fact of the matter here is that RT might just be the actual future of Windows more than anything else. If it’s still a bit of a stretch to consider, the analogue here is that the same thing has already happened to Apple where essentially iOS has become the flagship, relegating whatever happens on the desktop/laptop as the ‘weekend’ news item. So perhaps it’s time for us to get that cheaper Windows Slate.