Windows RT 8.1 Update 3 won't be a major release, but will reportedly add the Start menu

The next Windows RT 8.1 update is just around the corner, along with the release of Windows 10, but already reports are detailing what we can expect to see in Update 3. According to WinBeta sources, the next release for Windows RT won't be a major one, but Microsoft will add the Start menu.

But there's a slight difference between this Start menu and the menu arriving in Windows 10. Those rocking tablets and machines running Windows RT won't enjoy the same Start menu experience as Windows 10 owners. Microsoft will be using the older Start menu from earlier Windows 10 builds. As WinBeta reports:

"I'm told the reason they are backporting that version of the Start Menu instead of the newer menu is because the DirectUI Start Menu was built on Windows 8.1 code and is not using any new API's, whereas the Start Menu found on the Windows 10 RTM is built using XAML and is utilizing a number of new Windows 10 specific API's."

It's also believed Microsoft will not be implementing windowed-mode to Windows RT. Modern apps will still open in full-screen mode, leaving desktop apps on the main plane. Other features like Continuum and the Universal App Platform also are not expected to arrive in Update 3. So while there's nothing major that is believed to be coming to Windows RT, we're sure the new Start menu addition will be a welcomed one indeed.

The update for Windows RT is expected to be out later this year, but things can change. We'll be sure to let you all know once it goes live.

Source: WinBeta

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds is Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him over on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.

171 Comments
  • Still something.
  • so how many really bought RT ? 100 ?
  • Me. >_
  • I did, it does everything I could want on a tablet
  • I love mine.
  • I did as well. More poweful than an iPad, which is somehow quite popular. Plus the battery life is at least 3 to 4 times better on my Lumia 2520 than on a Surface Pro 3. 
  • More powerful? The list of things you can do in Windows RT is very short compared to iPad. It isn't even a contest. Overall, the iPad is much more useful since it has an actual app store. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • What the crap are you talking about..
  • He just seem to never used a single RT device, surface especially. Multi windowed interface, usb port, office out of the box, file manager, he doesn't know about that all.
  • Considering that most people use the same handful of apps over and over, that's not saying much. The Lumia 2520 is a business tablet. The iPad is for surfing and playing.
  • Still use mine everyday.  Great consumption device.
  • Seven people in my family have the original Surface RT.
  • Me
  • I bought the Surface 2 and use it daily. More so then my laptop.
  • I bought the Surface 2 when it cost only 300€. I gave it to my mom, now that I got the SP3.
  • I did, I wanted a tablet, not a laptop replacement (she Pros are x2 the price almost). I still love my Surface 2. Like everyone else, as long as we have compatibility of new Win10 apps, we are good.
  • Based on the article, you won't have compatibility with the new Win10 apps.
  • who knows since MS is being quite vague with their plans with RTs. When Win10 was annouced a few months back, everyone including WC was saying there were won't be any updates for RTs...which caused an uproar. Here's to hoping more info continues to come in...
  • I bought it and love it
  • I have two, an RT one and a Surface 2, I would have bought more for my relatives if they were available locally.
  • I have one. Honestly works for pretty much everything I'd want to do with it.
  • We have 4 Surface RT's at home (one is a Surface 2, and the other three are Surface RT). We love them, we use them every day. I use it as a media consumption device and TeamViewer hub for remote access to my desktop PC and my sisters use them for homework and Netflix.
  • Me too, I bought a Surface RT and then purchased a Surface 2 shortly after it launched.
    One of the reasons I felt comfortable doing so, was because Microsoft spears to be doubling down on RT and I purchased these items for not only what they could do, but for their potential.
  • Microsoft is killing RT! What do you mean doubling down? Did you forget the /s? Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • 4 Surface 2s have been acquired due to my recommendations. I find your sarcasm unneeded and lame.
  • I have a Surface 2, use it every day for several hours.   for consumption, for writing a lot of things, for doing research, reading blogs, pdfs and ebooks. use it for surfing the web without having to use the dumb mobile versions from the websites...use it for watching movies and series by connecting it to my tv through the mini-hdmi-connection. doesn't matter if netflix or streaming from sites...no possible way of getting a virus...using all of my harddrives (network and usb 3.0) for my work and research, but also all of my usb devices. use it for scanning (connect the scanner through the usb port...ready to go) or commecting it to my dslr (again...usb)... all in all: i love my surface 2 and hope to use it for as long as possible.... even though I would switch to a w10 device someday (surface 4?), I will miss being safe when doing stuff on my surface...   an incredible device... I sure hope we willget the universal apps...  
  • Device is great, indeed. Me and several people bought them after my recommendations, and now MS wants to repeat that trick with WP7 -> WP8. I remember that "you will get the experience of WP8 on your legacy WP7 devices". I still cant explain my mom what happened to her Lumia 710 so she cant use Skype anymore. If they do same to RT, I swear, many people that I know will loose faith and say "hey MS, go get the experience of my money instead of my actual money, I'm switching to apple, bye"
  • Never tried to eat it but still using it every day.
  • still i was hoping for edge and an api update so we could use the universal apps. the way it is now us early adopters of the surface/2 will not be able to profit from the new system at all. i get why they abandon the arm surfaces still it is disappointing. i would have loved to get a few more years of use out of my surface2 but i want to play around with new apps and it is obvious there wont be any of those coming to this now officially dead system.   alternatively i had hoped we get the option to install wp10 ... even if it is optimized for 8" devices. at least this way we would get to use the new appstore.
  • Ya, the new appstore would've been neat.
  • I have 2 rt and Surface 2 and they're awesome ...well for everything else I got my laptop
  • They really should prioritize W10 Mobile development.
  • I think they have a separate team for mobile, however I understand why they are more focusing on the Win10 release/RT Update as they have a release date which is very soon, so they will be making sure everything is ready and up to scratch for the consumers. Win10Mobile is still without a official deadline so I guess it makes sense to finish one thing before devoting most of their attention on Mobile. Ik what u mean thou :)
  • @unknownguns not exactly, it is one collective unit per say. However it's more efficient to get projects with least amount of code hours released first before solely focusing on a major release for another platform. Plus mobile is almost completely based of the desktop o/s now.
  • Give it a few weeks. That being said, the latest update runs great on my 640, so I'm pretty happy with how it's progressing.
  • I think it's terrible, I understand it's an alpha release but still, there is no way I could use it everyday. There is so much missing from 8.1, hopefully they polish it up soon.
  • I use it every day. I love it. Nothing is missing, it just has the occasional random reboot and battery drain is crazy
  • It is absolutely, positively terrible on an 810 and 521. It literally takes 30 seconds to a full minute to open basic apps like the store on the 521. And yes, I've done a full reinstall from scratch on them. Its waaaay laggier than the laggiest Androids I've ever used, and one handed usage is now worse than Android.
  • The latest release is pretty great, I use it on my daily driver. Lumia icon.
  • I just had to reset my phone because it wouldn't download any apps.
  • The lack of the UAP in Update 3 is really going to be a bummer for a lot of people.
  • Yep. If they can implement this in ARM based smartphones, it shouldn't be that difficult to implement in ARM based tablets.
  • Yes exactly. I have a surface RT and I was just waiting for the support for the new store and Universal apps. Really the start screen is the most useless thing they could add to win RT... Stupid me of buying a first generation MS product. Never again. They are simply the worse when dealing with the only people that actually believe in their products.
  • I keep getting played on 1st gen Microsoft anything, butforsome reason keep going back
  • Can't wait to see the first Windows 10 Mobile ports for these RT Tablets!
  • Maybe XDA guys are working with it.
  • Nah. Security needs to be bypassed, and there's just no interest.
  • Welcomed..? Pfft, not really tbh.
    I'd prefer having Windows 10 Mobile as the update instead.
  • Different things
  • Windows 10 is coming on July 29, download that.
  • Oops they deleted the comment I was replying to
  • Guessing you're talking about updating RT to win10? I don't think its possible. Or Microsoft would have said it was. Its why they said that RT wont be compatible with the Windows 10. Maybe its bcus of the different hardware(?) but I highly doubt its possible.
  • I bet there will be a rom of Windows 10 mobile and people will try to install it on rt devices
  • I was hoping for support of the new version of universal apps ... Uh well, at least we are not losing the desktop like previous rumors indicated
  • Another Microsoft product I have bought that is being dragged to an way to early finish line.
  • You shoulda waited. I loved my rt but the new surface 3 and surface 3 pros eliminate the need for an RT tablet. It was a failed experiment.
  • That's a cop out. They have to stop bailing on everything. It would have been fine if those that wanted a laptop replacement and not a tablet, had just STFU and bought a Pro. Those idiots didn't understand the difference and their non stop crying about stuff that was apparently out of their pay grade, was the only real problem. If I want a top end sports car, I don't compare a Corvette and an Impala and bitch that the Impala is underpowered and should be discontinued because it can't keep up with Porshes and Ferraris.
  • You really think that RT failed because of bad press? Even as a tablet the people's complaint was lack of apps.  If RT was as good as people made it out to be, it wouldn't have been such a massive disaster.
  • You're right, it was due to the lack of apps which is still the issue today for S3 & SP3. Without proper modern apps the tablet experience on SP3 is far from IOS and Android, even worse with Windows 10 tablet mode. No signs of this getting better either.
  • Telling someone in hindsight to wait several years for the third generation of a product is not particularly helpful advice.. The 'experiment' failed based on the fact that Microsoft just couldn't attract companies and developers to make apps for Windows 8. The system itself was very good, but it relied on a quickly growing and high-quality selection of metro apps to sustain it.
    I feel next to nobody has bought a Surface Pro 1-3 or Surface 3 because they wanted to use Windows apps. There aren't really any worthy of note that are better than what Android and iOS has to offer.
  • Lucky... I loved that version of the Start Menu...
  • It's dead, Jim.
  • Glad I upgraded to Surface 3. Though I don't understand how hard would it be to implement UAP since it will be on smartphones
  • It seems hard to develop for a multitude of arm devices. It's why you see MS phones using only a few types of processors in the phone sphere. It's not like x86 where all the processors are essentially supported. Another example is looking at the raspberry pi 2 having win 10 support, but no other devices, even if they use the same arm v7 architectures.
  • In my opinion, I think Microsoft can do anything they want if they *really* want to. They don't want to support their customers that bought their RT products. End of story.
  • The price for being an early adopter of Microsoft hardware, I suppose.
  • Sounds just like Windows Phone 7.8. You get the new Start experience... And nothing else.
  • Yeah and how many people would know the difference between this and full win 10? I'm talking regular user's here.
  • Except you're not even getting the new Start experience here. Ask they're adding is the *old* Start menu, which means that from the desktop, it's going to be even harder to get back to the Start screen where ask your live tiles reside. For me, the biggest disappointment is no universal apps. Which effectively means that even for apps that are available on RT, we won't see much more in the way of updates, since I imagine that most developers will start converting to universal apps (if they haven't already), resulting in an accelerated demise of these otherwise very capable devices. (I can't believe I'm getting all emotional, hearing distant echoes of the original Surface "click" advertisements).
  • You know, with all this buzz about the Windows 10 UAP, I'm not sure what's so special about it actually. This isn't Microsoft's first foray into universal apps. In fact, they've already done it quite succesfully in the past. My high school graduation project back in 2011 was all about Microsoft's "Universal App Platform". Of course back then it wasn't called UAP, it was called XNA and to a more limited extent, Silverlight. For my project, I demonstrated a single app as well as a single game, both built on XNA, running universally across the PC, Xbox 360, Zune HD, and Windows Phone 7. Basically all of Microsoft's major platforms at the time. Little to no modifications were required between devices. Silverlight, while not as prevelant across platforms as XNA was, also worked well across platforms. I just don't understand why Microsoft abandoned these platforms instead of building on them.   Windows Phone 7 could've easily lived on longer, even after the 7.8 update, if Microsoft had continued the Silverlight or XNA platforms and made them the basis of the new UAP. That would mean Windows Phone 7 apps would be universal.
  • Because Silverlight = C# + managed code = dev division, all the other crap Windows and Office divisions = C++ mafia.
  • Yeah... Very similar.
  • Windows phone 7 situation all over!
  • Sold my Surface 2 about 6 months ago. Seller's remorse? Now dropped to 0%
  • So instead of giving us something usefull like W10 App compatibility they rather repead the whole WP 7.8 fiasco again. Who cares about the fucking start menu if you can't run new apps.
  • Except this time I learned. I'm done buying Windows Phone, Windows tablets-- all of it. I've been burned one too many times by Microsoft abandonware, and I no longer feel comfortable recommending Windows devices to others who used to come to me for it. They just keep screwing over and ignoring the (few remaining) people who actually still supported them. Now I understand why people are looking to Apple and Google for their computing needs.
  • Ok, so Surface RT released October 2012 and receiving an update later this year - call that approx 3 years of software upgrades iPad 1 released April 2010 and stopped at iOS 5 last updated May 2012 - 2 years 1 month. Go ride that Apple train into bankruptcy and take your misplaced hate with you.
  • iPad 2 - March 2011. iOS 9 will be released in fall of 2015 and will run on the iPad 2 - with an optimized build for that device no less. 4 years seven months if the normal October release date continues. That's a real release that actually keeps the machine's API support up to date. Not too shabby!
  • Yeah, and more people bought the iPad 2 than all Windows tablets combined so it will actually be put to use! Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Why bother.  The Start Menu would be low on a priority list for RT users.  If there is one thing they should add it would be the Universal App Platform.  If they can't do that in the current state of RT, they should be working to get Windows 10 Mobile onto RT devices.
  • this. a windows tablet without any programms is useless (no .exe and no new apps) also the old ones wont be updated etc...  
  • RT was a good plan, but it didn't work because it wasn't released on Windows 10 era. with universal apps and all. But there was no benefit in price and performace compared to intel. at least RT users are getting something but this OS should be forgotten and just move on. it doesn't even have many reasons so just like WP7.8 this should be ok, but it's nothing but a small update that doesn't compare to the real thing
  • I'm always a little fuzzy on what is firmware vs software specific and how that works with carriers. Does anybody have any insight into how this will be handled with the Nokia Lumia 2520 tablets that are on Verizon? Is this an example of something Verizon could or will sit on and not release, or is this something that bypasses carrier approval?
  • Sad thing. Win 10 can run on ARM CPU so it should be possible to install it on Surface 1,2. But if they do that, you will hear again that tech reporters are so confused with it, because it can not run x86 applicaiton. It looks like it's easier to pretend that win10 can not run on ARM tablet then to put some sense into tech reporters. Maybe, one day, when reporters get used to the idea that Win10 ARM phone can run universal application but can not run x86 application and that there is nothing confusing about it, M$ will be brave enough to give Win10 love to ARM tablets...
  •   no universal apps, or no windows 10 mobile apps = dead i though the surface 2 would be useful :(  
  • If the Start menu is the only thing they want to add I don't understand why they even bother to do an update. At this point they could let users decide if they want to stay on 8.1 with the current features (but with a dead OS) or if they want to update to W10 Mobile losing some functionality (desktop, full Office, multiuser, etcetera). I wonder if they can opt for this solution if they receive enough feedback. If the rumor is true, which I fear, there's no point in staying silent hoping for an update that includes Universal Apps.
  • What Microsoft should do is issue all Windows RT tablets the same Windows 10 mobile OS used on Windows 10 smart phones. The only diference would be they would not get a phone dialing system to make calls but could used all the Windows 10 mobile Apps including the new Windows apps AKA "Universal Apps. in this case The Rt Tablets would be unable to run their old apps but will run all Windows 10 phones apps. The Windows RT OS was a bad choice anyway. All Windows RT tablets and Windows smart phones use ARM's CPU's there fore from the very beginnig all Microsoft ARM's CPU devices should have used the Windows 8 smart phone OS except the ARM's CPU Tablets wound not be able make phones calls.   
  • I still don't get it. Why can't they port the mobile Version of Windows 10 for the tablets? Thy have continuum for phones, so that would be the perfect solution for RT tablets.
  • Because RT failed so badly they don't want to waste any more money on it.
  • So, they think they can save a few bucks. In exchange for quite a lot of upset users we can firmly book as early adopters or MS enthusiasts. Because they cannot afford testing W10M on a Surface?! While downplaying their competition as "scrooglers"? I come to think, this company is seriously in trouble.
  • Dozens of upset users. If you don't remember, sales of RT was abysmal. The write down was even larger than the recent Windows Phone write down. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • continnuum for phones is not supported by old hardware. None of the currently existing windows phones are even getting it.