Explaining Windows RT vs Windows 8 to a 70+ year old

With Windows RT and Windows 8 devices now appearing (e.g. Surface running Windows RT is now available for pre-order) I found myself on the phone this evening being asked “Which should I get? What is the difference?”. The person asking is over 70 and buys me birthday presents. It was therefore super important I gave the right advice in a way they would understand.

I paused.

I thought.

I took in a deep breadth.

And came up with the following.

“Both are great – super easy to use. You will love either one. But there are differences. Windows 8 runs all the applications you use on Windows 7 today. It also runs thousands of great new applications, many of which are free and which you simply download from the new Windows Store.

These new applications behave really well – super easy to find and install and all work great with touch and each other. They even use less battery power. You will really love the new apps.

Windows RT just runs the new applications – hence it will go wrong far less often and will work for ages on battery.”

They paused for a while. Then came the follow up questions about Windows RT.

“Can I browse the web?”

“Can I do email?”

“Can I use word?”

“Can I use excel?”

“Can I play games?”

“Can I watch tv and movies?”

“Can I use my printer?”

The answer I gave was “Yes”.

Then came:

“Can I play my Microsoft Flight Simulator X?”

The answer I gave was “No”.

“Ahhh… I understand.”

They haven’t yet decided which they will get. They will make the choice when they get to see them in shops – but they absolutely understand the difference. I hope 🙂


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