Microsoft promises to support Surface RT for 4+ years
But it's mum on the lifecycle of Windows RT, the OS that also powers OEMs' tablets
Computerworld - Microsoft will support its Surface RT tablet with updates, including security patches, until April 2017, or nearly four-and-a-half years after its launch.
The support lifecycle for the Surface with Windows RT tablet is less than half the usual 10 years Microsoft allots its software products -- including Windows 8 -- but is considerably longer than what Apple has given the first-generation iPad, which has already dropped off the Cupertino, Calif. company's list.
ZDNet blogger Ed Bott first reported on Microsoft's publication of the Surface RT's lifecycle.
Microsoft will support the Surface RT only in the "Mainstream" support phase, presumably because it's considered a consumer product. The company typically supports consumer-grade software only during that five-year period; all business software, as well as some titles that are designed for consumers, such as Office Home and Student 2010, receive another five-year stretch, called "Extended" support, for a total of 10 years.
The company usually supports its in-house hardware, such as the July-launched Wedge Touch Mouse, which was touted as an accessory for Windows 8-based tablets and laptops, for five years. Microsoft classified the Surface RT as hardware in its support lifecycle index.
It's not clear why Microsoft decreased the Surface RT's support lifespan by a year from the normal hardware lifecycle: Bott speculated that it may have been because the tablet was "a hardware-software combo, [and] plays by a different set of rules, apparently."
But the four-years-and-change for the Surface RT is twice what Apple granted the original iPad.
iOS 6, which Apple launched in September, does not work on the original iPad.
Assuming Apple hews to that unwritten support plan, it will dump the iPad 2 from its list in mid-2013.
The disparity between the two companies' support policies isn't unusual. Both Microsoft's typical decade of support and its five years for hardware and some consumer products, exceeds the 35-month average support lifespan of OS X, the operating system that powers Apple's Mac personal computers.
Unlike Microsoft, Apple never puts its support lifecycle lengths in writing.
But while Microsoft revealed the Surface RT's lifecycle, it declined to spell out how long it will support Windows RT, the touch-enabled, tile-based OS that runs not only the Surface, but some tablets sold by other computer makers.
In a cryptic FAQ published on its support site, Microsoft said only, "Microsoft will make software updates, including security updates, available for Windows RT. Additional information regarding the Windows RT lifecycle policy will be communicated as available."
Supporting Windows RT -- as opposed to the Surface RT -- for less than 10 years would be a dramatic departure for Microsoft, and could raise the ire of customers, especially businesses that have adopted, or plan to, the mobile operating system.
For example, Windows 8, which Microsoft also launched Oct. 26, remains in Mainstream support until Jan. 9, 2018, and won't be fully retired until Jan. 10, 2023, when it exits Extended support.
To demarcate Windows RT's lifecycle as shorter than a decade would also rub against a move Microsoft made last February, when it quietly extended support for the consumer versions of Windows 7 and Windows Vista by five years, for a total of 10, to synchronize them with the lifespan of enterprise editions.
The lifecycle for Surface RT could be a harbinger of a shorter-than-usual support lifetime for Surface Pro, the not-yet-released tablet Microsoft plans to launch at the end of January 2013. That tablet will be powered by an Intel processor, and run Windows 8 Pro.
More tablet info
The table below shows the most recently announced tablets as reported by Computerworld. Click a tablet's name in the leftmost column to read a news story or review with more information about the device, or view a larger table with more details about each product.
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His email address is email@example.com.
- Microsoft support tells Surface Pro 2 owners firmware fix will ship Jan. 14
- As customers fume, Microsoft promises Surface Pro 2 firmware fix ASAP
- Analyst credits Surface sell-out to Microsoft swinging conservative
- Best Buy does what Microsoft won't: Takes Surface tablets in trade
- Deja vu all over again: Microsoft warns of Surface 2 sell-out
- Microsoft steers same strategic course in Surface do-over
- Dumping a Surface? eBay averages double the return of a buyback vendor
- Microsoft's Surface to be under revenue microscope
- Microsoft's most loyal users ask for Surface trade-in program
- Microsoft takes second swing at tablets with new Surface 2 lineup
Read more about Tablets in Computerworld's Tablets Topic Center.
- Best iPhone, iPad Business Apps for 2014
- 14 Tech Conventions You Should Attend in 2014
- 10 Desktop Apps to Power Your Windows PC
- How to Add New Job Skills Without Going Back to School
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
Red Hat Enterprise Linux - The Original Cloud Operating System
Linux adoption is growing against a number of measures, such as the
number of supercomputers that run Linux and the size of the contributing...
- OpenStack Hype vs. Reality: CIO Quick Pulse Open-source architecture can enable IT departments to build infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) clouds running on standard hardware.
- Building a Bridge to the Next Generation Data Center Selecting a widely adopted operating system is a foundational component of a standardization strategy.
- OpenStack and Red Hat: IDC White paper Most OpenStack deployments are by public cloud providers that are early adopters of technology and use OpenStack in a do-it-yourself deployment and support...
- Webinar: Building a Big Data solution that's production-ready Big data solutions are no longer just a nice-to-have.
- Meg Whitman presents Unlocking IT with Big Data During this Web Event you will hear Meg Whitman, President and CEO, HP discuss HAVEn - the #1 Big Data platform, as well... All Tablets White Papers | Webcasts