Ask Juan: Now that I own an RT tablet, will Windows RT disappear?

lumia 2520 20Just got this question from a reader. Jim asks:

As a recent purchaser of a Nokia Lumia 2520 tablet I am starting to get a little concerned about Windows RT folding or at least developers not making apps. Is this real and if so what does that mean for my tabby?

Hey Jim! First of all congrats on the Lumia! It was my Windows Tablet pick of the year!

So here’s the deal.

Windows RT as we know it today probably wont stick around long, and as the owner of a 2520 this is a good thing for you… 

Windows RT is an odd stopgap solution. Microsoft needed to get into the tablet market. They were losing out big time to iOS and Android. Tablets are decimating the laptop and netbook markets. When Windows 8 first shipped, manufacturers weren’t really embracing touchscreens. There weren’t any tablet apps to speak of. We were waiting on more power efficient processors from Intel for proper X86 hybrids, and Microsoft took it upon themselves to develop an ARM powered Windows Slate. Thus was born the original Surface RT.

Microsoft doesn’t always have the best internal synergy between various teams. Windows RT should’ve been a platform to show off Live Tiles on tablets, like Windows Phone, but they also wanted to include productivity tools at launch. Office wasn’t ready for the new Modern UI, so what resulted was this weird combination of old and new user interfaces. Legacy desktop makes sense on a computer which can support legacy software. Not so much on Windows RT.

Now Windows Phone is starting to bloom, and the app situation there is improving. We know that next year Microsoft’s goal is to merge the app base between Windows Phone and Windows RT. It’s no surprise that Nokia’s newest phone and tablet run very similar internal hardware, namely the Qualcomm 800 processor.  When that happens it wont change much for Windows Phone users, but it’ll be a boon for Windows tablet and hybrid owners.

We also know that Microsoft is currently working on native app solutions to bring Office to iOS, and I’d be very surprised if they weren’t working on a touch optimized variation of Office for Windows RT. When we get Metro-Office, there really wont be much need for the traditional desktop anymore, and we can fully embrace the Live Tile UI.

This is Microsoft’s future. 

lenovo twist surface 2 lumia 1020 live tiles microsoft windows 8 somegadgetguy tea

We know this is where they want to go. They’ll need to support legacy software on proper computers for years yet, but moving forward the new UI is where they’ll be encouraging developer focus. It’s what drives their phone strategy. We’ll likely see some app and services compatibility with the XBox One. New Metro apps will play nice with ARM and X86 tablets alike. Microsoft is racing towards a unified UI as aggressively as they can. In a couple years, we’ll moan whenever we have to use the traditional old desktop.

So Jim, Windows RT will probably snuff it relatively soon, and in its place will be a new Windows Phone + RT combo. You’re Lumia will be better for it.