Editorial

Surface 2 sends mixed messages about Microsoft's long-term Windows strategy


Microsoft's engineering executives recently said it would work on touch-based Office apps.

At Microsoft’s Surface 2 event in New York on Monday, Panos Panay, corporate vice president of the company’s Surface team, revealed the Windows marker is already planning the next three generations of its tablet line.

Panay’s announcement isn’t shocking, given how far ahead technology companies plan their products, yet the Surface 2 he revealed Monday sends conflicting messages about Microsoft’s strategy not just with the tablet itself, but also the company’s flagship operating system line. While Panay was busy touting desktop Office applications on the Surface 2, Microsoft hinted at a move away from the familiar interface on ARM-powered tablets.

Just four days before Panay hosted the Surface event in front of a crowded room of technology journalists, Microsoft confirmed it was working on Office apps for touch platforms, including the Metro interface found in Windows RT. Those apps would also come to other touch platforms, but a Microsoft-released roadmap emphasized that they will be released through the Windows Store in the company’s 2014 fiscal year, which ends on June 30, 2014 – likely months before the next Surface tablets are announced.

If those facts weren’t telling of the company’s direction, Terry Myerson, the recently named head of Microsoft’s operating system division, said there will soon be a common app platform – referring to Metro-style apps – across its devices.

“The first of [Microsoft’s operating system beliefs] is that we really should have one silicon interface for all of our devices,” he said at Microsoft’s Financial Analyst Meeting on Thursday. “We should have one set of developer APIs on all of our devices. And all of the apps we bring to end users should be available on all of our devices.”

Microsoft isn't sure what it wants to do with Windows RT's desktop

When Microsoft releases the new Office apps, there will be no applications remaining in the Windows RT desktop that lack Metro interface counterparts. Microsoft locked down the desktop in Windows RT, limiting its applications available to only Internet Explorer, the Office suite and any traditional software, such as Paint.

Essentially, Microsoft is sending potential Surface owners two very different messages: The desktop environment in Windows RT is amazing, but it’s not going to be necessary much longer.

Consumers aren’t the only ones who have noticed the odd dichotomy between Microsoft’s actions and statements. Windows 8 tablets have been plentiful, but Windows RT tablets are few and far between – largely because Microsoft’s hardware partners see little room for a tablet that has the traditional Windows interface but can’t run any desktop apps, save for the ones that come with it. Acer, Asus, HP, Lenovo, Samsung, Toshiba and more have all said they have no immediate plans for Windows RT tablets.

Acer President Jim Wong went so far as to say Windows RT has “no value,” and Toshiba executives have said Microsoft confused consumers with the ARM-based operating system.

A Microsoft representative told Neowin at Monday’s Surface event that silver was chosen as the sole color for the Surface 2 to differentiate it from the Surface Pro 2, which runs x86 applications and is black. Yet despite intentions to differentiate the ARM-powered tablet from the Intel-powered tablet, Microsoft’s done little to alleviate the confusion regarding their operating systems; in fact, the company may have created more.

While the version of the operating system found in the Surface RT was referred to as simply Windows RT, Microsoft’s taken to referring to the version found in Surface 2 as Windows RT 8.1, a name Panay used repeatedly during his presentation Monday. Why the name needs to be changed is anyone’s guess. Windows 8 – an operating system that can be installed on devices by users, unlike Windows RT – faced consumer derision because the Metro interface doesn’t lend itself to non-touchscreen desktop computers, an issue irrelevant to Windows RT, which isn’t found on any desktop computer.

Microsoft’s original Surface tablet failed in the marketplace, forcing the company to announce a $900 million write-down in July, primarily because it overestimated interest in the device. It’s unlikely Microsoft will make the same massive miscalculation again, but perhaps the company shouldn’t ask what consumers aren’t doing and instead ask what it’s doing.

Perhaps Microsoft should start by asking a simple introspective question: Why are two interfaces being pushed on consumers when each clearly excels, based on input method, on different devices?

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77 Comments

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ho ho ho. welcome to the world of incremental product updates. let's see how your ant-boys like you now. lol.

jesus, this again.......

"Microsoft locked down the desktop in Windows RT, limiting its applications available to only Internet Explorer, the Office suite and any traditional software, such as Paint."

they did not "lock it down", its ARM so x86 apps wont run. Not adding additional code to enable x86 apps to run is not the same as 'locking down'.

All apps on RT have to be made for the winRT runtime, and made available in the store, this is a good thing as it creates a platform where all code is checked and consumers can buy knowing that they are being looked after and are secure.

duddit2 said,
jesus, this again.......

"Microsoft locked down the desktop in Windows RT, limiting its applications available to only Internet Explorer, the Office suite and any traditional software, such as Paint."

they did not "lock it down", its ARM so x86 apps wont run. Not adding additional code to enable x86 apps to run is not the same as 'locking down'.

All apps on RT have to be made for the winRT runtime, and made available in the store, this is a good thing as it creates a platform where all code is checked and consumers can buy knowing that they are being looked after and are secure.


...I'm aware of that. Nothing in my article indicated otherwise, so you're arguing with what something that wasn't said.

Microsoft won't approve ARM-based desktop applications in Windows RT, even though some developers have requested to recompile and release their apps for it. So, yes, that's locking it down, despite what you may try to mask with rhetoric.

Anthony Tosie said,

...I'm aware of that. Nothing in my article indicated otherwise, so you're arguing with what something that wasn't said.

Microsoft won't approve ARM-based desktop applications in Windows RT, even though some developers have requested to recompile and release their apps for it. So, yes, that's locking it down, despite what you may try to mask with rhetoric.

But you talk as though its a specific decision to 'ock down the desktop' when that's not the case, the specific decision is to have all apps publish through a single store using a common language. This guarantees app isolation, apps have to be approved so are inherently secure and not scammy etc etc. This is the decision, the fact that MS wont then say 'ok' to a request that a recompiled app can be installed as per usual is a side effect of the core decision mentioned above.

What I'm saying is the way you talk about it is misleading, the 'decision' was as above, a 'side effect' is no traditional installers and apps running on desktop.

Its a good thing as well when you take into account the future goal of a common framework, and hell if you want to use full desktop apps use a full desktop OS (LIKE Windows 8 and NOT RT) - it like saying apple locked down iOS so that OSx apps couldn't be installed..................the only reason for a desktop in RT was for the transition of office, core apps and settings.

duddit2 said,

But you talk as though its a specific decision to 'ock down the desktop' when that's not the case, the specific decision is to have all apps publish through a single store using a common language. This guarantees app isolation, apps have to be approved so are inherently secure and not scammy etc etc. This is the decision, the fact that MS wont then say 'ok' to a request that a recompiled app can be installed as per usual is a side effect of the core decision mentioned above.

What I'm saying is the way you talk about it is misleading, the 'decision' was as above, a 'side effect' is no traditional installers and apps running on desktop.

Its a good thing as well when you take into account the future goal of a common framework, and hell if you want to use full desktop apps use a full desktop OS (LIKE Windows 8 and NOT RT) - it like saying apple locked down iOS so that OSx apps couldn't be installed..................the only reason for a desktop in RT was for the transition of office, core apps and settings.


All you're doing is reframing Microsoft's decision.

Microsoft already publishes x86 desktop apps through the Windows Store -- yes, the same store used to sell Metro apps, which kind of nullifies the point you were attempting to make. Windows RT was sandboxed in a conscious decision by Microsoft. It could have allowed Windows RT desktop applications to be published to the Windows Store (and had an approval process), it simply made the decision not to.

There's nothing misleading about what I wrote, you simply don't agree with it, and that's fine. More than one opinion is allowed -- that doesn't make the one you don't agree with misleading.

Anthony Tosie said,

All you're doing is reframing Microsoft's decision.

Microsoft already publishes x86 desktop apps through the Windows Store -- yes, the same store used to sell Metro apps, which kind of nullifies the point you were attempting to make. Windows RT was sandboxed in a conscious decision by Microsoft. It could have allowed Windows RT desktop applications to be published to the Windows Store (and had an approval process), it simply made the decision not to.

There's nothing misleading about what I wrote, you simply don't agree with it, and that's fine. More than one opinion is allowed -- that doesn't make the one you don't agree with misleading.

x86 Apps are not published on the store, they are listed and link out to the website but nothing is integrated and apps are not published to it. If its an x86 app its listed only, you have to follow the link and download as per usual.

My biggest worry about picking Windows RT tablet is that MS might abandon it and we will be stuck with an expensive device with no apps. This comes from what MS did with Zune although i realize that impending launch of WP and it just being launched in US and Canada contributed to its demise.

Can anyone confirm that apps submitted to Windows Store are required to run on ARM too?

StandingInAlley said,
My biggest worry about picking Windows RT tablet is that MS might abandon it and we will be stuck with an expensive device with no apps. This comes from what MS did with Zune although i realize that impending launch of WP and it just being launched in US and Canada contributed to its demise.

Can anyone confirm that apps submitted to Windows Store are required to run on ARM too?

The modern interface is going nowhere and I don't believe RT is going anywhere either, but no it wont be abandoned.

The shift towards a single platform can't come quick enough. It's comical when a company like Microsoft complains at fragmentation in the market and then creates their own!

Yeah 12+ years ago MS wasn't fragmented at all, Win9x, NT, CE... bit later Singularity and Midori... Even some Unix added into their mix.

No they always been a 1 OS kinda company... no?

Now its all NT, won't be long and if you compile an app for RT, it will run on Win8, Windows RT and Windows Phone.

Yeah they created a huge fragmentation....

*sarcasm detected* It's one thing to complain at Google for their past mistakes, it's another to introduce even more fragmentation when they're the ones complaining about it

Shadowzz said,
Now its all NT, won't be long and if you compile an app for RT, it will run on Win8, Windows RT and Windows Phone.

You forgot XBOX ONE.

Stick with Windows-7 on one's laptop or desktop. Let Microsoft play around with the Surface fad by either letting it fade away into oblivion or getting fixed into something more useful than just a niche in the PC spectrum.

The Surface series tablets are going to continue to fail until Microsoft cleans up several issues that they have seemed to propagate with Surface 2 versus eradicate.

1.) Multiple architecture surface tablets is flooding their niche market, confusing the consumer base, and allowing the surface tablet to essentially cannibalize the market for the Surface RT. This lead to multiple OS's to support, app issues where fragmentation in the Windows Store exist of which app runs on which tablet. Lastly trying to explain the mass confusion of which surface is needed/better for a customer only to explain that one can't run desktop apps while the other can, but it has better battery life, etc. There essentially is no way to overcome this confusion with a multiple 'surface' device market.

The answer... look at Apple. iPad running iOS. Period. One device, one architecture, one unified OS that spans iPad, iPhone, & iPod. This could be solved. Microsoft needs to ditch one of the architectures and push all support behind the one device consumer clarification wise, app store wise, etc.

2.) Windows 8...err RT... err 8.1... errr Windows something needs to leave it's identity crisis that Microsoft has given the PC and tablet market. Here is an OS trying to be everything for everyone on every device. Simply impossible the way MS has implemented it. Windows 8 is almost a multiple personality disorder OS. It has the metro/modern interface with touch features which 90% of my customers abhor with vile passion. It makes using the desktop PC almost useless to them until they get a traditional start button app installed to at least disable the charms bar (is there anything really charming about it??!) and other metro features and make it at least semi usable.

Yet on the surface tablets, they are trying to run the classic desktop interface where Metro is actually designed to run and run well. Something I learned as a consumer since the Windows CE days is that a desktop interface on a mobile device is a pain to use, even with a stylus or bluetooth mouse and other 'desktop accessories'. So here we have an OS trying to bring touchscreen only features to a desktop PC which makes the PC useless, as well as trying to bring desktop only features to a mobile device which makes it strenuous to use a mobile device that way.

Again, look at Apple. An OS that has the majority of shared code across multiple devices, yet the interfaces for each individual device are not cheaply ported over to another device ruining the user experience. The touch only setup of iPad, iPod, and iPhone aren't forced on OSX on the desktop or vice versa. Yet the underlying code is shared if not a majority of it being identical allowing device specific features to be added with ease on each different device.

At the end of the day Microsoft has shown they are not nor never have been innovative. They simply are smart at making business decisions, not capturing the love and hence wallets of consumers the way Apple has. I'm afraid the OS and surface aspects here are more business decisions than innovative decisions and in the end, it hurts the consumers and their own bottom line as they are driving away potential buyers to other manufacturers.

Sorry to be blunt like this but
>Microsoft isn't sure what it wants to do with Windows RT's desktop
This proves you have no idea what you are talking about. They are sure what they want to do with RT's desktop: it will remain just as it is now for a long time.

Surface RT/2 has the power to drive multiple monitors if needed and run full featured office with browser etc in that. There is simply no reason to remove that functionality.

Disagreeing with what I wrote doesn't mean I don't know what I'm talking about -- ease up on the personal attacks.

I'm aware of the monitor support -- I own a Surface RT myself. But it's an essentially worthless feature when all you can use in the desktop is Office and Internet Explorer. Desktop multitasking being restricted to a productivity suite and single browser isn't the desktop multitasking I -- and I'd wager most people -- want. And there's really no need for the external monitor when you're restricted to those applications.

Anthony Tosie said,
Disagreeing with what I wrote doesn't mean I don't know what I'm talking about -- ease up on the personal attacks.

I'm aware of the monitor support -- I own a Surface RT myself. But it's an essentially worthless feature when all you can use in the desktop is Office and Internet Explorer. Desktop multitasking being restricted to a productivity suite and single browser isn't the desktop multitasking I -- and I'd wager most people -- want. And there's really no need for the external monitor when you're restricted to those applications.

The desktop is a dead in Windows RT. No offense, Anthony, but we've known this from the beginning way back during the Windows 8/RT betas. If you need desktop apps, Microsoft provides to you Windows 8 Pro. Otherwise, Windows RT is an iPad/iOS competitor that is meant to be strictly a tablet OS. Unfortunately, Microsoft needs the desktop for a few compatibility issues they were not able to solve by Windows 8's GA.

Have you used Windows RT 8.1? I don't see the desktop AT ALL, when I'm not using Office.

The only ones wanting to run desktop junk in RT are tech pundits with too much time on their hands. Consumers have largely abandoned the desktop in favor of mobile OS's. There is NO reason to be wanting to torture yourself by running kludgy desktop software on a device meant for consumer level stuff.

Buy a laptop or invest in a Surface Pro. That's why they're there.

Dot Matrix said,

The desktop is a dead in Windows RT. No offense, Anthony, but we've known this from the beginning way back during the Windows 8/RT betas. If you need desktop apps, Microsoft provides to you Windows 8 Pro. Otherwise, Windows RT is an iPad/iOS competitor that is meant to be strictly a tablet OS. Unfortunately, Microsoft needs the desktop for a few compatibility issues they were not able to solve by Windows 8's GA.

Have you used Windows RT 8.1? I don't see the desktop AT ALL, when I'm not using Office.

The only ones wanting to run desktop junk in RT are tech pundits with too much time on their hands. Consumers have largely abandoned the desktop in favor of mobile OS's. There is NO reason to be wanting to torture yourself by running kludgy desktop software on a device meant for consumer level stuff.

Buy a laptop or invest in a Surface Pro. That's why they're there.


If you read the responses to this article, you'll see there are plenty of people who don't agree. And there were even more when I wrote an article about Windows RT's importance in tablets about a year ago: http://www.neowin.net/news/win...is-microsofts-tablet-future

Yes, I've been using the Windows RT 8.1 preview since the day it was released.

Anthony Tosie said,
Disagreeing with what I wrote doesn't mean I don't know what I'm talking about -- ease up on the personal attacks.

I'm aware of the monitor support -- I own a Surface RT myself. But it's an essentially worthless feature when all you can use in the desktop is Office and Internet Explorer. Desktop multitasking being restricted to a productivity suite and single browser isn't the desktop multitasking I -- and I'd wager most people -- want. And there's really no need for the external monitor when you're restricted to those applications.


By your logic, MS should have removed MS-DOS from windows xp (or 98), agreed?

Microsoft is the only software company in the world which has a track record to support legacy things for long time. I don't see desktop going away in RT anytime soon. Here is why:
- it supports IE and *full* office (optimized for kb/mouse). This is a must for people at professional work. Ofc they can use touch version of office when needed, but that doesn't mean they have to use that while doing heavy work.
- it supports a file explorer that has been refined for years
- it supports various other system apps (cmd etc) which are unable to run in metro due to sandbox model.

The thing that will happen is more and more apps (calculator, charmap etc) will get replaced with metro apps and eventually desktop on rt will become like dos in post xp era where you only start it if you really needed. You will probably be able to unpin desktop tile and it will be unpinned by default.

PS: Sorry if I have offended you; didn't mean to come out that way.

Why does there have to be a dead desktop in every tech article? That's like saying chairs are going to be replaced with lightweight fold-able stools.. seriously.. who is going to WORK on a tablet all day? It's just not practical... or ergonomic at all. We have laptops and people cannot, or should not, be on them for long periods of time due to the damage they do to your body.

This whole message that Microsoft has more than one product that is being confused with another product being produced at the same time is just so lame. With the money that Microsoft is asking for these products, at least we consumers should not have to endure mixed messages at every launch. Call it what you want.I'm not buying it now.

I keep hearing this word confusion, being thrown around,without any proof whatsoever that anyone is confused. its such a simple concept,that anyone walking into a retailer could be taught the differences by the employees that hound the customers like dog on raw meat whenever they step into the store.

I've heard it suggested that it's helpful to think of Windows as two operating systems; one is old and mature (Win32), the other fresh but still has a ways to go (WinRT), so it has to rely on the older OS.

Im looking forward to Windows RT being able to stand alone. It'll help the ARM devices, and maybe even Windows Phone.

I get confused trying to explain it to users myself. A lot of things about Windows 8 are confusing but I still love it

If you're going to offer "The Desktop" to your RT users because you can't come out with Office RT (Modern UI), maybe you should let the desktop be used for anything else.... It's there, let them use it if they want.

I'm sure that many devs would be happy to recompile desktop apps to run under ARM...

And with the Touch/Type cover, you do have a mouse and keyboard setup, so, using a desktop app on the Surface RT/2 is not that bizarre.... Heck, you can even use and external display!

TruckWEB said,
If you're going to offer "The Desktop" to your RT users because you can't come out with Office RT (Modern UI), maybe you should let the desktop be used for anything else.... It's there, let them use it if they want.

I'm sure that many devs would be happy to recompile desktop apps to run under ARM...

And with the Touch/Type cover, you do have a mouse and keyboard setup, so, using a desktop app on the Surface RT/2 is not that bizarre.... Heck, you can even use and external display!

If you think many devs are going to spend the time and effort recompiling for ARM for such a small market share OS, you're seriously mistaken.

Besides, did you just conveniently miss the part of this article when they said that touch versions of Office are in the works? These when released will remove the last vestige of requirement for the desktop on RT and we can can finally hide/remove the desktop tile.

Surface RT/2 is a consumer device akin to the iPad, what you're suggesting is wishful thinking and not going to happen.

TCLN Ryster said,

Besides, did you just conveniently miss the part of this article when they said that touch versions of Office are in the works? These when released will remove the last vestige of requirement for the desktop on RT and we can can finally hide/remove the desktop tile.

I am really eager to see what Metro Office will look like and, more important, what kind of functionalities will be available compared to the desktop edition.
Office is one of the main MS cash cows and, by far more important, the arch key that allows MS to dominate the business market.

Translation...

As the WinRT API evolves with a richer set of APIs to replace Win32(etc), the need for applications developed on the desktop will decline as they will be implemented in the newer API set. (Microsoft is already encouraging this by not providing ARM Win32/etc development tools.)


Side Notes...

Microsoft's goals are to provide true application portability, as the core NT OS model allows for architectural independence, and WinRT offers portability at an upper layer to further extend this independence.

This is a 'holy grail' that the computing world going back to early Unix and Posix to even Java have wanted to offer the world, and because previous attempts were only agnostic from the bottom up or the top down, failed in compatibility and performance.

By approaching this from the bottom up and top down, Microsoft's approach offers nearly seamless Application compatibility along with native performance on any type of hardware.

(NT's design allows portability to take advantage of more architecture features and performance than other OS designs.)


Will this happen this year or the next? Probably not, as there are still pieces of functionality missing from WinRT. WinRT needs time to mature and adapt features from other existing Microsoft technologies and existing frameworks.


The first thing we will see is the merger of WinRT and WP8's frameworks, allowing a single CLR to sit underneath WP8 Apps and Windows 8 Apps, with the UI adapting to the device and giving the users access to features not normally found on their device form factor.
(For example Ink/Pen and handwriting is fully supported on WinRT, but hasn't been available to WP8 devices.) -This is another 'feature/technology' that Windows RT/Surface has over Android and the iPad.


Does this mean the end of the desktop on tablets? Nope, as there will always be some form of the desktop available. Even if it is just a hybrid VM version that looks like it does on Windows 8, but in code is essentially running inside a secure VM-subsystem.


Even today a Surface Pro tablet has HyperV built in, and can easily run Linux, FreeBSD, and most previous Windows OSes extremely well. For the curious, this is simple stuff: http://pocketnow.com/2013/02/21/linux-surface-pro-hyper-v

If at first you don't succeed..... go home? Absolutely not.

In order to break into a market with one dominant player (Apple, with with iPads), one strategy is needed and one alone.... persistence. You don't just give up after your initial attempt, that's just stupid. As is your comment.

TCLN Ryster said,
If at first you don't succeed..... go home? Absolutely not.

In order to break into a market with one dominant player (Apple, with with iPads), one strategy is needed and one alone.... persistence. You don't just give up after your initial attempt, that's just stupid. As is your comment.

Well it is not like MS did not give up in the past:
Zune player
MS Money
Office Accounting Professional (IMO a software light years ahead of Quicken.....)
What I mean is that although, in general terms, I agree with you it is also true that MS has abandoned projects in the past.

Fritzly said,

Well it is not like MS did not give up in the past:
.

It seems they can't give up this time without loosing face. There's a big pressure.

bigmehdi said,

It seems they can't give up this time without loosing face. There's a big pressure.

And nor should they... with good app support (which admittedly isn't there yet, but is improving daily), the Surface tablets are genuinely great products.

Why are two interfaces being pushed on consumers when each clearly excels, based on input method, on different devices?

Because Metro is still early in development and reliant on the desktop for some very important things like settings, good file management, and MS Office. Eventually the desktop will be dropped entirely from ARM, but before that is done the Office team needs to redesign MS Office for touch compatibility. And they need to do that not just for Surface or Windows, but for iPad and Android.

As far as why does the desktop PC have Metro, well that's because Microsoft believes all PCs are going to adopt touch screens. Regardless of whether it is a touch screen all-in-one or touch laptop or tablet, everything is moving towards touch. And since everything is moving towards touch Metro is needed across all versions of Windows. Practically speaking if Microsoft had launched the Windows app Store with modern touch enabled software only on Windows tablets then very few developers would have any reason to pay attention to the app store. They never would have gotten to 140,000 apps this quickly if Metro was not installed on every single Windows 8 PC.

Microsoft believes the future of computing is mouse, keyboard, and touch on every single computer. Metro is essential and the live tiles and app snapping are very useful regardless of what device you are on. I primarily use my tablet with a mouse and keyboard even though all of the apps I use are touch enabled.

The editorial is full of cringe. I applaud you for trying to explain this, but it has been 2 years now and people still don't believe/understand. I hope windows 9 will be the clear signal.

Microsoft hasn't officially announce Metro Office apps, so of course they're still going to show off the desktop apps running on Windows RT. Why are tech pundits overly concerned with Windows RT not running kludgy desktop apps, yet not with iOS? Also, what is wrong with Metro on the desktop?

Nope nope nope nope and NOPE! Pretty sure getting into a "discussion" with you on this isn't worth the time or headaches.

In the end, you'll believe what you believe. Others will think differently. Let's just leave it at that.

dead.cell said,
Nope nope nope nope and NOPE! Pretty sure getting into a "discussion" with you on this isn't worth the time or headaches.

In the end, you'll believe what you believe. Others will think differently. Let's just leave it at that.

They're serious questions.

adrynalyne said,
Because iOS doesn't boast a worthless desktop?

But we have known *FROM DAY ONE* That the desktop was a needed legacy component while Microsoft continues work developing for Metro. Why are tech pundits still not understanding this? What consumers are setting out to run desktop apps? They've abandoned them *en masse* for tablet and smartphone apps.

People bitch about Google releasing things before they are finished. If RT is as unfinished as you say, because they are still working on Metro, then Microsoft shouldn't get a pass either.

adrynalyne said,
People bitch about Google releasing things before they are finished. If RT is as unfinished as you say, because they are still working on Metro, then Microsoft shouldn't get a pass either.

Windows RT isn't unfinished. It's a stable product that works great on my Surface, *Office* is unfinished, and needs developed for Metro yet, and that's exactly what Microsoft is working on.

Dot Matrix said,

But we have known *FROM DAY ONE* That the desktop was a needed legacy component while Microsoft continues work developing for Metro. Why are tech pundits still not understanding this? What consumers are setting out to run desktop apps? They've abandoned them *en masse* for tablet and smartphone apps.

All the Tablet I have owned since 2001 have had a functional desktop, my actual one runs W8.1 Pro.
The desktop might become a "legacy" but besides the fact that, if it will happen. it is not going to be any time soon we do not also know if it will be Metro or some other paradigm that will replace it; just check, for example, the clip produced by MS about Office 2017 and its follow-up: the software shown does not resemble at all Metro. Also note that when I say Metro I do not refer to the Start Screen but the Metro apps which, at least the vast majority of them, lack a lot of the functionalities present in their Desktop counterparts; Metro could evolve in a way to be able to allow the same functionalities while remaining as it is or it may evolve in a way that will not resemble what we see today.

Dot Matrix said,

Windows RT isn't unfinished. It's a stable product that works great on my Surface, *Office* is unfinished, and needs developed for Metro yet, and that's exactly what Microsoft is working on.


Agree, but when Modern UI Office comes, there should be an option to disable desktop, when they move all/most features to Modern UI (regedit, jumplists, all settings)

ians18 said,

Agree, but when Modern UI Office comes, there should be an option to disable desktop, when they move all/most features to Modern UI (regedit, jumplists, all settings)

In Windows 8.1, all you have to do is unpin it from the Start Screen. I never see it unless I click on Office.

ians18 said,
I know you can unpin it, but there are still other things that jump you to the desktop such as control panel.

Not on 8.1, it shouldn't, no.

"Essentially, Microsoft is sending potential Surface owners two very different messages: The desktop environment in Windows RT is amazing"

What? When did MS say that? I watched the whole event and I don't think they ever even showed the desktop on Surface 2, let alone said it was amazing.

"Windows 8.1 - an operating system that can be installed on devices by users, unlike Windows RT 8.1 "

Again wrong. RT 8.1 can be installed on all RT devices that have been released. Why is this confusing, I'm confused by your confusion. Metro is Windows now. The desktop is a leftover like MS DOS. The version number is the same because Metro is the same across the operating system.

Edited by Avatar Roku, Sep 24 2013, 10:43pm :

Avatar Roku said,
"Essentially, Microsoft is sending potential Surface owners two very different messages: The desktop environment in Windows RT is amazing"

What? When did MS say that? I watched the whole event and I don't think they ever even showed the desktop on Surface 2, let alone said it was amazing.

"Windows 8.1 - an operating system that can be installed on devices by users, unlike Windows RT 8.1 "

Again wrong. RT 8.1 can be installed on all RT devices that have been released. Why is this confusing, I'm confused by your confusion. Metro is Windows now. The desktop is a leftover like MS DOS. The version number is the same because Metro is the same across the operating system.

They showed Office running on the desktop, but never boasted desktop capabilities.

Avatar Roku said,
"Essentially, Microsoft is sending potential Surface owners two very different messages: The desktop environment in Windows RT is amazing"

What? When did MS say that? I watched the whole event and I don't think they ever even showed the desktop on Surface 2, let alone said it was amazing.

"Windows 8.1 - an operating system that can be installed on devices by users, unlike Windows RT 8.1 "

Again wrong. RT 8.1 can be installed on all RT devices that have been released. Why is this confusing, I'm confused by your confusion. Metro is Windows now. The desktop is a leftover like MS DOS. The version number is the same because Metro is the same across the operating system.


We must have been watching very different events. Panay harped on the productivity so many times I lost count, and he was referring to Office most of those times.

The update can be installed, the operating system cannot. Only OEMs can get Windows RT.

Write down, not write off. They didn't loose money, they just weren't going to earn it. They'll still make money off the remaining Surface RT's left.

People that have never done accounting probably don't understand that difference. To clarify:

You report to the market you plan to make 2 billion off an investment
You find out later you'll only make 1.2 billion
You now have report the 800 million dollar drop in the anticipated earnings.

Silver47 said,
Write down, not write off. They didn't loose money, they just weren't going to earn it. They'll still make money off the remaining Surface RT's left.

Oops, good catch -- I'll fix that. Thanks!

As long as MS markets Surface 2 vs Surface Pro 2 properly, then the mixed messaging doesn't have to be a problem.


Seriously, its not hard to tell the world that the Surface 2 is meant as a media consumption tablet with its own app store only. Surface Pro 2 is a mobile pc that gives you the desktop you expect and need along with a mobile ui for the flexibility on a touch based device.

I think there is room for both, but it will require MS pushing the message correctly and getting Office on Metro so that they can really move away from the desktop on RT devices. They also need to closely monitor pricing and adjust it down as needed.

I think they've already goofed up by continuing to use the same name. I don't think adding "pro" is enough to tell people that it's a completely different product. Usually pro is used to indicate a higher end version of the same product.

trooper11 said,
As long as MS markets Surface 2 vs Surface Pro 2 properly, then the mixed messaging doesn't have to be a problem.


Seriously, its not hard to tell the world that the Surface 2 is meant as a media consumption tablet with its own app store only. Surface Pro 2 is a mobile pc that gives you the desktop you expect and need along with a mobile ui for the flexibility on a touch based device.

I think there is room for both, but it will require MS pushing the message correctly and getting Office on Metro so that they can really move away from the desktop on RT devices. They also need to closely monitor pricing and adjust it down as needed.

Therefore MS should have called them "Surface Media" and "Surface Pro".

Maybe, but I still don't get why it would be hard to do that with Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2.

I don't think its the name that is the problem between these two. It just has to be sold correctly.

Fritzly said,

Therefore MS should have called them "Surface Media" and "Surface Pro".

Does those names indicate that you can't do media on the surface pro?

If I want to be stupid, I can make anything confusing.

What's the difference between the ipad 2 and the ipad 3, is it that the ipad 3 has three times the space.

The name doesn't matter, it's people seeing a desktop and thinking that they can add apps. All MS needed to do was complete remove the desktop from the none pro models., then they can name it whatever they want.

uxo22 said,

Does those names indicate that you can't do media on the surface pro?

If I want to be stupid, I can make anything confusing.

What's the difference between the ipad 2 and the ipad 3, is it that the ipad 3 has three times the space.

The name doesn't matter, it's people seeing a desktop and thinking that they can add apps. All MS needed to do was complete remove the desktop from the none pro models., then they can name it whatever they want.

The original Tablet concept characterized a full functional replacement for a laptop plus handwriting capabilities; the iPad is, basically, a "media consumption" device and in spite of the fact that the Surface has Office installed it does not run win 32 apps.
MS, at least for the time being, cannot remove the desktop hence the need to differentiate for non technical people the difference between "Surface" and "Surface Pro". It appears that "Surface RT" and "Surface Pro" confused people and I do not think that just dropping the RT will improve the situation.

Fritzly said,

The original Tablet concept characterized a full functional replacement for a laptop plus handwriting capabilities; the iPad is, basically, a "media consumption" device and in spite of the fact that the Surface has Office installed it does not run win 32 apps.
MS, at least for the time being, cannot remove the desktop hence the need to differentiate for non technical people the difference between "Surface" and "Surface Pro". It appears that "Surface RT" and "Surface Pro" confused people and I do not think that just dropping the RT will improve the situation.

I agree with you 100%. However, we're talking about Surface and not the original concept behind tablets. I understand that perhaps the first time someone used RT they may be confused with the desktop, however after realizing that, they should not have any problems with that. I must have 5-10 people a month come to me to ask advice on what they should buy when it comes to computers and photography. I am sure that many other people have the same type of sources. All it takes is a little research and patience to pick the device for you without becoming helplessly confused as people would want you to believe.

Apple is starting to chant business use for ipads, will we also hear the they are confusing people. Will people that bought ipads for business want to run the same apps that they run on their MACS and realize that it is not a MAC replacement?

Sometimes, Microsoft is judged by a different set of rules than the others and I just think it's unfair. You can blame 75% of that on the bloggers due to them not being held accountable for their recklessness.

That last comment (the two-devices comment) clearly indicates that the author is STILL thinking of ModernUI as touch-only or touch-first, despite there not being any real data that indicates it is any such thing. Shouldn't this be in the Editorial section?