Ahmed Eltawil's Blog

People who buy a Surface RT or any of the available Windows RT tablets think that it should run and install whatever programs they used before on other Windows devices. But as we all know, this isn’t the case at all. Windows RT only allows Office to run in Desktop which is already preinstalled. Other than that you’re out of luck which clearly adds more confusion to the consumer.

That leads me to ask the following question: Why did Microsoft even slap on a ‘Windows’ label on Windows RT if it’s not the Windows that most people know of? Now, I know exactly what Microsoft is going after with Windows RT tablets, they are mainly consuming devices that are competitors to iPad and Android. That’s the market they’re after.

Windows RT is simply the modern UI with a Desktop ‘app’ that only runs Office. And like I said before in an earlier post, the inclusion of Desktop in Windows RT is one of the main reasons behind the consumer confusion around what exactly does this Windows RT really offer compared to many other Windows 8 hybrids which run the ‘real’ Windows (in the average consumer’s mind). Therefore, the position of Windows RT with what Microsoft advertised it as was awkward, confusing and out of place, not to mention that it costs as much as an iPad (especially Surface RT).

I’m really looking forward to what Microsoft will be doing to clear this mess, especially after their Surface RT was a major flop.

If you look at what Microsoft is doing with Windows 8, they’re actually (for once) doing something great when it comes to providing built-in app updates. Those updates are all going through the Windows Store, which means there is no need to wait for Microsoft to push a major OS update in order to update those built-in app. So apps like Mail, Calendar, People, Music, Videos all get updated often through Windows Store.

On the other hand, when it comes to Windows Phone 8, this becomes a different story. Apparently, all built-in apps get updated with every major OS update, which happens once in a blue moon. This is another indication that when it comes to the OS architecture, Windows Phone 8 (in its current iteration) isn’t even close to what Microsoft is trying to achieve with their ‘Windows Everywhere’ concept and sharing the same Windows kernel. So in the case of Internet Explorer 11 on Windows Phone, you won’t see it getting updated with fixes or additional HTML 5 support any time soon until there is a OS update. Now, why is this the case? Why can’t those apps (which are in a way separate from the core OS) get updated more often directly through Windows Phone Store? The bigger question is why didn’t anyone at Microsoft suggest that in their meetings?

That being said, I’ve always felt Windows Phone 8’s team didn’t have much collaboration or meetings or talks (if any) with Windows 8’s team. Both OS interfaces (at least on the modern UI side) seem to handle things differently. There is no sense of consistency when you move from Windows Phone to Windows 8. Yes, there is that familiarity feeling but once you’re knee deep you realize they’re oceans apart.

I hope there is more in store that what was released and previewed in Windows 8.1, cause that might be an indication that Windows Phone 8.1 may not meet most people’s high expectation.

I always asked myself why Microsoft was so technical is naming their Windows RT edition of Windows. We all know it looks and functions the same as Windows 8, so why not just call it as it is; Windows 8. Not to mention the ‘Windows 8’ label doesn’t give any clue to what it offers. So instead of slapping confusing and potential-buyer-deterring labels, use three easy to remember and easy to compare and easy to differential labels:

  • Windows 8 Tablet Edition: It’s simply the modern Windows 8 interface without Desktop mode. Why include Desktop if the user won’t be able to install or run anything else besides the pre-installed Office suite? And since we all know Office suite will eventually be available as modern apps, this is more reason to completely remove Desktop from this edition.
  • Windows 8 Standard Edition: This is basically the current offering of Windows 8 (not the Pro edition). If you think about it, Windows 7 never came out as Windows 7, even the home edition was called Windows 7 Home. Heck, there was even a Windows 7 Basic edition. So why didn’t Microsoft clarify this by calling it Windows 8 Home or Windows 8 Standard like Windows 7 Home? I prefer the ‘Standard’ label since many small businesses are actually using the Home edition in their office therefore it makes sense to replace the ‘Home’ label with ‘Standard’ for general use.
  • Windows 8 Professional Edition: This is, obviously, the current offering of Windows 8 Pro.

Of course, there is also the Windows 8 Enterprise edition but I am currently just covering the operating systems that an average consumer would use.

In a nutshell, if you’re using the Windows 8 Tablet edition, then you’ll be only using the modern UI and there is no Desktop mode which means you will only be able to install and run Windows Store apps. If you’re using the Windows 8 Standard edition, then you’re going to have what the Tablet edition offers plus Desktop mode that gives you the ability to install and run any desktop app you desire. If you’re using the Windows 8 Professional edition, then you’re going to have what the Standard edition offers plus joining corporate or school domains, gives you access to Remote Desktop and provides enhanced data protection.

Easy as pie. Now why couldn’t Microsoft think of that?

Believe it or not, I think there is still hope for Windows RT to gain traction only if the following three critical points happens:

  1. Rebrand it to something else other than the incredibly confusing “Windows RT” name. Call it “Windows 8 Touch”, “Windows 8 Express”, “Windows 8 Tablet Edition” or simply “Windows 8” and rename the home edition to “Windows 8 Home”. Whatever the name is, it cannot be “Windows RT”.
  2. Remove Desktop. Yes, there is absolutely no use for it if the only thing it can run is Office in Windows RT. And since the Office suite is being developed as modern apps as we speak, it’s more reason for Desktop to be useless on Windows RT. File Explorer has been baked into Windows 8.1’s modern UI so that too is another nail in the Desktop coffin in Windows RT.
  3. Apps, and lots of popular apps. Without the top 10 apps that people know and expect on a tablet platform, there will be no reason for consumers to adopt Windows RT. Make sure those apps are in Windows Store.

That’s it. Consumers don’t need to know the technical definition of Windows RT to know what Windows RT is and what it enables them to do, hence rebranding it. Consumers don’t need to be confused with the presence of Desktop on a tablet when it’s mainly used for touch. And last, but no least, apps. Bring them, and buyers shall come.

Microsoft decided to completely remove the ARM based Windows OS from the Windows 8 family by calling it ‘Windows RT’, even though it looks completely identical to Windows 8 to the end user. Now why would they ever do something like that?

It looks exactly like Windows 8, it runs the same Windows Store apps like Windows 8, and on top of all that it even comes with Windows Desktop just like Windows 8. I understand that it won’t run other Desktop software besides Office but why confuse the end user with terminology? What happened to ‘Keep It Stupid Simple’?

The average consumer doesn’t give a crap of the underlying technology, and Microsoft expects them to know that ‘Windows RT’ stands for ‘Windows Run Time’ and that it’s sharing kernel code with Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8? Are you kidding me?

Here is what I think: Windows RT should have been called Windows 8 Express (just like how Microsoft uses ‘Express’ for other light weight and free software), and Windows 8 should have been called Windows 8 Premium and keep the Windows 8 Professional offering.

Express, Premium and Professional (and there is always the special Enterprise version). Simple and straight to the point.

It would have been fine if they kept using the term ‘Metro’ for the modern apps (Windows Store apps?) but for some reason Microsoft forgot to do their due diligence on whether they can legally use that name or not before they started using it.

So when they realized they had to stop using that name, they started calling them ‘modern apps’ for the lack of better words. But that’s not gonna help differentiate the type of apps since any application (whether a Windows Store or Desktop app) can revamp their UI and call it modern. Modern isn’t a noun, it’s an adjective. It can be used to describe any application if it fits the definition. So by calling them modern also added more confusion to the developers and end users.

So when Microsoft realized that, they changed it a second time and told us to start calling them ‘Windows Store’ apps instead. But any Windows 8 or Windows RT ‘app’ can come from the Windows Store eventually, and calling them Windows Store apps basically tells us that the app came from the Windows Store and not what type of application it is (I’m talking about what an average consumer would think).

So calling them Windows Store apps isn’t gonna help either in the long run and will most likely (as it is already) add more to the confusion.

Personally, I have no clue what those apps should be called, but I did like the term ‘metro’ the most out of all of them. Unfortunately, ‘metro’ cannot be used anymore.

Get your shit together, Microsoft.

I recently installed Windows 8 Pro on my home PC, which is the last computer that needed to be upgraded, and after installing the latest update for the Music app I experienced a strange issue.

I had no problems opening and browsing the Music app but when I started to play a song and switched to Desktop the computer somehow decides to dramatically lower the volume. Switching back to the Music app would bring up the volume automatically.

Since this is a Windows Store app, I couldn’t play with its settings or configuration files to try to determine what could be causing this, so I simply uninstalled the Music app and installed it again which fortunately fixed it.

Anyways, I thought I would post my experience in case there are others out there facing a similar issue.

@AhmedEltawil

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