Windows RT/ARM – Does It Offer Nearly As Many Benefits As X86?

When I’ve talked about Windows 8 on the tablet, I’ve had mostly positive things to say, that being said I’ve also focused a great deal of my points on how Windows 8 x86 tablets have a lot to offer compared to options like iPad and the Android tablet market. What about Windows RT and ARM though? Where do they stand?

I recently made a list talking about five ways that Windows 8 will appeal to tablet users, I’m not going to repeat these reasons, since you can just read them for yourself. That being said, one of my key points was that a Windows tablet runs WINDOWS.

It has application backwards compatibility and can use a large array of Window-based accessories. It also can play many of today’s lower-end PC games without hitch, using a wireless keyboard and mouse.. BUT that’s x86 again. What about ARM?

I’ve been a little critical on the ARM version of Windows 8, aka Windows RT, saying that it doesn’t have as much to offer and is like ‘restarting’ since you won’t be able to use any Windows legacy stuff. It isn’t that a pure Metro experience is a bad one, it just takes away the biggest advantage that Window 8 has going for it – Windows application support.

Really thinking about it though, Windows RT tablet could truly be game changers, and it’s taken until now for me to wake up and see this.

Why?

They can be much cheaper for one thing. While x86 tablets are basically full Windows PCs without keyboard/mouse attached, an ARM tablet will likely have a price tag that is several hundreds of dollars cheaper, and perhaps as low as around $300 for basic units. Okay, but Android has that, and if rumors about iPad Minis prove correct, so might Apple.

What neither now offer though, is multi-user support or nearly as robust of a Family Safety system as Windows 8. While I still love PCs, more and more ‘casual’ users are finding that tablets are great for families. Today, many families pass around the iPad or, like in my family’s case, an Android tablet. Unfortunately, these devices were more like cell-phones, in that they are really designed with one user in mind.

Windows is truly a multi-user experience, allowing each of the kids/adults in your family to have different backgrounds, apps, and even files. You don’t have to worry about your three year old accidentally deleting something from YOUR profile. While this might not be as big of a problem when tablets were just for multimedia consumption, more users are actually creating on their iPads and Android devices.

So you can have a family friendly Windows RT tablet for around $300, or get a similar ARM device for roughly the same that is more locked into one user. Which do you choose? As a parent, I’d say the multi-user experience.

The trick for Windows tablet success, ARM and x86 alike, isn’t in the technology. The technology and features are EXCEPTIONAL in Windows 8, even if you aren’t a Metro fan. Where the war will truly be waged is in advertising and consumer relations.

If Microsoft can clearly paint its device as family friendly, gamer friendly, enterprise friendly and so on, well then I foresee them doing pretty well in the long run.

What about you?

Do you plan on getting a Windows 8-based tablet?

If so, ARM or X86? As always, share your thoughts below.

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