If you’re a long-time Windows user, you’re probably used to a certain way of satisfying your computing needs. If you want a particular kind of program—a tool to convert video from one format to another, or a program to help you learn another language, or a game to kill time while you’re sitting on a conference call—you go online and poke around until you find a developer who’s selling it. Maybe you check some reviews and do a little due diligence to make sure you’re not going to infect your computer with a virus, and then you hit “download now.”
If you decide to get a new Surface tablet with Windows RT, you can expect things to be a bit different. Instead of being able to get software from anywhere, you’ll be limited to shopping at the Windows Store. Fortunately, that’s not as bleak a fate as it would have been only a few months ago. Through a concerted effort, Microsoft has expanded its store since its launch in October to 20,000 apps.
Still, many developers say they’re not excited at the idea of writing apps for Windows RT, partly because of technical difficulties with the operating system and partly because the company needs to approve anything that goes in the store, and it’s not always clear what that will take. Another issue is that there just aren’t that many Surface users yet. As that changes, more developers may decide to go ahead and write for RT, but there’s still the question of what Microsoft will accept at the Windows Store.
For anyone who longs for more choice in what they can run on their Surface, there is another option—buy the version with Windows 8, which is capable of running a much broader array of software.