Between Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 and Windows RT, it may seem to some that Microsoft has released too many disparate versions of Windows for consumers to keep track - just as an executive at Dell reportedly predicted would occur.
Dell Vice Chairman and President of Global Operations and End User Computing Solutions Jeff Clarke told The Australian Financial Review that he at one point urged Microsoft to change the name of the Windows RT operating system used on ARM-based tablets like Microsoft's Surface.
A Windows device should be compatible with all Windows applications, Clarke argued, but Windows RT tablets are not. Thus, the mobile OS should not carry the "Windows" moniker.
But Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer reportedly told Clarke that the Windows brand was just too important to drop.
Windows RT Confusion on Twitter
There's little doubt that Clarke's prediction has come true - Microsoft has even reportedly had to relax its own return policies due to customers' confusion over the various versions of Windows.
Twitter users have been sounding off as well: "I keep wondering what Windows is retweeting," wrote CIO Online Editor Brian Eastwood on Monday, referring to the tendency to abbreviate retweet as "RT" on Twitter.
Another user, Corey Ginnivan, echoed that sentiment last Wednesday, tweeting, "I can never tell if your [sic] telling me to Retweet or if you're talking about the Surface."
There isn't even a simple way to determine which Windows apps will work on Windows RT devices when you're browsing the Windows app store from a non-RT device.
When queried repeatedly by one Twitter user last Thursday, Microsoft's official @Surface account replied that the only way to see which apps are Windows RT-compatible is to check each individual app's "details" tab to make sure that ARM is listed as a supported processor.
A future for Windows RT
Microsoft even launched a dedicated site to explain the difference between the Surface with Windows RT and the Windows 8 Surface model, but that seems to have done little to alleviate Windows users' confusion.
Nevertheless, Dell Vice President of Consumer Marketing Neil Hand insisted to The Australian Financial Review that "there's a future for RT."
"Making sure we educate the market place on the differences was going to be a necessary action no matter what," he said.
"Just calling it something different is not going to solve the problem."
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