With Windows 8 and Windows RT about to be unleashed among consumers in just two days, the reviews for the lesser known part of Microsoft’s upcoming Windows strategy – Windows RT, which was designed so as to allow Microsoft to wrangle some business from the growing ARM tablet market – has been put thoroughly through its paces. Unfortunately, not all reviewers love what they see – but most are optimistic.
The Verge writes in their review of the Asus Vivo Tab RT:
…the Start screen is fluid and smooth, the gestures are responsive and useful, and thanks to the great live tiles you can glean a lot of information without ever launching an app. If you do launch an app, though, the experience gets frustrating very quickly. Apps can take several seconds to load at all and several more to load fully; there are stutters and lags as you swipe through apps; some taps and gestures just don’t register.
I’d blame developers, but the problems are equally persistent within Microsoft’s own apps. I’d blame the hardware, but the Vivo Tab runs a 1.3GHz Tegra 3 processor, which we’ve proven over and over again is a very capable processor.
They go on to write more about these sorts of issues in their review of the much sought after Microsoft Surface:
Switching between apps was fast and fluid, organizing and navigating the Start screen felt snappy, and live tiles flipped and updated smoothly and as expected. Many of the first-party apps — particularly Internet Explorer in the new interface — felt good to me, but others left me wanting. The native email application, for instance, could be slow to update and unresponsive to touch on a regular basis. Other apps, both first and third-party, could be slow to open, then stall or crash altogether. Some 3D games, such asRocket Riot, seemed fluid and natural, while others staggered along, seemingly struggling to pump out an acceptable frame rate.
Engadget also notes Windows RT’s deficiency at recognizing common video formats:
Video playback support is rather limited at this point. The system will play WMV and MK4 files, but the system has no idea what to do with MKV files by default, and even an old AVI file we tried to play failed miserably. So, if you were hoping this machine would be as adept at playing back video files in any ‘ol format you throw at it, like the x86 version of Windows is, you’re bound for disappointment.
There were, however, many positives to be had. Almost ever review of a device running Windows RT I read couldn’t shove enough praise on the softwares efficient use of battery life, with most reviews agreeing that Windows RT devices thus far not only deliver on battery life promises, they over deliver. Interestingly however, Windows RT is unable to give any sort of battery estimates of the sort that traditional Windows 8 devices give, as noted by ArsTechnica’s review of the Asus Vivo Tab RT (which was a little harsher on battery life than either The Verge or Engadget):
One particularly annoying quirk (and one that may well apply to all Windows RT tablets) is that Windows refuses to give a battery life estimate that you get on normal Windows 8 systems. This issue appears to be related to ARM’s hardware reporting features and is par for the course in many smartphones and tablets, but if you’re expecting Windows RT to act exactly like Windows 8 in this regard, you’ll be disappointed.