Microsoft exec: Look at the bright side of Windows RT

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A Microsoft executive, in comments offered to CNET, said that people may be missing the benefit of Windows RT and Windows 8 apps.

Microsoft has taken some heat for its apps strategy with Windows 8, particularly on RT machines. Windows RT machines run on ARM chips and so apps must be re-written for them. In practice, that means all apps for Windows RT devices, like the Surface RT, get downloaded from the Microsoft Store. It also means that a lot of apps don’t run on RT devices since they haven’t yet been adapted.

“People are talking about legacy desktop software not running, but they don't think about the customer benefit of only running modern apps,” Michael Angiulo, corporate vice president, Windows Planning, Hardware & PC Ecosystem, told CNET.

For instance, if a customer loses their RT tablet, they can replace it and automatically redownload all of their apps. The model is similar to the iPad, where apps are associated with your user account.

He didn't mention SkyDrive, but the tight integration of Windows 8 with SkyDrive similarly makes it easier for users to access their data from new devices.

Angiulo’s comments highlight Microsoft’s challenges with migrating to a new apps model.

On Intel-based Windows 8 products, users can still buy software that runs in the desktop mode, which looks a lot like previous versions of Windows. Or they can download new Windows 8 apps that work within new UI, which looks dramatically different.

Windows RT has a desktop mode, but all third-party apps must be written for the new UI. Only Microsoft's own Office suite, and a few other Microsoft tools, use the legacy desktop mode.

Users have complained about both approaches. On Windows 8 laptops, people complain that switching between the two views is jarring. On Windows RT, people complain about a lack of apps. It seems like Microsoft had no ideal path to follow, but over time as more apps become available for Windows RT, its benefits could become clearer.

Angiulo also noted that the efficiency of ARM will be a huge benefit going forward, and will make it easier cellular capability to Windows RT machines. Microsoft itself isn’t making a Surface with cellular included, but AT&T is selling an Asus Windows RT tablet with cellular connectivity, and there are a handful of other devices out there.

The point: Windows RT is a long play. Despite the catcalls, Microsoft is not about to give up after less than six months.

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