Dead Man Walking: Windows RT 8.1 Update 3 Won’t Bring Universal App Support To Surface 2 Tablets

Microsoft’s well-intentioned, but ultimately doomed Windows RT operating system (and the accompanying Surface and Surface 2 tablets) is one of Microsoft’s most high-profile boondoggles in recent memory. Initially developed as a somewhat low-cost answer to iPad and Android tablets, tablets running Windows RT never really took off with consumers (while the Surface Pro 2 and Surface Pro 3 tablets have seen much greater adoption).

Microsoft saw the writing on the wall and discontinued the Surface 2 earlier this year. Although most in the tech community didn’t shed a tear over this announcement, it was a blow to those that bought into Microsoft’s ARM-based Windows operating system. Surface RT and Surface 2 customers were a bit more optimistic when it was announced that Windows RT 8.1 Update 3 – which is coming next month -- would receive Start menu and lock screen enhancements that would bring it more in line with Windows 10.

Surface 2

However, one of the big benefits of Windows 10 won’t be making it to Windows RT, and that’s support for Universal Apps. That’s right, Universal Apps will be supported on ARM-powered Windows 10 Mobile smartphones, Windows PCs and even the Xbox One; but Surface RT customers are being left out of the loop which is yet another indicator that Microsoft sees no future for the operating system.

"Surface (RT, Surface 2 and third-party ARM-based Windows PCs and tablets) only run apps built for RT and not Universal Windows Apps,” said a Microsoft spokesman in a statement to ZDNet. “There are lots of apps that work on RT, so they'll be able to continue to enjoy apps, games, music and movie content.”

That may be tough pill to swallow for Windows RT users, but you can’t say that you weren’t warned by everyone and their grandma that the operating system was a dead end from the start.