Windows 8 has been released, and consumers are turning to the internet to decide whether or not to make the upgrade. Microsoft released two versions of their new operating system. One version is called Windows 8, while the other is known as RT.
The two versions are confusing some users. To help decide which operating system is right for you, we’re going to explain all of the major differences between Windows 8 and Windows RT:
The first and most important thing you need to know is that Windows RT comes preinstalled on systems. You won’t be able to buy a boxed copy of Windows RT. So far, it looks like Windows RT will be most popular on tablets like the Microsoft Surface.
Meanwhile, Windows 8 is the standard version of Microsoft’s new operating system. It’s available in boxed copies and comes in three different editions: Windows 8 (standard), Windows 8 Pro, and Windows 8 Enterprise. Windows 8 is available in boxed copies and will be found on new desktop, laptop, and tablet computers sold over the next few years.
The biggest difference between Windows 8 and Windows RT involves pricing. Specifically, Windows RT is significantly cheaper than Windows 8. Since RT is pre-installed, consumers don’t have to buy it themselves. Instead, manufacturers pay Microsoft significantly less for licensing with the expectation that these savings will be passed on to consumers.
Windows RT also includes built-in copies of Word, PowerPoint, and Excel, which should help consumers save a decent amount of money. Obviously, Microsoft isn’t offering a lower price out of the goodness out of its own heart, and RT users can expect a slightly different experience than full Windows 8 users.
Meanwhile, Windows 8/Pro is available for $40 to users of Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7. If you’ve purchased a new PC over the last few months, you can even upgrade to Windows 8 for $15. Microsoft Office is not included on Windows 8/Pro edition.
Upgrading to Windows 8
If you want to upgrade to Windows 8, then you only have one option: buy the standard, Pro, or Enterprise versions of Windows 8. You cannot upgrade to Windows RT since no boxed copies are available.
Keep in mind that upgrading to Windows 8 costs $40 if you currently use XP, Vista, or Windows 7, so it’s an affordable upgrade for most PC users to make. However, if you’re using an older desktop or laptop computer, then you might be better off buying a brand new Windows RT device.
Hardware support is the crucial difference between Windows RT and Windows 8. This is where the comparison gets a bit technical. Specifically, the two operating systems are designed to run on different types of CPU chips. Windows RT is designed to run only on ARM-powered devices, which means that it wouldn’t work with your AMD or Intel processor even if you were to find a way to install it.
Meanwhile, Windows 8 only runs on x86 devices. Since the manufacturer will be the one installing Windows RT, you really don’t have to worry about this difference.
This is another key area of distinction between Windows RT and Windows 8, and it’s a difference that will instantly turn many users away. Windows RT users only have access to the interface-formerly-known as Metro (now called ‘Modern UI’). That’s the tiled app interface that has been seen so prominently in recent Windows 8 advertising.
Many people like this new interface, but most agree that it takes some time to get used to it. If you’d rather not reverse years of muscle memory built up over previous versions of Windows, then Windows 8/Pro edition will feature both the Modern UI system as well as the classic Windows desktop – which includes the Start button, system tray, and all of your other familiar items.
Keep in mind that the Modern UI has been designed primarily with touch-screen devices in mind. Since Windows RT is going to largely be seen on tablets and other touch-screen devices, the Modern UI shouldn’t be a problem.
Features and apps
With Windows 8/Pro, users can transfer all of their favorite programs and software from previous versions of Windows. That means the features you liked in Windows 7 will still be seen in Windows 8. Users will also have access to Xbox Live synching, Windows Play To streaming, virtual private networking, and a wide range of other Windows features.
Windows RT also comes with most of the popular Windows 8 features, but unfortunately, programs and software from previous versions of Windows will not transfer over. Instead, users must download all of their programs and software from the app store. The Microsoft app store is significantly smaller than the app stores offered by Apple and Google, so this could be a limitation for early adopters of Windows RT. Nevertheless, most of the important apps are there, and thousands more are being added every month.
Conclusion – which version is right for you
The debate between Windows RT and Windows 8/Pro edition can be summed up like this: if you want a touch-screen tablet with the flashy new Windows 8 interface at an affordable price, then choose a Windows RT tablet like the Surface RT.
If you need Windows software for business or other complex applications that require the full-range of Windows features, or if you want to access the classic Windows interface alongside the Modern UI, then get a Windows 8/Pro edition device.
Of course, if none of the Windows 8 features appeal to you, stick to Windows 7.