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By | Iain Thomson 26th November 2012 21:49

Microsoft supporting Surface with Windows RT until 2017

Trying to make Apple and Android look bad

Microsoft has set date on the end of mainstream support for its Surface tablet running Windows RT as April 11, 2017, with Office products likely to get similar support.

This four-and-a-half-year support cycle is unusual for Redmond. Consumer releases of Windows usually get mainstream support for five years, with security updates long after, and business or developers get a full ten years. Dates for Windows RT haven't been confirmed, but may correspond to Surface's, given how tightly the two have been developed together.

In comparison to the competition, however, Microsoft's support strategy looks pretty good. Fondleslabbers who bought the original iPad are locked out of iOS 6, for example. That said, there some advantages to that, given some of the functions of Cupertino's latest build.

With Android, the situation is more fragmented still, with the majority of users stuck on older builds and a large minority still running antiquated builds such as Gingerbread. Updates to version four and above look unlikely for most hardware currently out there.

But the devil is in the details for the Surface. If Microsoft thinks it can support Surface, and by inference Windows RT, for nearly five years, with all the applications that will be developed in that time, then it suggests one of two strategies from Redmond.

Either the hardware specifications for Windows RT are advanced enough for a considerable amount of development to be carried out without outpacing the processing power of devices, or Microsoft is not planning on making many changes to the OS. One suspects the latter. ®

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