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Windows 8: Nine unanswered questions about the new OS

Jared Newman | Oct. 12, 2012
Despite the looming October 26 launch date of Windows 8, a handful of questions about Microsoft's next operating system remain. Some are big, some are small, but all should be relevant to hard-core PC users who have decided to take the Windows 8 plunge, as well as to people who plan to buy new Windows 8 hardware.

Adding to the mystery is a rumor, reported by Engadget, that Microsoft will sell the Surface RT for just $200. Microsoft may reach that price by bundling a subscription service, such as the new Office software, as a subsidy. And as far as display specs go, Microsoft has said that the RT version will have an "HD display," while the Pro version will have a "full HD display"but those labels are just marketing terms that don't correlate to standard resolution specs. Conventional wisdom suggests that the RT version will be 1366 by 768 pixels, and that the Pro version will be 1920 by 1080, but who really knows?

The RT version of Surface is slated to launch on October 26, right alongside Windows 8, so these mysteries can't last forever. Still, Surface is a highly anticipated product, and the sooner Microsoft can answer questions, the less anxious we tech enthusiasts will be.

How will Microsoft explain the difference between Windows 8 and RT to consumers?

Techies who have followed the development of Windows 8 and Windows RT know the difference by now. The former will run on x86-based processors and will support legacy software, while the latter will run on ARM-based chips, which won't support legacy software but are likely to foster cheaper, slimmer, and lighter devices.

The challenge for Microsoft's marketing team will be to communicate this difference clearly to the average consumer, who doesn't care about processor architecture and just wants everything to work. At the moment, it's unclear how Microsoft will define Windows 8 versus Windows RT for the layperson.

How many apps will be available at or around launch?

As of October 10, Microsoft's U.S. Windows Store contained about 2400 apps. That's certainly short of the five-digit goal that Microsoft has reportedly set for itself, and we don't know whether the situation will change by the time Windows 8 ships. Only time will tell whether Microsoft can get developers on board with the Windows Store and persuade them not to merely stick with the desktop.

 

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