Windows RT Support Period Surprisingly Short

Dennis Faas's picture

Microsoft now promises it will support its new Windows RT operating system (OS) with security patches and updates for at least four-and-a-half years.

While that may seem like a long time, it's only half as long as Microsoft generally provides support for many of its other software products.

Windows RT is designed to power a number of portable devices, including Microsoft's own Surface tablet computer. RT is a trimmed-down version of Windows 8 that requires fewer, cheaper resources from a portable device.

"Mainstream" Support Phase to Last Until April 2017

Microsoft says it will support Windows RT until April 2017, a time period it refers to as the "Mainstream" support phase. (Source:

It's unlikely, however, that Microsoft will still be shipping devices using Windows RT in April 2017, though it's entirely possible people at that time will still be using devices based on that OS.

The four-plus year "Mainstream" support window is far smaller than the usual ten years of support Microsoft provides for many of its software products.

For example, Windows 8 will be supported for at least ten years. The aging Windows XP operating system, which first launched in late 2001, will finally lose support in another 500 days, after a total of some twelve years.

These lengthier support periods are known as "Extended" support. They have been offered for business software as well as Office Home and Student 2010 in the past.

Microsoft Beats Apple iPad Software Support

If all of this sounds like bad policy, then consider the fact that Apple rarely commits to fixed support schedules for its products, and often provides far shorter support periods than Microsoft.

For example, Apple has virtually terminated software support for its two-and-a-half-year-old first-generation iPad. Some experts suggest the iPad 2 could lose its software support by the middle of 2013. (Source:

Nevertheless, Microsoft's relatively short support window for Windows RT could be seen by consumers as an additional incentive to wait for Windows 8-equipped versions of the Surface tablet. Many observers expect them to reach retailers early next year.

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