We are committed to providing fast, efficient, and affordable software solutions that set new standards in the software development industry.
  • Windows 8 and Windows RT: There Is A Difference
Technology Articles > Gadgets > Tablets > Windows 8 and Windows RT: There Is A Difference

Have you heard about Windows 8? What about Windows RT? While these two operating systems sound the same, there is a fundamental difference between the two. So much of a difference, in fact, that assuming the two OS’s are the same will mean buying a device that doesn’t do what you want it to. Before you run out and buy a new Surface tablet, take a look at the difference between Windows 8 and Windows RT.

Windows 8

Windows 8 is Microsoft’s newest operating system. You’ve probably seen photographs related to Windows 8. More often than not, these photographs show the new OS’s colorful and tiled screen. Windows 8 is a complete operating system designed by Windows, while Windows RT is quite different.

Windows RT

Windows RT or “Runtime” is, essentially, the version of Windows 8 that runs on ARM. Windows RT is a scaled down version of Windows 8 and comes with some scaled down limitations. First, Windows RT only works on ARM devices. Second, Windows RT comes with specific versions of Excel, Word, and PowerPoint. Third, no older (or newer) x86 or x84 programs work with Windows RT – an important point to note.

So, what’s the deal with the new Surface tablet? The Microsoft Surface will actually come in two versions. The first will run Windows 8 called the Surface Windows 8 Pro. The second version will run Windows RT, and this version will be called the Surface RT – keep in mind that RT is a scaled down version of Windows 8. The Samsung ATIV tablet, Dell XPS 10 tablet, and Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga II will all run Windows RT, and not Windows 8.

Surface Model Breakdown

As mentioned, Windows will be releasing two Surface tablets. The first is the Surface RT and the second is being billed at the Surface Windows 8 Pro Tablet. Here are the differences between the two.

Surface RT

The Surface RT will have a NVIDIA Tegra ARM chip processor; Windows RT; 32GB or 64GB; and a 10.6-inch touchscreen. Pricing for the Surface RT has yet to be announced.

Surface Windows 8 Pro

The Surface Windows 8 Pro will have a Intel Ivy Bridge (Core i5) processor; run on Windows 8 Pro; a 10.6-inch HD Pro touchscreen; 64GB or 128GB. Pricing for the Surface Windows 8 Pro has yet to be determined.


As you can see, the Surface RT and the Surface Windows 8 Pro are two very different tablets. Presumably, the Surface RT will be priced lower than the Windows 8 Pro, but the Pro will also run Windows 8 -- which the Surface RT will not. So, despite the confusion, Windows RT and Windows 8 are not the same thing.

There has been a lot of mixed signals from Microsoft concerning the difference between Windows 8 and Windows RT. For some reason, Microsoft hasn’t bothered to outline the main differences between the two. For this reason, consumers might be confused when seeking to purchase a Surface RT that doesn’t run Windows 8. Hopefully, Microsoft will clear up the confusion before the two tablets are released.