A developer contacted me just after the //build conference asking “I’m a new developer for Windows 8 coming from an iOS development environment. I was looking to purchase an inexpensive Windows 8 Tablet so I contacted [a vendor] to try to understand their offerings.” Unfortunately the vendor didn’t do a good job explaining the differences between Windows 8 Pro and Windows 8 RT. Since I know that’s been confusing from the beginning, I decided to turn my reply to this developer into a blog post that others can share.
There are three main technical differences between Windows 8 Pro and Windows 8 RT:
- Windows Pro devices use x86 or x64 CPUs (Intel and AMD) while RT devices use ARM (Qualcomm and NVidia)
- Windows Pro devices come with little or no software pre-installed, while RT devices come with Microsoft Office
- Windows Pro devices allow applications to be installed from the store and to the desktop, while Windows RT devices only allow store applications to be installed.
So RT devices have very long battery life thanks to ARM, and they can do a lot of the same things Pro laptops can do since they run the same store apps and they come with Office pre-installed. However, since RT devices don’t run x86 and since you can’t install “desktop” apps on them, you can’t install programs like Visual Studio or Photoshop.
The easiest way to summarize:
- Pro is for laptops and desktops and getting “heavy lifting” done.
- RT is for “light” work like e-mail, games, browsing, movies, fun.
You can think of RT as a direct competitor to the iPad but with a shockingly large number of features you previously had to buy up to a full laptop to get (Windows, Office, USB, ability to Print, Flash in the browser, Networking, etc.)
I hope that helps