As an organization transitions to Windows 8, it seems only natural to consider the question of whether or not Windows RT has a place in your organization as well.
In case you are not familiar with Windows RT, Windows RT stands for Windows Run Time. It is a version of Windows that is very similar to Windows 8, but that is designed to run on ARM processors. Windows RT is the operating system that runs on Microsoft's Surface tablets (but not the Pro edition).
In my opinion, Windows RT definitely has a place in organizations that are currently transitioning to Windows 8. There are a number of advantages to allowing Windows 8 tablets in your organization.
The first advantage has to do with end-user expectations. End users expect to be able to connect to corporate network resources from a variety of devices and from just about anywhere. The problem with this expectation is that it is not entirely realistic. Although many organizations have successfully implemented a bring-your-own-device policy, there are a mind-boggling number of security and supportability issues that must be taken into account.
Providing users with Windows RT tablets can help to make the transition to bring your own device a lot easier. For one thing, Windows RT is so similar to Windows 8 that the help desk should not have any trouble supporting it. This might not necessarily be the case for other types of tablets. For example, if your organization has helpdesk staff that are highly trained on Windows 8, but that have never received any sort of formalized training on the iPad or Android tablets than they might have trouble supporting those types of devices.
Windows RT also has certain advantages when it comes to security. For one thing, using Windows RT greatly decreases the chances of a user contracting a malware infection. Although there have been countless viruses, keyloggers, and other types of malware written for Windows, those pieces of malware target the x86/x64 platforms. Windows RT runs on ARM processors, which means that malware designed to run on X86 or X64 processors will not be able to run on a Windows RT device.
Another advantage to providing users with Windows RT tablets is that Windows RT includes Microsoft Office. At first, this might not exactly be earth-shattering news, but having Office built in provides two very real advantages.
First, the fact that Windows RT tablets come with Microsoft Office means that you won't have to purchase an Office license for tablet users. When you consider that Office usually gets installed onto corporate laptops, you can begin to appreciate the cost savings.
The other advantage is to having Office on Windows RT is that tablet users will be able to work using the same productivity suite that they use in the office. A user can create a document on their desktop computer and open it on their tablet or visa versa.
Windows RT is the only tablet operating system that includes Microsoft Office. Currently Microsoft is shipping Surface tablets with the Office 2013 Preview release. This is essentially an Office 2013 beta edition. However, Microsoft is going to provide Surface users with the final Office 2013 build when it becomes available.
Office does not come with other mobile platforms. Microsoft is preparing to create a version of Office for the iPad, but it will have to be licensed separately.
Another aspect of providing users with Windows RT tablets that is worth considering is that of management. Theoretically, you should be able to use your existing management software to manage a Windows RT device because Windows RT is so similar to Windows 8. In reality, however, device management might initially prove to be illusive.
How effectively your organization will be able to manage Windows RT devices depends heavily on the management software that you are using. Much of the third-party management software for Windows environment depends on the use of client-side agents. The problem is that Windows RT devices use ARM processors, which means that agents cannot be used unless they have been recompiled for use with Windows RT.
Another factor that might complicate device management is that many management products for Windows depend on Active Directory domain membership. The Windows RT operating system cannot be domain joined, which means that management software that requires managed devices to be domain joined cannot be used to manage Windows RT.
In spite of these limitations, I still think that Windows RT tablets are a good fit for mobile users in Windows organizations. The tablets provide users with a familiar operating system and Microsoft Office, and they can be secured using standard ActiveSync policies.