Understanding what Surface 2 really is and what’s not

Surface 2 on ARM and running Windows RT 8.1

Microsoft recently introduced a new version of Surface RT, which now is simply called “Surface 2”. The tablet isn’t just an upgrade, but it’s a revamp from the previous version; the Surface team has done an incredible job making the device thinner, lighter, and a lot faster (for the full tech specifications, check out this article). And even though the Windows RT 8.1 tablet has improved dramatically, let’s not make the same mistake twice and let’s clarify what this device is and what is not.

Right out of the bat you should understand that Microsoft isn’t reinventing the wheel here and many of the concerns from past aren’t changing. Surface 2 will continue to be only a companion device and not a laptop or a PC replacement.

SEE ALSO: Microsoft launches Surface 2: pricing, specs, and accessories

The new tablet still based on ARM-chipset (Nvidia Tegra 4 to be exact) and runs Windows RT 8.1. Basically all this means that because Surface 2 runs a stripped down version of the operating system, traditional Windows desktop applications, such as Photoshop, iTunes, Google Chrome, etc., won’t work in the new version, just for the simple reason that those applications run on x86/x64 Intel and AMD processors. The only apps you’ll be able to install are the ones specifically designed for Windows RT 8.1 and you can only install them through the Windows Store.

Talking about the Windows Store is important to note that when Microsoft launched the original Surface RT back in 2012, the store only had 10,000 apps, fast forward to today, there is more than 100,000 apps and more big brands are coming soon, such as Facebook and Flipboard. So pretty much all the apps you use on your phone or other mobile devices, you’ll find them in the store.

For those wondering, the software giant will continue its support with Windows RT for ARM because it enables cheaper software price point and devices on ARM-based chipsets have better battery life. It also helps to PC makers to ship tablets without bloatware and Windows RT is less susceptible to viruses.

For all these reasons, if you want a tablet that is powerful and can be used as a PC replacement. You’ll be better off getting a Surface Pro 2 64GB or 256GB (why this particular choices? Because one will give you 4GB and the other 8GB of RAM).

This has been a bumpy ride for Microsoft, Surface RT hasn’t been selling well since day one and many people even accused the company on lack of communication with customers on what they were really getting with Surface RT. Now the company seems to be doing things a bit differently, for example, Surface Pro 2 was introduced first at the New York City launch event — which if you remember from the first launch, the company released Surface RT first and Surface Pro three months later, something that many people thought was a big mistake –, and both Windows 8.1 devices will be released at the same time on October 22nd.

Lastly, another important change to pay attention to is that the “RT” suffix does not appear anymore in the “Surface 2” name. Microsoft is even trying to erase the “RT” suffix from the original Surface (you can see this at the Microsoft Store online page when trying to pre-order one of the new tablets). These two subtle changes may confuse some people, but be advised that both Surface and Surface 2 run Windows RT 8.1, which is not the full version of Windows 8.1.

What do you think about Microsoft’s latest tablet?

About the author

Mauro Huculak is a Windows expert and the Editor-in-Chief who started Pureinfotech in 2010 as an independent online publication. He is also been a Windows Central contributor for nearly a decade. Mauro has over 12 years of experience writing comprehensive guides and creating professional videos about Windows, software, and related technologies, including Android and Linux. Before becoming a technology writer, he was an IT administrator for seven years. In total, Mauro has over 20 years of combined experience in technology. Throughout his career, he achieved different professional certifications from Microsoft (MSCA), Cisco (CCNP), VMware (VCP), and CompTIA (A+ and Network+), and he has been recognized as a Microsoft MVP for many years. You can follow him on X (Twitter), YouTube, LinkedIn and About.me.