Surface, Windows RT tablets receiving promised update soon (but not Windows 10)

Windows RT was a compromise for ARM-based tablets, and so is its upgrade path: new features, but not the whole, new operating system.

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Users of Microsoft’s original Surface and other Windows RT devices won’t have to wait much longer to get some features of Windows 10.

As WinBeta notes, Microsoft has updated its Windows 10 FAQ with a short line about what Windows RT users can expect. “If you’re running Windows RT, your device won’t upgrade to Windows 10, but we will have an update for you around the time of Windows 10 release,” the FAQ says. (Note: Microsoft's popular Surface Pro line runs the full-blown version of Windows and will receive Windows 10.)

Windows RT was Microsoft’s ill-conceived effort to run Windows on ARM, the architecture that powers most smartphones and tablets. Although Windows RT looked similar to Windows 8, it couldn’t run desktop software with the exception of Microsoft’s built-in apps and Office suite. The benefits of Windows RT were minimal, as Intel quickly closed the battery efficiency gap with its lightweight Atom processors, and the drawbacks of limited functionality and customer confusion were significant. PC vendors quickly abandoned ship on the whole concept.

With Windows 10, Microsoft is changing course. The only ARM-based Windows 10 devices will be descendants of Windows Phone, with screens 7 inches or smaller, and these devices won’t have a desktop mode. Larger devices will run full Windows 10 on x86-based processors, but will offer universal apps that run across all screen sizes.

In January, Microsoft said Windows RT devices will get some Windows 10 features in a future update, but the company hadn’t revealed timing until now. With Windows 10 set to launch on July 29, it sounds like users can expect their update some time this summer.

The impact on you at home: The update to Microsoft’s FAQ should provide some comfort to those who believed in Windows RT, though it doesn’t give any sense of what features they’ll actually get. Windows 10’s big ticket features include the Cortana virtual assistant, the new Edge browser, a pop-up desktop Start menu, and a “Continuum” feature that seamlessly switches between full-screen and windowed apps. Any bets on which of those features land in the updated Windows RT?

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