Does the death of Windows RT cast a shadow on Windows 10? Read more: Follow us: @digitaltrends on Twitter | digitaltrendsftw on FacebookThe recent introduction of Windows 10 Technical Preview has made many pundits wonder about the future of Microsoft’s Windows RT, an inexpensive, low-power version of Windows 8 designed to run on the ARM processors often used to power tablets and smartphones. Much of the speculation is that Windows RT is dead. Then again, was it ever really alive?

Nobody was ever enthusiastic about Windows RT. Microsoft promised, negotiated, bribed, and cajoled, but still the response to RT was poor, at best. The financial loses, especially Microsoft’s, were immense (and still climbing). Within a year or so of its 2012 release a list of PC manufactures including Asus, Dell, Samsung, and Lenovo gave up trying to sell RT devices.

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Surfaces, Miixes, Venues… with the second wave of Windows 8 tablets well under way, the sheer number of choices can be overwhelming. Here’s what you need to know before you buy.

Before Windows 8, Windows tablets were uncommon, clunky, and frustrating to use without a stylus. But here in 2014, well into the second round of Windows 8.x slates, the field has become much healthier, ranging from compact 8-inch models (such as Lenovo’s Miix 2 8) up to 11 inchers (such as Dell’s Venue 11 Pro), with even bigger screens available in detachable Windows laptop/tablet hybrids like HP’s Spectre 13 x2.