Copywriter, technical writer, translator (FR>EN, ES>EN, IT>EN), journalist

Windows RT growing pains

Windows RT is worth checking out, but like all operating systems, it isn’t perfect. Here’s a list of gripes after a few weeks of using an Asus Vivo Tab RT.

App installs and updates

Installing an app for one user does not make that app accessible for other users, who need Microsoft accounts before they install apps. Also, Windows RT asks users to update apps even if someone has updated them under another user ID. (The short “second” update time suggests that RT recognizes updates performed by another user.) This in spite of the fact that another user has already installed said apps on the tablet.

Power management

If updates, whether for apps or Windows, take longer than the automatic power-down time you set, you might need to power up the tablet and restart said updates. A similar issue affected the National Film Board app while I was watching a documentary with the tablet propped up on a table, perfectly still. The issue doesn’t seem to happen when the tablet senses movement, like when you hold it in your hands, or if you touch the screen every few minutes. Again, no settings at the app or system level could be found to prevent this behavior.

PDF annotation

Microsoft’s Reader app opens PDFs and lets you annotate them IF they contain recognizable text. If not, the annotation features (highlighting and typing notes in the PDF) don’t work. Looks like I need to OCR such PDFs (like the ones that contain PowerPoint decks as images) before I can annotate them.

Unsocial app

The People app is meant to be a dashboard of sorts for social network accounts. While I laud Microsoft for trying a different design, it simply doesn’t compare to Hootsuite, so I uninstalled People and put a tile on my start screen for Hootsuite.

OS size and tablet capacity

A sticker on the box says that 32 GB Asus Vivo Tab tablets have only 15 GB available to users, and 64 GB models leave 44 GB free. Before you blame Asus, note that one disgruntled Microsoft Surface buyer, a lawyer no less, is suing Microsoft because of this so it’s apparently not just an Asus thing.

Esoteric complaints

I can’t seem to switch the clock to 24-hour time, since the Time settings in the General settings group don’t offer said option. I also haven’t figured out how to switch the Internet Explorer home page to Google from MSN, largely because that setting is also MIA. Make of that what you will, although you can “pin” a tile to the Start page for any website you want. (That’s how I’m using Hootsuite and Google on the Asus.)

Oh, by the way, when you hook up the Asus Vivo Tab RT to a Mac… nothing happens.

Double-edged swords

Some people complain that Windows RT won’t run software from Windows 7 and before, restricting people instead to a still-anemic collection of apps in its RT “Store.” While much of Microsoft’s installed base may protest, I like this strategy. Copying Apple’s “walled garden” approach may help Microsoft keep Windows RT free of the security shenanigans afflicting Google’s wide world of Android. Besides, I have it on good authority that Microsoft is approaching developers offering to cover half the costs of developing Windows RT-native versions of their apps.

A similar issue could mar the ability to hook up storage devices via USB. On the one hand, it’s really convenient for sharing files. That said, I’d install security software on a Windows RT tablet before loading files on it, even those from known sources.

Another matter that will divide people is the use of live tiles. These go beyond unread counts on mail icons and display stuff “going on” within the app. A photo app tile can flash pictures it contains, a social network app tile can flash updates from connections, a news app tile can flash latest headlines, and so forth. Since I’m trying to cut down “technology-induced ADD” I switch off most live tiles, but if you want a constantly updated dashboard on your Start screen, live tiles are for you.


In spite of my gripes, Microsoft’s Windows RT has the makings of a genuine competitor to Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android and ought to hold its own against any upcoming BlackBerry 10 OS-based tablets. Given time and further development effort, Microsoft can polish RT, but even in the near term, look for positive reviews of RT tablets and gradually increasing sales.

Do you have any gripes about Windows RT? Mention them in the comments below.