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From what I have read it seems there are more or less three versions(?) of Windows 8: Windows 8, Windows RT, and Windows Phone 8.

While the difference between Windows 8 and Windows RT is clear, I don't understand the difference between Windows RT and Windows Phone 8.

The Android parallel, Jelly Bean that runs on Tablets and on Phones doesn't have any differences.

Are there any differences between Windows RT and Windows Phone 8 except for the fact that one is for Tablets (Windows RT) and the other is for Phones (Windows Phone 8)?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 6 down vote accepted

As far as anyone can tell, windows RT is basically windows 8 recompiled for arm. Everything is windows like, right down to the command prompt(yes it has cmd.exe), and explorer. Its in the tradition of other, forgotten windows ports like that for Alpha and MIPS.

The fact that the only 'desktop' applications there are at launch is an artificial restriction - in theory windows desktop applications may work with a few changes and a recompile.

Windows phone is probably going to be based off an embedded windows base, and not contain everything the full version does. Its also likely to be customised to some extent per phone company. You certainly arn't going to get 'desktop' - which is for MS office only on windows RT anyhow, and it obviously won't be as full featured.

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"in theory windows desktop applications may work with a few changes and a recompile" - Steven Sinofsky said that there would be (next to) no malware on WinRT since the platform was locked down and only carefully vetted Store Apps would be allowed. For all we know, they have a whitelist baked in regarding exactly which OOTB MS desktop apps will run, and 3rd party apps even when ported won't run at all. Anyway, guess we need to wait and watch... –  Karan Oct 27 '12 at 23:56
    
Its a business decision rather than a technical one - most of the reviews of RT show a system that is practically identical to the desktop versions. I wonder if its the same with cli applications. They might simply end up using smartscreen and disabling the ability for the end user to approve applications –  Journeyman Geek Oct 28 '12 at 0:02
    
Of course it's a business decision. Apple started all this walled garded nonsense, and now MS wants a share of the pie too. Every store app that gets approved gives them a cut. It's not as if they suddenly decided to do this to do this to block malware and help end users. –  Karan Oct 28 '12 at 0:12

We will know more details on WP8 later today, but we do know a few things.

First: Windows RT is Windows 8 compiled to run on ARM based processors.
Second: Windows 8 and WP8 have a "shared core."
Third: WP8 and Windows RT both run on ARM.
Fourth: The all share the same design language.

So we know Microsoft has pushed the same design language to help unify the differing platform in look and feel, but does that mean that they are the same? No, but, I have a feeling that it will comparable to an Froyo vs ICS. Up to a point they share certain APIs in common (the "shared core") but after that Windows RT is going to have lots more API for developers to work with.

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