What are the differences: Windows 8 vs Windows RT?

So, the greatest changes in the Windows family since the release of Windows 95 – and this was no less than 17 years ago, finally took place – Windows 8 was released and is offered in three key ways.

Windows 8 is the standard version for personal computers and laptops, Windows 8 Pro is its more complex and functional option for demanding users, and Windows 8 RT is from the abbreviated Runtime, that is, the runtime (meaning battery life) is completely new and completely another version.

So which option should you choose when buying a new device – tablets with Windows 8, such as Microsoft Surface or a PC? Below we briefly review the main differences between these OSs.

What are the differences: Windows 8 vs Windows RT?

Upgradeability and box versions

Windows RT is only available as a predefined option on new devices. Windows 8 will be available pre-installed on new PCs, but also, of course, it can be purchased at retail in a boxed version, as well as in the form of upgrades.

The cost of two versions

Windows RT is difficult to evaluate, since it is impossible to purchase it at retail, but the royalties for developers will be significantly lower than in the case of using Windows 8 or Windows 8 Pro. Devices based on Windows RT will cost less than similar devices with Windows 8, in addition, users of Windows RT will not have to pay separately for applications such as Word, PowerPoint, Excel and others from the Office series.


Upgrading to Windows RT is not possible in principle, since it is a completely new platform on the market. Upgrading to Windows 8 is possible for users of the Windows 7 system in versions of Starter, Home Basic or Home Premium. You can also upgrade from versions of Windows 7 Ultimate or Professional, but then you will have to do the installation on top of the old version. If you upgrade to Windows 8 Pro, then an update is possible for any version of the seventh generation of the OS, but of course with the caveat: 32-bit systems can only be upgraded to 32-bit versions, and 64-bit systems to similar ones.

Hardware support

The most important difference between the two considered versions of Windows is the work with hardware. Windows RT only works with devices based on processors with the ARM architecture, and Windows 8 with x86 processors familiar to desktop and laptop owners. That is, running Windows 8 on a Surface tablet is just as impossible as Windows RT on a laptop with an Intel or AMD processor.


Both new versions of Windows have a new interface called Metro, while Windows 8 can also switch to the traditional desktop version for older applications. Windows RT cannot boast the same thing: despite having the old Windows desktop for some native applications, this mode cannot be used when running third-party applications.

Software and compatibility

There is one significant difference: Windows RT has a pre-installed Office suite, while Windows 8/8 Pro does not. True, the latter are compatible with existing programs for Windows, but Windows RT is not. Windows RT applications must use the special Microsoft interface, and Windows 8 applications can also use the traditional Windows desktop.

Windows RT also severely limits the list of APIs developers can use, especially for web browsers.


As you might guess, Windows RT does not allow you to take advantage of the wealth of opportunities that are available in Windows 8. There is, for example, Windows Media Player or Bitlocker encryption, there is no way to manage group policies or support domains.

In general, the differences here are not as radical as you might imagine – both versions support many languages, have a new version of IE10 browser, Xbox Live, Windows Defender, Exchange ActiveSync and others.

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