Windows RT desktop mode gets detailed, better than expected

Windows RT has opened up a new world of possibilities for Microsoft as well as consumers. Since the tablets are not restricted to either AMD or Intel CPUs, the product supply chain for these tablets will be more competitive and should offer lower priced consumer tablets. While Microsoft has given us a few nuggets of information in the past about the platform, one of the bigger outstanding question was how would the desktop mode work on WOA tablets.

At IFA, a number of Windows RT tablets have been announced and the folks at The Verge were able to get their hands on one of the Samsung models. While we expected that Office and Internet Explorer would be available on Windows RT, it looks like the desktop is more feature complete than expected. File Explore, Paint and Notepad are all available, which is a fantastic sign that Windows RT will have a proper file browser unlike iOS and that other core Microsoft apps will be available too. 

When you look at the other announcements for Windows RT, you can begin to see this will not be a second-tier platform for Microsoft. Nvidia has announced that Unreal Engine 3 has been ported to Windows RT which will give the platform yet another boost in terms of gaming that should help drive the tablet sales.

That takeaway here is that Windows RT is going to be much closer in terms of functionality to proper Windows 8 than we expected. This is certainly encouraging that the platform will be quite robust out of the box which should make the tablets even more attractive. While price points still are a bit of a mystery, if Microsoft delivers the Surface RT at $199 with the same functionality as shown in the Samsung tablet with Windows RT, it won't be just a home-run, it will be a grand-slam. 

Source: The Verge

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Does it at least have windows media player? wmp is a lot better then the crappy music app WRT has. and I hate wmp and I still think it's better. LOL.

The only thing that is still pushing me from RT to x86 Pro is the fact you cannot run plugins like Silverlight in the browser on Windows RT.

Actually Flash will be supported though based on a whitelist. RT will check if the site that wants to use Flash is a whitelisted site if so it will let it use the Flash.

AtriusNY said,
Actually Flash will be supported though based on a whitelist. RT will check if the site that wants to use Flash is a whitelisted site if so it will let it use the Flash.

But not silverlight.

I'm pretty sure it would be easier to use the Desktop RT apps with pen input rather than multi-touch. Wonder if the device the demo-er is using has a pen and whether he thought about using it.

I was hoping to just leave all the legacy products behind. I have to get a new desktop so this is not an issue. I just want access to an external drive thru a port. This contains only music and photos. I want the experience of RT I want to be on the bleeding edge. You can't have that experience with the ball and chain of X86 legacy. That means I'll have to buy RT apps I had to buy WP apps I'm excited about the experience

Fear not. These simple apps will get "Modern UI" equivalent very soon considering how easy they are to write.
But honestly, I wish they come in a more "touch-first" adapted form where they cleverly use the new interface.

I was expecting Explorer, but not Notepad. Seriously, why aren't there WinRT apps equivalent to Notepad, Paint, Calculator and WordPad?

>FoxieFoxie said,

>The Verge is the most biased and anti MS site I have ever know.

Please. The post was written by Tom Warren who came from the MS exclusive (and friendly) winrumors site. If you think he is the most anti MS person on the web you obviously have never spent any time outside of neowin.

The fact is that touch mode is just terrible. It is. Using the file manager with a touch screen is just as bad as it was with XP which is pretty baffling. I know a lot of people are up in ams up Win8's big changes changes (the same type who outraged over the start menu back in '95) but I think they didn't go far enough and should have gotten rid standard explorer (in RT not in Pro) and made RT TOTALLY touch including Office and Metro style file browser. Instead they have picked a terrible course making it so different that it spooks people but not different enough to justify the changes.

>TheCyberKnight said:

>It is as bad as expected....Microsoft should have provided Windows RT devices with the "Modern UI" experience only and nothing else.

100% A fully Modern/touch UI at $200-$300 with touch office installed you have a iPad killer and a real reason for RT to exist. No question. As it is now you have Pro which is a laptop killer and RT which is..just half assed. Power users won't be happy with the app restrictions and neophytes won't know what the hell to do with desktop mode.

Edited by poster99000, Aug 31 2012, 3:14pm :

Better than expected? No it is not.

It is as bad as expected. Providing Notepad, Paint and being able to create folders provides nothing good for a "touch-first" device. The classic desktop user experience combined to a 10" screen is terribly bad to use without a keyboard and there is not much a ribbon can do to help here.

Microsoft should have provided Windows RT devices with the "Modern UI" experience only and nothing else. A full "touch-first" experience where you never have to revert to the old desktop mode. These two worlds ("Modern UI" and "desktop") just don't mix well on keyboardless devices.

If one really needs the "desktop mode", an x64 based device and the appropriate input hardware will make it work.

This will be Windows 8 most akward design decision dnd likely become its competitors most pointed out design flaw. What a waste.

I still cannot figure out how people expect a 10" tablet with office and a lot more capablabity to sell for $199 when you can bearly find a 7" tablet for that price. The kindle fire sold for $199 my wife has one and the only thing I see it used for is reading and my daughter watch netflix on it. I see no one suggesting that Apple, Samsung, HTC, Google or Asus sell a 10" tablet for that price.

Edited by copjake, Aug 31 2012, 2:43pm :

The Verge is the most biased and anti MS site I have ever know.

Did you notice that they did not even have touch mode enabled for the Office?

Yeah, their editors are clueless when it comes to Microsoft.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hPdQDtzpODQ

Their office review: nothing new in excel, ribbon sucks, you can now hide it (was available for years)

FoxieFoxie said,
Did you notice that they did not even have touch mode enabled for the Office?
Actually, the touch mode has been enabled in the video:

Screenshot of the video
http://img20.imageshack.us/img20/1218/thevergeexcel2013.jpg

Excel 2013 with touch mode enabled
http://img845.imageshack.us/im...9/excel2013touchenabled.png

Excel 2013 with touch mode deactivated
http://img836.imageshack.us/im...excel2013touchdeactivat.png

The main issue is Excel 2013 seems to be not very responsive in this Windows RT preview.

FoxieFoxie said,
The Verge is the most biased and anti MS site I have ever know.

Did you notice that they did not even have touch mode enabled for the Office?

Yeah, their editors are clueless when it comes to Microsoft.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hPdQDtzpODQ

Their office review: nothing new in excel, ribbon sucks, you can now hide it (was available for years)

Have you use Office 2013 on a tablet with touch only?

I did and it is NOT fun to use at all. The current Office was not design for a "touch-first" experience. And even if Microsoft added helpers like the "touch mode", it just barely eases the pain. But tust me, the pain is still there.

I still hope the short schedule explains why Microsoft did not create scaled down, "Modern UI" versions of the major Office applications and that they will come soon.

Because forcing "touch-first" users to revert to the "desktop mode" is not a good idea.

yves707 said,
a dealbreaker for me is that Windows RT wont have Outlook, at least as far as I know.... (

There is no Outlook so you are pushed to use Windows 8, not RT.

Why is that an issue? You log in to the tablet with your Microsoft account which will make your mail calendar and (hopefully) notes sync with Outlook (or any Exchange Active Sync service) through the cloud.

This (the RT tablet) is a consumer oriented device, Outlook is business/enterprise application so you'll see it on the pro tablets. Does anyone ever pay attention when these devices get announced.. seriously

paulheu said,
Why is that an issue? You log in to the tablet with your Microsoft account which will make your mail calendar and (hopefully) notes sync with Outlook (or any Exchange Active Sync service) through the cloud.

Sync with what? Is there a local mail client on the tablet that supports sync to the device?

paulheu said,
This (the RT tablet) is a consumer oriented device, Outlook is business/enterprise application.....

Are you kidding, Outlook is a business application???

So running outlook on Windows Mobile and now Windows Phone is permitted but not on a tablet???

Yet Office isn't an enterprise application !??? and they allow a cut down version of it on a tablet ??

Yet it is not ok to run a cut down version of outlook on a tablet??

Their product placement logic is confused to say the least!!!!

I am a consumer (don't need group policy or domain join, happy with a cut down version of office) but a different messaging client that is by all accounts absolutely terrible!? In many editions of MS office Outlook is included.

That is a killer for me.

' it looks like the desktop is more feature complete than expected. File Explore, Paint and Notepad are all available'
I can't think why anyone would have thought file explorer wouldn't be on it, nor notepad?

bdsams said,
No one really knew, it was rumored for a long time that only Office and IE would be available...

Are you serious??? Microsoft had a whole blog post about WOA. They CLEARLY STATED AND SHOWED A VIDEO DEMO of File Explorer on Windows RT. *Sigh*.

Bit of shame no 3rd party programs in RT's desktop mode, I know x86 programs wouldn't work but they could have left the door open for devs to make new desktop arm programs.

thealexweb said,
Bit of shame no 3rd party programs in RT's desktop mode, I know x86 programs wouldn't work but they could have left the door open for devs to make new desktop arm programs.

If the devs recompile for ARM there will be. I assume any one wanting to make money off there apps will recompile.

Cyborg_X said,

If the devs recompile for ARM there will be. I assume any one wanting to make money off there apps will recompile.


Desktop apps have to be approved by Microsoft in Windows RT.

Cyborg_X said,

If the devs recompile for ARM there will be. I assume any one wanting to make money off there apps will recompile.

Nope, the desktop is locked out from 3rd party devs to a) encourage development of apps that use the WinRT API and b) prevent apps from ****ting all over the OS with randomly installed files, breaking the sandbox. Windows RT will be thought of as a tablet, and as such, the OS needs to always be in a known state so a user never thinks about needing to re-install the OS.

Cyborg_X said,

If the devs recompile for ARM there will be. I assume any one wanting to make money off there apps will recompile.

No they can't. If someone hacks it and unlocks it they can, but default consumer devices will not allow third party programs to run on the desktop. They must be signed by Microsoft or they won't run, and Microsoft won't sign third party desktop programs for ARM.

dagamer34 said,

Nope, the desktop is locked out from 3rd party devs to a) encourage development of apps that use the WinRT API and b) prevent apps from ****ting all over the OS with randomly installed files, breaking the sandbox. Windows RT will be thought of as a tablet, and as such, the OS needs to always be in a known state so a user never thinks about needing to re-install the OS.

Well, there's also performance and battery life.

Just to give one example of the lengths that Microsoft is willing to go to -- in Office 2013/RT, they've rewritten the main canvas display to use DirectWrite accelerated graphics. That's hundreds of thousands of lines of GDI code that they replaced -- the very core of the user interface. In the case of Excel, the Office application with the oldest codebase, they're throwing out some 25 years of work.

With GDI, every time you scrolled, it would redraw the entire screen. With DirectWrite, the graphics chip will handle the scrolling, and only the newly-exposed view area needs to be drawn. That should considerably improve the power usage of the Office applications.

How many other developers are willing to tear out their graphics backend and start over? Especially since it doesn't make their application look any better. A lot of under-the-covers work for little apparent gain to the application itself -- but the benefits are felt across the system, as it'll last longer on a battery charge.

Today, application developers are in the habit of exploiting Windows features to make a general nuisance of themselves (Startup folder, system tray, Services, scheduled tasks, etc.) ... How many are willing to sacrifice for the good of the overall experience?

Microsoft is. Because they don't want Office RT to make Windows RT look bad.

thealexweb said,
Bit of shame no 3rd party programs in RT's desktop mode, I know x86 programs wouldn't work but they could have left the door open for devs to make new desktop arm programs.

I agree. This is a big negative to me.

THey should treat it like the Xbox and get exclusive apps and games on it. Kind of like how iOS has Infinity Blade, we should get a mobile Gears of War or something to that nature.

Oh man, Halo RT do it Microsoft! WinRT tablets could be huge boon for Microsoft as basically their entry into mobile gaming. Skip the dedicated handhelds and take on Sony and Nintendo by doing mobile gaming the iPad way. I really hope someone at Microsoft has put two and two together.

TPreston said,
No group policy or domain join is a dealbraker for me hopefully in a future version.

There's a Pro version for that.

xendrome said,

There's a Pro version for that.


Exactly this is the CONSUMER version of the Surface. Buy the BUSINESS version if you want enterprise features.

ahhell said,

Exactly this is the CONSUMER version of the Surface. Buy the BUSINESS version if you want enterprise features.

AFIK none of the arm versions have domain join or group policy

TPreston said,

AFIK none of the arm versions have domain join or group policy


The pro edition of surface is x86 if I remember correctly

TPreston said,
No group policy or domain join is a dealbraker for me hopefully in a future version.

There is purposefully no support for group policy and domain join as well as Outlook for Windows RT so that businesses buy the Pro version of Windows. Granted, there will be ways to manage Windows RT devices much like you can an iPad, but not to the same extent as computers you'd typically keep in the office.

Besides, for businesses that want full compatibility with all of their existing software, I think they will be leaning more towards the x86 Clover Trail tablets, which promise 9-13 hrs of battery life, which is still long enough for a full work day.

dagamer34 said,

There is purposefully no support for group policy and domain join as well as Outlook for Windows RT so that businesses buy the Pro version of Windows. Granted, there will be ways to manage Windows RT devices much like you can an iPad, but not to the same extent as computers you'd typically keep in the office.

Besides, for businesses that want full compatibility with all of their existing software, I think they will be leaning more towards the x86 Clover Trail tablets, which promise 9-13 hrs of battery life, which is still long enough for a full work day.

That's kinda silly in my opinion.

Had they kept the experience more in line with x86 PC's there would be a much larger business segment interested in tablets.

Yes they could get the x86 version, but that'll also start up at probably twice the price, definitely more epensive than both iPad and Android devices.

I actually thought the cornerstone in Windows Phone 8 was the AD-integration, it's a shame if it's a handicapped version.

FISKER_Q said,

That's kinda silly in my opinion.

Had they kept the experience more in line with x86 PC's there would be a much larger business segment interested in tablets.

Yes they could get the x86 version, but that'll also start up at probably twice the price, definitely more epensive than both iPad and Android devices.

I actually thought the cornerstone in Windows Phone 8 was the AD-integration, it's a shame if it's a handicapped version.

The cost difference between an ARM chip and an Intel Atom chip isn't going to be astronomical, maybe $25 to 50 dollars at most. And the tablets will cost more than an iPad or Android tablet because it's a freaking computer. You get what you pay for.

True but the atom version is going to eat through the battery faster and thats without even mentioning the intel gpu.

ARM is a far better choice imo its just a shame they couldnt port group policy aswell

TPreston said,
No group policy or domain join is a dealbraker for me hopefully in a future version.

Does it really matter? ActiveSync/SP policy is plenty enough imo.