Microsoft "Windows Cloud" might be Windows RT in disguise

Few Windows versions have earned the hatred of even Microsoft's staunchest fans. That list includes Windows ME, Windows Vista, and, more recently, Windows RT. And yet it seems that Microsoft isn't ready to give up on the "RT" idea just yet. Microsoft is allegedly preparing a new version of Windows, based on Windows 10, of course, and it's calling it "Windows Cloud". According to sources, however, it has absolutely nothing to do with Microsoft's cloud products. Instead, it sounds pretty much like Windows RT, sans the now infamous name.

When it was launched, Windows RT didn't differ visually from Windows 8, which added to the feeling of deception. While Windows 8 was pretty much the same Windows underneath, Windows RT was a very different beast. It only allowed apps downloaded from the then nearly empty Windows app store and its ARM-based architecture made it impossible to even run traditional win32 software.

This "Windows Cloud" will apparently follow that same behavior with one important difference: there's no requirement, or at least mention, of using ARM vs x86 machines. Practically speaking, however, users of this version of Windows will still be limited to "Universal Windows Platform" or UWP apps from the Windows Store. But the store story has changed substantial since the Windows RT.

There are more apps now, for one, including popular names like Instagram. But perhaps more importantly, Microsoft has tools in place that makes it possible to turn a regular win32 desktop app into a makeshift UWP app. It won't enjoy all the benefits of native UWP apps, particularly in security and sandboxing, and it will probably be a bit limited compared to their full win32 counterparts. It's a compromise in order to be able to provide that same win32 software on the Windows Store.

What's the point, you might ask. It does defy logic that Microsoft would want to resurrect a product that has long been lambasted to death. The point, however, is lockdown. Windows RT devices, are, by nature, limited in what they can install, making it easier to manage the security of the device. As such, this Windows Cloud could be Microsoft's attempt at reclaiming a market segment that has been largely devoured by Apple's iPad and then by Google's Chromebooks.