back to article RIP Windows RT: Microsoft murders ARM Surface, Nokia tablets

Microsoft has quietly pulled the plug on the last device to ship running Windows RT, casting doubt on the future of Redmond's ARM fondleslab OS. The software giant confirmed on Wednesday to The Register that it has stopped manufacturing the Nokia Lumia 2520, a 10.1-inch Windows RT tablet with a quad-core ARM processor, an HD …

  1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    Surface 2 with Win 8 RT-edition

    Lovely hardware.

    The primary annoyance is not being able to install an ad-blocker, thus making it less than useful for consuming ad-supported content (e.g. YouTube).

    1. asdf Silver badge

      Re: Surface 2 with Win 8 RT-edition

      Not sure about blocking ads on YouTube but to block ads in most other places run privoxy on your router or some other computer on your network and then just enter that as the proxy on the Win RT machine. That is how I get ad blocking on an unrooted iPhone. There are also outside adblock proxy services such as Auto proxy URL: http://ipad.speedmeup.net (which will work with any OS) but then they get to see obviously a lot of your browsing habits and info. Privoxy works reasonably well with SSL as well in that it will filter/block source and destination domains but obviously it won't be able to filter the content itself.

      1. goldcd

        A workable solution

        but not 'ideal'

        Currently for £150 you can get yourself a no-name Chinese tablet with an x86 and a 'retina' screen that lets you run any chrome/firefox/whatever plugins there are out there.

        If you want something more professional (e.g. you live in fear that your Onda warranty might not be next day, on-site) there's the proper Surface and ilk.

        RT just seems to be floating the in the dead-end middle, relying on iphone workarounds.

        1. Lusty Silver badge

          Re: A workable solution

          "e.g. you live in fear that your Onda warranty might not be next day, on-site"

          My main fear is that it will catch on fire and burn down my house and kill my family. There's a reason they can offer these things cheaper, and it's not because they have more efficient R&D, test, manufacturing and regulation departments than Apple, it's because they choose not to do those things and hope for the best...

          1. Just Enough
            Flame

            Re: A workable solution

            Yup. It's always worth remembering that these no-name cheapo tablets have pretty powerful batteries in them and everything that a nasty little electrical fire needs.

            The individual components may be sound, but don't imagine anyone has tested what happens when they are crammed in together on a tablet, left on, and stuffed down the side of a sofa.

        2. launcap Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: A workable solution

          >Currently for £150 you can get yourself a no-name Chinese tablet

          Or (as I did recently) a Linx 10 (1GB RAM, 32GB built-in with MicroSD socket, HDMI out) tablet from Sainsburys for £129.

          Has an Intel processor, runs proper Windows 8.1

          Only fly in the ointment - trying to upgrade to Windows 10 Tech preview had... issues. So back on W8.1 now.

          It's never going to be my main machine but is a reasonable little unit.

          1. ParaHandy

            Re: A workable solution

            Linx 10 has 2GB RAM.

            Linx 7 and 8 are both 1GB though.

    2. Vince

      Re: Surface 2 with Win 8 RT-edition

      Why, does the IE not have the "tracking protection" option where you can install the EasyBlock lists which is what Adblock uses? I haven't bothered to turn my Lenovo Yoga RT device on to check, but pretty sure it does allow it.

      1. h4rm0ny

        Re: Surface 2 with Win 8 RT-edition

        It does have Tracking Protection. That's part of IE11. Surprisingly, a lot of people simply don't know it exists. Swipe in from the left, click on Settings and Privacy and its in there as the top option, I think. You can add as many lists as you want including the one that Adblock itself uses.

        Anyway, shame to see it go. It may have served its purpose in threatening Intel by showing that you actually could create a viable OS on ARM and MS were willing. It could have been more than that, though. I have a Surface 2 and find it a great device. Good as a tablet and I can do Office work on it quite comfortably when I want to. Great device.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Surface 2 with Win 8 RT-edition

          "It may have served its purpose in threatening Intel by showing that you actually could create a viable OS on ARM..."

          iOS and Android have already well proven that bit. I think the lack of legacy application support is what really killed RT. One almost might say that it almost proves that many use Windows on x86 simply because they have to due to the applications they already have, not because it's their first choice of OS.

    3. TheVogon Silver badge

      Re: Surface 2 with Win 8 RT-edition

      "The primary annoyance is not being able to install an ad-blocker, thus making it less than useful for consuming ad-supported content (e.g. YouTube)."

      IE's built in advert blocking works just fine. No need to use a third party product. I use the same block list as AdAware, plus the one that blocks Google.

      1. Kristian Walsh Silver badge

        Re: Surface 2 with Win 8 RT-edition

        Instructions on how to achieve Ad-blocking on Surface RT are here:

        http://www.edandersen.com/2012/10/28/adblock-alternative-on-windows-rts-ie10/

        ... even uses El Reg as the demo site.

        1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: Surface 2 with Win 8 RT-edition

          @all

          THANK YOU very much for the pointers to adblocking on the Surface 2.

          Very much appreciated!

        2. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: Surface 2 with Win 8 RT-edition

          The comments on the above edandersen.com link mention that this process doesn't work for the video ads on YouTube (which is the main point, since they take time). I've managed to suppress the video ads on other devices.

  2. asdf Silver badge

    hmm

    Microsoft trying to succeed outside x86 = a zebra trying to change its stripes.

    Yes technically they can do it and have in the past as well but usually just as a negotiation tactic or as business strategy to kill off a competitor never as a way to actually make any kind of profit.

    1. the spectacularly refined chap

      Re: hmm

      Microsoft trying to succeed outside x86 = a zebra trying to change its stripes.

      Sure. MIPS, Alpha, Power, Itanium, now ARM. (Have I missed any out?) All supported at one time or another, all have fallen by the wayside. That track record is pretty damning and becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy: no one wants to adopt a new platform today that won't exist in five years time, condemning MS to continued failure away from their x86 home turf.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge
        WTF?

        Re: hmm

        Are you saying that your crystal ball's telling you that ARM's not going to be around in 5 years and MS are right to get out?

        1. P. Lee Silver badge

          Re: hmm

          >Are you saying that your crystal ball's telling you that ARM's not going to be around in 5 years and MS are right to get out?

          No, merely that ARM doesn't have the oomph to do what people expect to do with Windows which means:

          1) MS are effectively starting from scratch

          2) Customers are disappointed with the device

          That isn't a good combination.

          Remember the ipad/iphone? No ported desktop apps and very few OSX users who thought they might get OSX on a phone.

          There's also:

          3) MS have a history of dropping non-intel platforms. Even if you like it, its unlikely to be a strategic direction you or your company can take.

          Is this just a question of being too early to market? I'll be interested to see how the new A72's go and if this brings ARM up to atom-level CPU strength. More grunt, less power will certainly bring the hurt to intel in the mobile space.

          I'm waiting to see when the graphics card companies wake up to see that they have control of the x16 slots in a PC and could add SATA ports, NICs and an ARM CPU to provide an inbox NAS. Your NAS could work at pretty much native SATA3 speeds within the box thanks to the X16 slot, but it could also act as an independent server for the rest of the home. Add android & wake-on-(virtual)-LAN and that power-house desktop could mostly stay silent with the intel chip asleep while you get your email and do some browsing.

          Hello? AMD? Are you there? nVidia? Gigabyte? Asus? Anyone?

          1. Dan 55 Silver badge

            Re: hmm

            On 2, MS chose the wrong software to kickstart the platform off with. The iPad's form was a big iPhone, it made sense to make it compatible with iPhone apps.

            Surface RT's selling point was it was a laptop too, so making it compatible with Windows Phone apps and not compatible with Windows desktop was dooming the platform to failure from the start.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: hmm

            "the graphics card companies wake up to see that they have control of the x16 slots in a PC and could add SATA ports, NICs and an ARM CPU to provide an inbox NAS."

            On paper an interesting concept.

            Now explain to potential manufacturers (and to readers) why it needs all the PC-world junk around it, if mostly what it's getting from the PC is cabinetry, power+cooling and LAN connectivity? (Yes local access at PCIe speeds might count for something. Or it might not, depending on the cost)

          3. John Sanders
            Holmes

            Re: hmm

            """ARM up to atom-level CPU strength."""

            Yes, and the PCI bus enumeration is going to happen how exactly?

            I do not see anybody in the ARM space rushing to develop such PC-Like boards any time soon without proper supporting chipsets.

            PowerPC boards failed miserably because the available chipsets were rubbish.

            ARM SOCs are nothing like what people understand as a PC.

            1. Tom 38 Silver badge

              Re: hmm

              ARM SOCs are nothing like what people understand as a PC.

              Which is why ARM is getting EUFI.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: hmm

              "PCI bus enumeration is going to happen how exactly?

              I do not see anybody in the ARM space rushing to develop such PC-Like boards any time soon without proper supporting chipsets.

              ARM SOCs are nothing like what people understand as a PC."

              True, but also irrelevant to 99+% of the world's desktop and mobile computing devices and maybe even some others too (eg routers, TVs, etc).

              If everything's on the SOC, as it is with phones, tablets, routers, etc, who gives a wotsits about an external bus?

              If the system has no user-accessible PCI* bus, as with most modern laptops etc, who gives a wotsits about an external bus?

              If the system has a user-accessible PCI* bus but nobody ever uses it, who gives a wotsits about an external bus?

              External PCI* buses are an increasingly niche market. They won't go away but they will be of decreasing importance to manufacturers and to the vast majority of users. Therefore, systems with off-chip PCI* buses will be increasing in price, and therefore, of decreasing importance. Whoops.

              General purpose servers are a different kettle of fish (whereas dedicated microservers could easily be based on SoCs and some people are doing that already).

            3. Adrian 4 Silver badge

              Re: hmm

              This is good, right ?

              Because what people understand as a PC is dead, except for niche markets lke developers.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: hmm

        Those where vapourware and empty promises, I remember that well.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: hmm

        Sure. MIPS, Alpha, Power, Itanium, now ARM. (Have I missed any out?)

        m68k, SuperH.

      4. h4rm0ny

        Re: hmm

        >>"no one wants to adopt a new platform today that won't exist in five years time, condemning MS to continued failure away from their x86 home turf."

        If you use the new Windows Runtime APIs, then your software would work fine on both the x86 Windows and the ARM version. It's a simple configuration option at compile time.

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: hmm

          @h4rm0ny: I'm sure it would, if you didn't use any Win32 API that's not in WinRT. It would also be severely limited compared to Win32 with an interface that looks like a Fisher Price toy.

        2. dajames Silver badge

          Re: hmm

          If you use the new Windows Runtime APIs ...

          But why would you? Why would anyone?

          If you're porting an existing desktop application changing the underlying API set is a major piece of work. Is (was) the RT marketplace big enough to justify doing that? Dunno, wait and see ... nope, doesn't like it.

          If you're writing a new application from scratch you want it to have the largest possible market, so you write it to use the most widely supported APIs ... that means Win32 (or the 64-bit incarnation thereof) or maybe some cross-platform toolkit that targets Mac and Linux as well. You won't target the newcomer API unless and until it actually has some users.

          At least there's now something to which the "burning platform" monicker really applies.

      5. CheesyTheClown Silver badge

        Re: hmm

        i860 - The original platform for the NT kernel

    2. Jason Hindle Bronze badge

      Re: hmm - not sure that's a good analysis....

      I think it's more about Intel repeatedly raising its game, rather than Microsoft failing with non Intel processors. It is easy for those of us, who've been here too long, to think in terms of Wintel while forgetting about Intel.

    3. Lysenko Silver badge

      Re: hmm

      "Microsoft trying to succeed outside x86 = a zebra trying to change its stripes."

      Only if you think that Windows only comes in two flavours: PC Desktop and Server.

      The reality is that Windows (disregarding RT), currently ships in at least four other versions: Win 6CE, Win EC 7 (EC = Embedded Compact), Win EC 8 and Win EC 8.1. Most of these additionally have minor versions along the lines of Standard, Pro and Server and between them have BSPs (Board Support Layers) for around 250 variants of ARM chip including vendors like TI, Atmel, Marvell, FreeScale and others. MIPS architecture is also still supported.

      You may regard the RPi, "maker" market as tiny, but the Point of Sale, ATM, Interactive kiosk, Industrial monitoring, in car GPS, Security Scanner and so on markets are not. You might also imagine that Linux and RTOS's like QNX have a lock on these markets - but you would be wrong.

      The hobbyist, schoolkid, Kickstarter end of the "intelligent gadget" market may be Linux/Python/Ruby/JSON dominated, but the professional end isn't. Win CE6 still ships because there are companies still selling designs (gas monitors come to mind) that hit the market 10 years ago and they won't even update the OS version without a shotgun to the head, let alone switch OS entirely.

      The corollary to: "If it doesn't run Windows, it isn't a PC" I'm seeing here is: "If it doesn't run MS Office, it isn't Windows". Both propositions are equally wrong.

      1. Eddy Ito Silver badge

        Re: hmm

        Win CE6 still ships because...

        re-certification of any existing solution is such an expensive pain in the arse most engineers would rather be dragged over hot coals interlaced with razor wire buck naked than re-certify a completely different solution. Does that FTFY?

        1. Lysenko Silver badge

          Re: hmm

          @Eddy

          "re-certification of any existing solution is such an expensive pain in the arse most engineers would rather be dragged over hot coals interlaced with razor wire buck naked than re-certify a completely different solution. Does that FTFY?"

          I'm not following you. You appear to be saying the same thing I did. Windows is big on ARM, that has nothing to do with WinRT and developers using Windows on ARM aren't going to be switching to anything else in a hurry. The regulatory inertia in the embedded space is worse than even Financial Services (notorious for running IE6 way past its sell by date).

          I build such stuff (albeit on Yocto). Doesn't change the fact that I'm in the minority re. our immediate competitors who are mostly Win EC 7 shops.

          1. Eddy Ito Silver badge

            Re: hmm

            @Lysenko

            My bad, I get your sense now. On my first read it seemed that you were saying there were actually people of the "you can have my CE when you pry it from..." type.

      2. picturethis
        Unhappy

        Re: hmm

        re: QNX.

        It may have a large presence in the embedded space, but that may be due to historical reasons rather than new "wins" during the past couple of years. A couple of years ago I looked into them for the company I work for (medium size company) and ROFLOL as I hung up the phone after talking with their regional rep. They were charging USD 220,000 per development seat and that didn't include runtime licenses. At first I thought he was joking around (he's an acquaintence of mine), but he wasn't...

        We've beem using OpenRTOS (FreeRTOS) for the past 7 years or so and it's actually okay for our needs. In some respects it's actually better than the few remaining commercial RTOS' due to access to all of the source code while debugging. It looks like we'll be putting more effort towards improving this (and we won't be spending $220,000 to do it either)..

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: hmm

          RTOSes

          RTOSes are incredibly diverse both in the functionality provided and in the hardware environments they support. Comparing QNX to FreeRTOS is crazy. I like FreeRTOS and have used it on many projects but it is at the minimal end providing task/thread scheduing sycnhrinisation and basic inter thread messaging. QNX is at the opposite end comparing the two is like comparing a car to a sandal.

          I am also very sceptical about the quoted price. QNX is pricy but the number quoted is roughly ten times what I was last quoted.

          1. CheesyTheClown Silver badge

            Re: hmm

            Let's not forget that Windows CE is also a real-time operating system... which in many cases is why it failed so bad as a user platform as did Symbian when they went that route.

            Real-time operating systems are awesome for things which need predictable time. From a user perspective, they are not nearly as responsive since the scheduler simply does not prioritize user experience. They're excellent for things like real-time communications but almost always fall flat when running applications.

            Of course in the case of QNX, using a more advanced scheduler which offers real-time to real-time tasks and prioritized scheduling to user tasks works out well since the real-time functions tend to use minimal amounts of time when running. Real-time preemption is deadly to user experience for large tasks like running an EcmaScript thread in a web page.

            I spent A LOT of time porting the Opera Web Browser to QNX back in the day and while QNX rocked for machine control and such, it was a pathetic OS at the time for running a browser. These days, I'm only speculating on the new scheduler behavior, but I do assume that for the work they did for Blackberry, they probably made it a hybrid which makes sense.

            I agree with your comparison of a minimal embedded OS like FreeRTOS vs a full-feature OS like QNX which happens to have a real-time microkernel, other than time-slice management, I just don't see anything else in common.

            1. druck
              Thumb Down

              Re: hmm

              CheesyTheClown wrote:

              Let's not forget that Windows CE is also a real-time operating system...

              Not on anyone else's planet! It's just a port of a very old Windows NT kernel, and about as real time as a brick. All Windows CE based phones had to have a separate processor to run the phone stack.

            2. Lysenko Silver badge

              Re: hmm

              @Cheesy

              I take you point, but there are different perspectives of "user experience". For what I'm working in now, the relevant user experience is that the DMX stage lights go on and off in the right place at the right time. The lighting engineer may want to hit "pause" if there is a scenery glitch or something, but other than that he doesn't want to interact with the software other than hitting "go" at the start. Even setting that aside, his user experience is insignificant compared to that of the audience. To a large extent he us a robot peripheral there to replace blown bulbs etc. when the control system instructs him to.

              The set designer who creates the cross fades and so on is a different matter. He uses a nice C# GUI running on full fat Windows. Probably I've had an odd career, but the majority of the stuff I've done from this to call centres, involves the carbon based wetware carrying out the instructions of their silicon overlords ;)

          2. werdsmith Silver badge

            RTOS

            FreeRTOS is the OS that I think Pebble watch firmware is based on.

        2. Colin Critch

          Re: hmm

          Yes I have found FreeRTOS to be very good also on the ST Arm chips. Also there is good task and Queue support on the IAR Embedded Workbench for ARM.

        3. Lysenko Silver badge

          Re: hmm

          "We've beem using OpenRTOS (FreeRTOS) for the past 7 years or so and it's actually okay for our needs."

          We've played about with it too, but so far it hasn't been a great fit (at least the way we design things). For things that aren't hard timing critical Yocto/ARM is fine and for other things that are very sensitive like nasty third party ModBus and DMX implementations we stick micro controllers (usually Microchip PICs) on the board and code them directly in ASM or C.

          For those who don't do this sort of thing, it is a bit like having a Raspberry Pi master controller with a bunch of Arduinos attached to the GPIO lines to handle the external comms processes asynchronously.

        4. JLV Silver badge

          Re: hmm

          $220K? Anyone know how that's evolved since BlackBerry took them on? I've always had a soft spot for QNX and I rather like my "new" Z10 so it'd be disheartening to see it become irrelevant due to irrational costing.

      3. John Sanders
        Holmes

        Re: hmm

        WinCE is not windows, at least not what 99% of the population understands for "Windows".

        The companies using WinCE like you say do it because of legacy products/reasons.

        If it can not run Windows x86 commercial software windows is barely of no use to barely anybody.

        1. Lysenko Silver badge

          Re: hmm

          @John Sanders

          "If it can not run Windows x86 commercial software windows is barely of no use to barely anybody."

          Tell you what: ask for the full, personal, "latex glove" security procedure at the airport next time. Then come back and tell me Windows (likely running the regular security scanners) is of "barely any use to you". I'll lend you a fiver for a tube of Preparation H, since you wont be using the ATM (probably Windows as well).

      4. JLV Silver badge

        Re: hmm

        >Only if you think that Windows only comes in two flavours

        Upvoted you for the comprehensive details. But the OP still has a point. MS has a fairly long history of testing the waters but not staying the course, especially in the early stages. I would most definitely consider it a risk, when considering a strategic commitment on their non-core stuff - including software.

        And your quote of a 10 year period wrt to pro markets cuts both ways. Those companies need long term stability and commitment from their vendor and that's even more scary than a 2-3 year window.

        Their core stuff? It will be around forever but only if you picked right the right branch to sit on. Best way to gauge is probably to look at their divisional revenues.

        I suspect this experimentation is driven by MS trying hard to diversify income outside of Win, Office & servers. That's laudable and so is cutting off dead branches, both technical and financial. But frequent unpredictable backtracking risks getting a predictability all of its own.

        So maybe they need to pick their fights much more carefully, execute much better and bite the bullet on staying the course once they've committed. Trite, I know.

        In a way, I wonder if open sourcing (under MIT, no less) the .Net stuff isn't at least partially motivated as an antidote of sorts to these concerns.

    4. goldcd

      Hmm, maybe.

      I loved the idea of RT and ARM, but.. as soon as Intel released usable x86 and MS gave free licenses...

      *re-reads*

      Sorry, I agree with you entirely.

    5. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: hmm

      If Windows on ARM fails (again) it won't be down to Windows itself but the handling of existing x86-based applications. This is perfectly doable in software but hardware support would make it better. When Apple made the change it had Intel's support. Unfortunately, Microsoft has made it even more complex with the different 32-bit and 64-bit versions.

      Even with Apple's aggressive support of x86 it took years before developers switched to cross-compiling their applications (almost always new versions). The Windows environment is even more diverse.

      The Windows on ARM initiative, however, may end up bypassing the tricky world of end-user software entirely and focus on the enterprise market where new kit with new applications is more plausible. The new ARM chips are going to be perfect quite a lot of workloads, even on Windows.

  3. Paul J Turner

    Poor timing for this announcement

    This makes it very clear that Microsoft's Windows 10 on ARM 7 support and development will only be there to support the relatively tiny maker market using Windows 10 on the new Pi 2 B.

    I can see that already has a long future behind it.

    Their left hand really doesn't know what their right hand is doing, does it?

    1. Vector

      Re: Poor timing for this announcement

      I strongly disagree. I believe this is a part of Microsoft's attempt to make Windows 10 a hardware agnostic platform. They have already indicated their desire to produce an operating system that can run the same applications on any device, be it a phone or a full blown desktop. How well they can execute on that vision remains to be seen, but I think that is the goal.

      Windows RT was a part of the flawed vision that gave us Windows 8. It's something that needed to be put out to pasture.

      1. spegru

        Re: Poor timing for this announcement

        I really dont see how Win8 being a problem because of the tiles & lack of start button etc has anything much to do with their ability to support ARM base processors. Nope I really do reckon this simply a matter of left and right hand. It also calls into question the whole validity RPi announcement that was obvioulsy timed to coincide with the RPi 2 launch.

        PS Eben you really ought to know better!

      2. jason 7

        Re: Poor timing for this announcement

        Indeed, I reckon it was done purely to kick Intel into line to start producing the chips MS really wanted for mobile productivity.

        Sometimes getting what you want/need from another industrial leviathan costs billions.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Poor timing for this announcement

      But the Windows 10 on the RPi isn't a consumer OS, it's the "IoT" edition (like WinCE).

    3. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Poor timing for this announcement

      They're running an ARM Win 10 kernel for IoT devices, of which the Pi 2 is one. The Pi 2 runs the minimum spec for ARM Win 10 so it seems they expect lightbulbs will be running quad core and have 1Gb of RAM.

      1. Captain DaFt

        Re: Poor timing for this announcement

        "it seems they expect lightbulbs will be running quad core and have 1Gb of RAM."

        And no doubt a bright blue LED to let you know when the light is turned off.

        1. Pascal
          Thumb Up

          Re: Poor timing for this announcement

          > And no doubt a bright blue LED to let you know when the light is turned off.

          This amused me a lot more than it should have. Have an upvote.

    4. CheesyTheClown Silver badge

      Re: Poor timing for this announcement

      How do you figure? Last I checked Windows 10 which the operating system with the same kernel for all devices will be the exact same kernel on Windows Phone. The Raspberry Pi 2 port is nothing more than a fun project which was easy enough to do simply by coding a BSP.

  4. Rick Leeming

    The BOSS has a Surface

    Wife has a Surface 1 with a Touch Keyboard. She loves it. I did offer her the choice, but she wanted it. She loves it, battery life is great, touch keyboard would be horrible to do serious work, but it isn't for that. She wanted a noodling tablet to browse a bit, shop a lot and generally use without having to boot it up. She hates Android and iOS, and she did have a choice. It has outlasted my Galaxy Tab 10 and Galaxy Tab 7, and they were supposed to be better.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The BOSS has a Surface

      I don't believe you have a wife. Enjoy your Surface 1 with a Touch Keyboard.

    2. wolfetone Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: The BOSS has a Surface

      "She hates Android and iOS"

      The perfect woman. I'm glad you married her.

  5. chris 17

    The moral of the story is to not buy any niche MS products.

    Will you be able to upgrade win phone 8 devices to windows 10 os?

    1. cambsukguy

      > Will you be able to upgrade win phone 8 devices to windows 10 os?

      Yes, either the higher end ones with sufficient beef or the ones with the later hardware such as the sensorcore tech.

      Exactly which ones remains to be seen but the existing phones will be at the Denim update which has Cortana and is pretty mature. I imagine few owners will care that much.

      I know someone that won't change from 8.0 because they don't want to change a single thing.

      1. Jess

        re:Will you be able to upgrade win phone 8... - Yes

        I seem to recall that at this stage in WP7's life it was expected that devices would get upgrades to WP8.

  6. GitMeMyShootinIrons

    We are gathered here today...

    ...to mourn the passing of an unloved child. Outlived by an equally unloved, but underappreciated sibling and several elderly relatives.

    Leave no flowers.

  7. cambsukguy

    There is simply no need for the RT edition

    Speaking personally (duh!), I bought an RT for the same reason as an earlier poster's wife, perfect form factor, long battery life, not a toy, functional keyboard, real USB, desktop if required, trackpad built-in, Office for free.

    However, if they made a full-fat windows in such a small tablet which lasted just as long on battery and had a proper keyboard etc. then I would have had it instead.

    The pro at the time was much more expensive and heavier and lasted less long on battery and I did not require the extra facilities such as real windows.

    But, I imagine it is completely likely that, at replacement time, any surface they might make will include a lower end one, as slim as my surface or slimmer, with excellent battery life etc.

    And I will buy one, very probably. TBH, the Surface 2 RT I have is just fantastic, I love it - taking it on trips is so useful as I have a chunky laptop at home more used to replacing a desktop than being for travel.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: There is simply no need for the RT edition

      You picked an unproven and poorly rated device because it was better?

      1. fruitoftheloon
        FAIL

        @AC: Re: There is simply no need for the RT edition

        Dear AC,

        err no, cambsukguy chose a bit of kit that met THEIR requirements, not YOURS.

        It is really not that complicated you know...

        Cheers,

        J

        1. Kristian Walsh Silver badge

          Re: @AC: There is simply no need for the RT edition

          Another RT 2 user here. Chosen for the same reasons: light weight, small form factor, long battery life SEPARATE USER ACCOUNTS (hello, Apple) to be kept in the living room for email, casual browsing and Netflix/YouTube video watching (hence 16:9 display being important).

          The "Phone" branch of Windows 10 is getting previewed soon, and that may give more clarity on what happens for ARM devices in general. I don't think "full" Windows 10 really works on a screen of 10" or less, but the market often wants things that sound better than they really are in practice (c.f. Netbooks)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: There is simply no need for the RT edition

      Pretty sure the ARM version was to piss off Intel so they got their shit together on pricing and power usage.

      I have an Intel Atom tablet and the battery life is dismal. Runs flat in standby in a day or so.

  8. Long John Brass Silver badge

    Surface RT

    Nice hardware, shame about the software

    I don't suppose the M$ will allow us to unlock the bootloader so I can finally install Debian on it?

    1. Captain DaFt

      Re: Surface RT

      "I don't suppose the M$ will allow us to unlock the bootloader so I can finally install Debian on it?"

      Very seriously doubt it. For Microsoft, the hardware's only there to use their OS.

      And they've shown they'd rather write off ONE BEELLION DOLLARS than give you that freedom of choice.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Captain DaFt - Re: Surface RT

        Yep! What's a billion dollars compared to preventing people from finding there's life without Windows!

  9. Dan 55 Silver badge
    FAIL

    MS, falling flat on its face again

    Because they wanted to nobble ARM tablets and maintain an artificial reason for keeping the price up on Wintel tablets/laptops, they locked ARM down, didn't give developers a way to compile universal binaries, and didn't provide emulation for event-loop driven x86 software (i.e. what Apple's done twice in the last 20 years). The result was the platform sinking without trace, apart from a highly expensive writedown.

  10. tempemeaty

    If I could have loaded my must-have x86 progys...

    ...THEN I could be coaxed into trying Windows on an Arm CPU.

    In 2016 there's going to be a 16nm Arm chip introduced that can run at 2+Ghz. It's enough to run my desktop programs provided the OS was designed to run them on an ARM chip. Running my must-have PC programs on ARM is the only thing missing.

    1. bazza Silver badge

      Re: If I could have loaded my must-have x86 progys...

      A long time ago when MS first started thinking about ARM, they showed off Windows 7 and Office running on an ARM dev board. All they had done was written the hardware abstraction layer (HAL) for the Windows kernel, recompiled the OS and Office plus an Epson printer driver for ARM, and lo and behold; full desktop Windows 7 running on ARM.

      This was hugely encouraging at the time. What they were hinting at was the prospect of a developer being able to compile their software for both Intel and ARM from exactly the same source code. Bit like the fat binaries that Mac OS X apps used to have to run on both PowerPC and Intel Macs.

      Forget tablets, the prospect of being able to get the whole Windows ecosystem onto ARM desktops, ARM laptops with no more effort than making Visual Studio build fat binaries (or at least an Intel and also an ARM binary in the same build step) by default was hugely promising.

      So, what did MS do? Fuck it up. They completely ignored the one and only wise thing that Steve Jobs had ever said: "It's the software that matters most of all" (or words to that effect).

      They produced Windows RT for ARM, and Windows 8 for Intel. Their APIs were different, there was no easy way to produce an application for both platforms. You couldn't simply recompile your source code for each. Instead the devs had to choose whether they were going to target Windows 8 or Windows RT.

      The result? The few devs that bothered chose Windows 8, and most devs stuck to producing standard desktop applications for Windows 8 instead of Metro touch apps. Win RT didn't have a chance.

      There's word that MS have learned this lesson and are seeking to revert to type. ARM is too important, and they should not ignore ARM now. The hard part (getting the HAL and build tools together) is already done and can be re-used going in to the future. They just need to produce a consistent API so that developers' source code can be re-used with no effort required.

      That quote of Steve Jobs is highly applicable almost anywhere. It doesn't matter how nice your hardware offering is, if there's no software available for it then you might as well not bother.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: If I could have loaded my must-have x86 progys...

        "written the hardware abstraction layer (HAL) for the Windows kernel, recompiled the OS and Office plus an Epson printer driver for ARM, and lo and behold; full desktop Windows 7 running on ARM."

        Much as they did for NT4 on the RISC chips from the ARC vendors in the 1990s (DEC Alpha, some MIPS, some PPC, etc). And then what happened?

        "get the whole Windows ecosystem onto ARM desktops, ARM laptops with no more effort than making Visual Studio build fat binaries"

        But Windows doesn't do 'fat binaries', and the day it's announced that it will is the day MS and Intel delete each others contacts from their respective Address Books. That'd certainly be interesting.

        There's also the small matter of companies outside MS. They need to be motivated to support a different architecture. If they don't, we're back to emulation/translation (as per the days of FX!32 on NT/Alpha which allowed NT/Alpha systems to transparently and efficiently run Win32/x86 usemode applications, but did nothing for device drivers...).

        There's lots of Linux experience that shows that the technical issues are not really a problem. The real issues are elsewhere.

        "ARM is too important to ignore now"

        Absolutely agreed for the market in general.

        "MS should not ignore ARM now"

        MS's historic reluctance to move outside their comfort zone means they are now, entirely predictably, between a rock and a hard place.

        "They just need to produce a consistent API so that developers' source code can be re-used with no effort required."

        Indeed. In a sensible world, the API doesn't depend on the underlying target architecture or implementation, as Linux shows. Whatever's in the ABI underneath doesn't generally matter at source level. It's only MS's failed attempts at market segmentation that make it that way.

        There's a reason people talk about Wintel.

        There's a reason you don't see x86 anywhere much (if at all) except in kit that needs to run Windows.

      2. Down not across

        Re: If I could have loaded my must-have x86 progys...

        Bit like the fat binaries that Mac OS X apps used to have to run on both PowerPC and Intel Macs.

        Fat binaries go back lot longer than OS X... Apple used them back in 90s when they transitioned from 68K to PowerPC. The OS-X implementation (IIRC) evolved from NeXTStep 3.1 Mach-O multi architecture binaries.

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: If I could have loaded my must-have x86 progys...

          Fat binaries go back lot longer than OS X

          And they're a clumsy solution anyway. Long before Apple said "fuck it, just shove two versions in there", we had compile-at-installation approaches like AND-F and OS/400's "visibility" build mode, and JIT compilation of VM instruction streams. And source distribution, of course, and interpreted languages.

          On a historical tangent, pre-Win32s Windows did support a sort of fat binary. GUI-mode Windows programs in those days consisted of a main body that was loaded as a module in the Windows runtime process, and a "stub" which was a piece of DOS executable code. When a Windows GUI program was run under DOS, the stub would determine if the Windows environment was running, and either tell Windows to load the program or terminate with a message.

          But you could replace the default stub with pretty much any DOS-based character-mode code, and at least a few applications had entire DOS-character-mode versions as their stubs. So if you ran the program without starting Windows first, you'd get the character-mode version; if Windows was running, you'd get the GUI. A nice trick for the era.

          (Obviously it's possible to do the same sort of thing with, say, UNIX programs that use X if they can connect to a display and go character-mode if they can't. But no trickery is required, just a bit of runtime logic, and in practice most programs just check for a DISPLAY variable in the environment to make that decision. The easy stuff is never as interesting.)

          1. Down not across

            Re: If I could have loaded my must-have x86 progys...

            And they're a clumsy solution anyway. Long before Apple said "fuck it, just shove two versions in there", we had compile-at-installation approaches like AND-F and OS/400's "visibility" build mode, and JIT compilation of VM instruction streams. And source distribution, of course, and interpreted languages.

            Perhaps not the most elegant, but does make it easier on the end user not having to worry about the platform. Also it meant the application did run full speed on either platform (unlike some ohter approaches*). There were utilities to strip the unneeded version as well.

            * For example when HP started using PA-RISC on HP3000s, MPE XL (the PA-RISC version of MPE) included an emulator so that the old CISC binaries could be run. Of course on that platform you could use OCTCOMP to translate them into native PA-RISC code to get native speed (but with the limitation of the classic platform (memory, stack, etc).

            But you could replace the default stub with pretty much any DOS-based character-mode code, and at least a few applications had entire DOS-character-mode versions as their stubs. So if you ran the program without starting Windows first, you'd get the character-mode version; if Windows was running, you'd get the GUI. A nice trick for the era.

            Yeah that was a neat trick. Reminds me of another neat trick back in the CP/M and MS-DOS days

            where first few instructions of a .COM had to execute correctly on 8086 and Z80 and then branch correctly both use +100h offset if my memory serves. Kind of fat binary I guess but designed to run on quite different OSes.

  11. joed Silver badge

    what about <8" tablets and Windows 10?

    no desktop apps = RT (no matter what's under the "skin")

    has MS given up on the tablets

    1. P. Lee Silver badge

      Re: what about <8" tablets and Windows 10?

      >has MS given up on the tablets

      Nope, but it has noted that users don't want its OS, they want the apps which run on Windows... which won't generally run on ARM, being x86 or Win32 binaries, and, even if they could run on ARM, ARM doesn't produce good results on a single core for these non-multithreaded apps.

      That means they need an fast tablet probably with a keyboard and mouse=>Surface Pro 3.

      They could still do RT (ResTricted?) which just disables desktop apps for small screen devices, but the whole "low-power cpu" just messes with their licensing model and customer expectations a lot.

  12. fzz

    Interestingly Winbeta has an article about a new ARM-based Windows tablet in the works. Also, if some version of Windows 10 can run on Raspberry Pi 2s, it should also be able to run on ARM tablets with at least the same RAM and storage.

    It'd be more than a little amusing if MSFT sold Windows for ARM as retail licenses and provided how-to guides for jail breaking tablets with other OSes and replacing the OS with Windows.

    1. Nya

      That's the weird one though isn't it. It's coming to Pi, but not tablets. There was the other week the info they were yes going to have "something" on the tablets which sounded very much like what occurred with the WinMo 7 devices getting something with looked vaguely like 8 on them, but wasn't. Doing something like that might be good enough for the RT devices, and even the Pi.

      1. Tom 7 Silver badge

        RE: That's the weird one though isn't it

        No - its an attempt at marketing. They are hoping there are a new generation coming through that will use the (free I believe?) windows on the Pi and then perhaps want to run it on other licensable machines.

        Given that the new Pi seems more than powerful enough for most home use (and most office use too TBH) I can easily see it replacing most devices around as it should be easy to clip onto the back of a screen for keyboard driven use - you can make a decent PC for under £150 and watch telly on it too now!

        Most people using the (old) Pi seem very happy with the non-MS software they are running on it - MS are in a huge hole here and seem to being swept down it.

        1. billse10

          Re: RE: That's the weird one though isn't it

          " (free I believe?) windows" - say that again? Free, as in free, for commercial use? And supported?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    casting doubt

    nice and cautious there, El Reg.

    Looks dead in the water there to me, but what do I know

  14. CheesyTheClown Silver badge

    I wonder if the author is dense

    Last I checked, Windows 10 which is the core of the new Windows Phone OS will also be running ... Windows 10... on ARM.

    I wonder if anyone notices that Windows has run (in one flavor or another) on ARM for over 10 years.

    Windows 10 on ARM will be completely supported and the Raspberry Pi 2 port is nothing more than a fun toy which happens to be a a BSP port to the Pi 2. It's a great idea if for no other reason but people will be able to do Pi projects using Visual Studio. You can also do Edison, Gallileo and Curie projects the same way and that's a headless x86 version.

    Too bad people write about things without first researching them

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Evil question ..

    .. just how much did Intel pay to get MS to drop ARM?

    I am just curious just how Intel maintains its quasi monopoly, that's all. As far as I can tell, it's not really through innovation.

  16. Paul IT
    Unhappy

    Sad day

    I like the Lumia 2520, its simple and the 4G option with EE means today is not a good day.

    The down side was the limited apps in the store and thus could not get GotYa to be installed and with BT swallowing EE, expect 4G to become 3 times more expensive and less stable.

    The tablet had the MS Office applications without the Office 365 overpriced subscriptions

    So real work could be done on it with a bluetooth keyboard and mouse.

    A sad day.

  17. Simon Rockman

    When these hit the likes of Morgan they will be an amazing buy. I love my orginal RT, it's very slim has a usable keyboard and makes a great laptop replacement.

    Who would want a chromebook instead?

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It is simply those 2 missing letters. RT ain't going anywhere.

    They are simply removing the RT bit from Windows.

    Windows 10, is Windows RT reincarnated, at least on the ARM version.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Microsoft's entry in the Hitchhikers Guide: Mostly armless.

  20. chivo243 Silver badge

    Where to start?

    Windows RT, codename Really Troubling. Late to the party IMO... Swing and a miss...

    However, let us not forget all of the other tech company's utter failures. My favorite was named Newton. There are enough cool failures to learn the lesson: Keep on trying. Maybe someday MS will get it right.

  21. skyledavis

    What strategic void are you talking about???

    "How (and indeed if) Microsoft plans to fill the strategic void left by its Windows RT devices, however, is a little murky."

    Are you talking about the strategy of using ARM in tablets? Because other than that, I see no strategic void. Windows 10 still has a huge tablet focus (and, in fact, promises to be a much better tablet experience, if their plans work). Intel just finally caught up to the demands of the market. There is no functional difference between an Atom-driven Windows tablet vs. an RT tablet, other than the inability to install Win32 apps. That was always the problem.

    With Continuum and the other advances in Windows 10, I see no strategic void here, other than the use of ARM.

  22. This post has been deleted by its author

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    it's all Windows Phone 7 again :-(

    "...working on an update for Windows RT" that "will have some of the functionality of Windows 10""

    This is exactly what happened with first time supporters of Windows Phone (WP7).

    I really hope that Windows 10 FAILS big time! Pulling the same ugly stunt on consumers TWICE! No matter how "good" Win10 is, F U M$.

  24. Mevi

    I only read this as the Surface RT product line is dead...

    "ARM devices will continue to be a crucial part of the range of devices Windows 10 supports, with an optimized experience for ARM-based phones, phablets and small tablets up to 8 inches."

    There will still be ARM based tablet devices, only that those with an OG Surface RT or Surface 2 (and,I guess, the other non-Microsoft RT based tablets) will not get W10.

    I am imagining a time that OEMs of ARM based <8" tablets get free W10 sans desktop licences, similar to the current "8.1 with Bing" arrangement. I read something, somewhere from Microsoft in recent days that suggested that <8" devices won't get desktop.

  25. John Styles

    To the tune (approximately) of Elstree by Buggles:

    Redmond, remember me?

    I wrote an app once for Win RT

    But now it's history

    Redmond, ah look at me

    oh-o-oh

    I should have stuck with Windows 3

    oh-o-oh

    life is not what it used to be

  26. Lorin Thwaits

    Three years gone

    Gosh, when is this tablet circus going to end? Somehow I think Nadella has a pulse on what's up, and wants to go the right direction. He got dealt a pathetic hand by his predecessor.

    At least the Longhorn code base has been leaned up quite a bit ... no more sidebar or aero. Completely at the expense of usability. Powershell was a great addition. Let's not discount that. C# plus CLI = good stuff all around.

    But god damn, let Ballmer's ideas die already. He is gone ... he might as well be off in some corner painting like George W is. Bush dealt a horrible hand to the current incumbent, and while Obama has not been the sterling decision-maker that liberals have longed for, he's still doing at least an OK job. Fewer wars I guess.

    Anyway, can we finally get back to a usable OS??? I will NOT ever install a touch screen in order to administer a rack of servers. EVER. I transitioned to a bash shell on OSX because charms should only be found on bracelets worn by washed-up 90s kids.

    Been 30+ years using the MS platform (ever since Altar BASIC 4K) and the last 3 years have been completely wasted.

    Actually no ... screw it. Let's all just buy Macs. Swift is pretty awesome.

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