Surface, Surface 2 to get Start tweak next month

Microsoft has revealed small tidbits about next month's update to the defunct Windows RT tablet operating system, saying that an enhanced Start menu will be part of the deal.

Microsoft has revealed small tidbits about what next month's update to the defunct Windows RT tablet operating system will include, saying that an enhanced Start menu will be part of the deal.

"If you're running Windows RT, your device won't upgrade to Windows 10," Microsoft stated in a revised entry in its FAQ on the new OS. "We will have an update available in September 2015 that will improve the Start menu and lock screen." reported on the changed FAQ Sunday.

Microsoft said near the beginning of 2015 that Windows RT-powered devices -- most of them its own Surface RT of 2012 and the next year's follow-up Surface 2 -- would not have an upgrade path to Windows 10. Instead, the Redmond, Wash. company said it would deliver an unspecified update in the future. The most detailed it got at the time was to say that the Windows RT update would have "some of the functionality of Windows 10."

The changes to the Start menu and lock screen will presumably meet the "some functionality" requirement.

This summer, Microsoft pegged September for the update's release. But the firm has remained close-mouthed about whether the Start menu and lock screen changes will be the extent of the new features, or even if that update will be the final for Windows RT.

Previously, Microsoft pledged to support the Surface RT hardware -- now renamed as simply "Surface" -- until April 2017 and the Surface 2 for one year longer, but promised to maintain the Windows RT OS for considerably longer: Until 2023 with security patches, as long as tablet owners have upgraded to Windows RT 8.1.

The last time Microsoft refreshed Windows RT on the Surface or Surface 2 was March and April, respectively.

It's certainly possible, perhaps even likely, that Microsoft will prune support for Windows RT, as the OS is a dead end to the company, which has put its shoulder entirely behind Windows 10. And what were once solid support dates have been a lot more malleable of late: A year ago, for example, Microsoft bailed on support for Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) and other versions of its browser when it told customers that in most cases they had to be running IE11 by January 2016 or be barred from security updates.

Also today, Microsoft confirmed that the "universal apps" it has touted for the new operating system will not run on Windows RT or Windows RT 8.1. "Surface RT only runs apps built for RT and not Universal Windows Apps," a Microsoft spokeswoman said in an email reply to questions. "There are many apps that work on RT, so customers will able to continue to enjoy apps, games, music and movies content."

The confirmation was entirely expected, as Microsoft never said Windows RT would be able to run Windows 10's universal apps, and more importantly, dumped the former OS for its latest low-end tablet, the 2015 Surface 3, which runs Windows 8.1.

But those who did commit to Windows RT, which Microsoft aggressively promoted three years ago, have to be unhappy: If they want on the Windows 10 train, they will have to ditch their devices and buy anew.

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