Windows RT may struggle to win enterprise adoption

Microsoft customer panel agreed they would all opt for Windows 8 over Windows RT

Enterprises are leaning towards adoption of full Intel-based Windows 8 devices, rather than lighter-weight Windows RT devices running on ARM processors.

At a press event in London earlier this week, a customer panel made up of representatives from BT, Poste Italiane and the Dutch Public Prosecution Service all said that they were unlikely to invest in Windows RT.

"I don't think we'll see BT buy many RT devices," said Peter Scott, consultant at BT. "Obviously we'll see them appear in the BYOD (bring your own device) space."

Edwin MacGillavry, deputy director of the Bureau for Criminal Law Studies at the Dutch Public Prosecution Service, said that the DPPS would not be using Windows RT because it does not offer the complete range of security options.

"I would say it's nice for some people but for us security is paramount so from that point of view we will stick to the Intel x86 machines," he said.

Meanwhile, Vincent Nicola Santacroce, head of research and development at Poste Italiane, said that the organisation was still investigating Windows RT, but that it "doesn't want to move to something that looks like an iPad with all the limitations of that".

Erwin Visser, senior director at Microsoft, said that Microsoft has distributed Windows RT devices to its sales people as "companion devices," but has also given them Intel devices for their "core workloads".

He argued that Windows RT does have a role in the enterprise, giving enterprise customers "additional choice".

"Devices are sleek, thin, have long battery life and can be used for specific cases," he said.

Windows RT supports all apps from the Windows store, and also includes Office components - Word, Excel, Powerpoint and OneNote. It also supports the majority of PC peripherals via USB connection.

"When you plug in a USB device, the device automatically goes into desktop mode. Windows RT systems have a desktop where you run your desktop version of Internet Explorer or your Office apps, and it opens my USB disk and it shows my files," said Visser.

Windows RT also supports full data encryption and "sideloading" of apps within the enterprise (transferring data between two local devices).

Visser acknowledged concerns that Windows 7 line of business apps do not run natively on the Windows RT operating system. However, he claimed that Microsoft's RemoteApp technology enables such apps to run remotely on a data centre server, while still offering the same experience as if it were run locally.

"It's a remote app infrastructure, and as a user in my IT organisation I can just click on the tile as if it was any other Windows RT app," said Visser.

ARM announced last week that it is working with Microsoft to tune the Windows OS to work on processors based on ARM's 64-bit architecture. (Windows RT currently only runs on ARM tablets with 32-bit processors).

The 32-bit Windows RT OS has a limited memory ceiling, and a 64-bit Windows RT OS would expand the memory capacity in tablets and PCs. A 64-bit version of Windows on ARM would also bring it on par with Windows 8, the company said.

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Sophie Curtis

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