Windows RT Has a Place in Your Windows 8 Deployment

Brien Posey, Freelance Writer and Former CIO | 2/26/2013 | 32 comments

Brien Posey
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.

View Comments: Newest First | Oldest First | Threaded View
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PositivelyKeith   Windows RT Has a Place in Your Windows 8 Deployment   7/30/2013 3:59:40 PM
Re: Office Suite
@soozyg I agree and I find my tablet (Samsung Note 10.1) provides a far more agile experience than my work laptop when switching between various screens and applications.
TJGUK   Windows RT Has a Place in Your Windows 8 Deployment   7/1/2013 11:24:06 AM
Re: Windows RT uptake
Well as we have recently seen, certainly the US is watching and I would not be surprised if other governments are doing the same thing. This exposure leaves the cloud open to attacks from governemnts should they decide a business is unfriendly to the regime. If the government attacks it will be from the military so the damage will be a lot worse than some pimply teenager in Romania!
soozyg   Windows RT Has a Place in Your Windows 8 Deployment   6/30/2013 10:35:17 PM
Re: Office Suite
PositivelyKeith, I hear ya. I bring it with me, for instance, use to while getting my oil changed or waiting for the doctor, and it always turns out that I need multiple screens to reference things when I'm writing. I end up catching up on my emails instead.....
soozyg   Windows RT Has a Place in Your Windows 8 Deployment   6/30/2013 10:33:02 PM
Re: Office Suite
Zaius, that's a good question and if I had to venture a guess I'd say not many genetic/consumer users consider a Word processor for their iPad/tablet. I wouldn't have downloaded Pages if I didn't think I'd have to work my iPad sometimes.
PositivelyKeith   Windows RT Has a Place in Your Windows 8 Deployment   6/30/2013 4:02:27 PM
Re: Office Suite
@soozyg I have to say I generally do not use my tablet for anything other then web stuff. I too expected to use it fir more word stuff. However, I deliberately bought a Samsung because of the built in stylus and I discovered an app called Papyrus which enables me to draw freehand mindmaps which are my way of taking notes at meetings etc..
soozyg   Windows RT Has a Place in Your Windows 8 Deployment   6/30/2013 10:49:08 AM
Re: Office Suite
StaceyE I have Pages on my iPad. I have to admit I never use it. I thought I would use it if I was out of the house and needed to start some work, but I really end up just coming home and using my desktop, which I love.
Zaius   Windows RT Has a Place in Your Windows 8 Deployment   6/29/2013 11:50:22 PM
Re: Office Suite
Right now many people have a laptop and a tablet, and they do not mind not having office in tablet. But, when someone has a tablet only, then office will be a deciding factor.

From our enterprise view point, having the office in a tablet as a out of box solution is welcome. However, if I am just thinking about the global sales of tablets, how many generic consumers (not the corporate ones) consider having it in their tablet? I am just curious. 

Randomus   Windows RT Has a Place in Your Windows 8 Deployment   6/29/2013 2:28:12 PM
Re: Windows RT uptake
TJGUK: Cloud security is something that should be discussed, but I think it's more end users concerned about it – many of the B2B clients I speak with ask questions and want to know about what security measures are in place, but that doesn't mean they are willing to simply ignore the cloud. Honestly, I don't think North Korea, China, Iran, Russia, and other nations are the big threat of attacking private sector B2B, as I think it's more sophisticated rogue attacks targeting a company specifically. It's much more likely someone accidentally leaves a backdoor open that someone poking around finds and exploits, not some organized foreign nation.
StaceyE   Windows RT Has a Place in Your Windows 8 Deployment   6/29/2013 2:18:27 PM
Re: Office Suite
@ soozyg

I have an ereader (Kindle Fire) and while I can do some things on it like a tablet it is does not have the capabilities that many of the droid powered tablets, iPads and other tablets do. I have an app that allows me to view Word Documents on it, but I can't create them which is a bummer.
soozyg   Windows RT Has a Place in Your Windows 8 Deployment   6/29/2013 1:25:21 PM
Re: Office Suite
I agree, StaceyE, it would be a deciding factor for me as well. For now I have to download a separate Word-based app, it's annoying.
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