Dell, Samsung, Lenovo to Use Windows 8 RT

Dennis Faas's picture

Microsoft has announced that four companies will sell tablet computers running Windows 8 RT, the version of the Windows 8 operating system (OS) designed for portable devices. A fifth company, Toshiba, has dropped out of that market, due to problems acquiring necessary components.

Virtually all Windows-based computing devices run on one of two types of processor: Intel's x86 chip and ARM. The former is used in almost all desktop, notebook, and netbook PCs, while the latter forms the core of nearly every tablet computer and smartphone.

Although less powerful, ARM processors are more energy efficient, so they are better for helping small batteries last longer.

The processor is so fundamental to the functions of a computing device that the device's operating system must be written specifically for it. To get Windows running smoothly on ARM-based devices, therefore, Microsoft had to develop a completely separate version.

Windows RT: Questionable Brand Name

The "RT" stands for 'runtime,' a technical term describing the way individual applications interact with a device's operating system. Having "RT" as a name earned the new OS some criticism for being consumer-unfriendly.

Some observers suggested that something like "Windows 8 Portable" would have been a better choice. But the name may not matter.

Windows RT won't be available for separate purchase. Instead, it will be sold, already installed, on certain devices. Manufacturers will likely brand these devices as "Windows" or "Windows 8" machines to capitalize on public awareness of the new OS.

Austek, Dell, Lenovo And Samsung All On Board

Microsoft had hoped some major manufacturers would offer machines running Windows 8 RT as soon as it is released, which will be at the same time as Windows 8.

That hope has now been fulfilled, as Austek, Dell, Lenovo, and Samsung have announced they will be selling Windows 8 RT tablet computers, though they haven't yet confirmed their release dates.

While details of specific models aren't available yet, Microsoft says they'll be a mix of iPad-like tablets and other devices that have either a removable or a fixed physical keyboard. (Source:

Toshiba had also been working on some RT devices, but now says it hasn't been able to procure enough parts from suppliers. It will now concentrate instead on making and selling Windows 8 notebook PCs. (Source:

Microsoft will also be making its own RT-based devices under the name 'Surface.' That decision has produced an unusual situation, as the software giant will now be competing directly against its own hardware partners.

Some experts have speculated this conflict might actually hurt Microsoft's relationship with these companies.

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