Some thoughts on Windows RT

After close to three years of laptop free, iPad-driven couch experience at home, I was recently put into the position to look for a new machine that can be used by my wife both at home and in her practice. And since my wife is used to Windows, and wants something she can run some dental software, and wants a keyboard, and doesn't want to spend too much money...

Well, after all was said and done, and after seing all the raves from some of my friends that still work at Microsoft about how awesome is the Windows RT they got for Christmas, I decided that maybe this is the answer. So I started reading about it on the internet. But of course, we all know one should not dig too deep in the internet, as one might find some quite disturbing things...

Like for example, this article on ArsTechnica. And here's how I read it:

1. "Windows RT can't join a domain, be a Remote Desktop host..."

Well, I am probably edge case user here. So, this is more of a personal rant. And frankly, Android or iOS can't do these either.

2. "...it lacks Windows Media Player and Windows Media Center."

If there's another app that can play media instead of Media Player, that's fine. And honestly, the lack of Media Center probably shouldn't be bugging me much, seeing how I gave up on it years ago. Nevertheless, I somehow find both these omissions insulting. :-/

3. "The only third-party applications allowed on Surface will be Metro-style applications bought from the Windows Store.", "...developers can't even port their applications to run on ARM..."

I can see some reasoning behind this decision. After all, Microsoft is trying to force developers to do touch-specific versions of their apps, so that customers get the best experience.

Or at least, that's how the theory goes. In practice, if I was a third-party developer with existing desktop app which i am forced to rewrite from scratch for Windows RT, I'll bite the bullet and just rewrite it for iOS and Android. Because here's the chinch - if I can't upgrade my existing users without making them pay again, these are not existing customers. They are for all intents and purposes new customers. So, I might as well chase new customers on platforms with better adoption.

But it's even worse than just the practicality. There's a class of apps on Windows desktop, that _can't_ be rewritten for Metro. And seeing how Office is currently one such application, and it comes for free with Windows RT, and it runs in desktop environment, and it works best with keyboard and mouse hooked up - well, if I am hooking keyboard and mouse for one application, might as well let me use that setup for other applications as well, like Paint.net for example.

Of course, if I was buying a couch device, something to just surf the internet and write the occasional email, that wouldn't be a big issue for me. But then again, I can do these just fine on iPad, or Nexus 7. The whole appeal of Windows RT is that it is supposed to be Windows. I personally am considering Surface to use it not only on the couch, but also in my wife's practice. Because that's what you do with Windows machine - it's a versatile workhorse of a productivity tool. That's the main advantage it's supposed to have to the other platforms. If not for that, what makes it beter that the competition?

Alas, this brings me to the last point...

4. "The Office apps that ship with Windows RT are not licensed for use in any commercial fashion, whether for profit or otherwise."

Wait, what? If I can't use Office on RT for business, why would I need it? I very seldom write personal documents in Word, or make personal spreadsheets in Excel. And for the rare occasions I do, I need few simple features that are present in both iOS office suite, and in Google Docs. And I can use both of these for business purposes. So Windows RT is in fact worse in that regard than the competition!

Seems the only viable option is to spend twice as much to get Surface Pro, in order to get something my wife could use in her business.

But at that price point, I might as well start looking at laptops and trade off the Microsoft brand for more power. Or I might even look at MacBook - yeah, it'll be slightly more expensive, but at least I know the hardware quality is proven, and I can always run Windows 8 on it for the few Windows-only things I might need.

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