There is the potential for much confusion between Windows RT, the edition of Windows which runs on ARM, and Windows Runtime, also known as WinRT, the application architecture.

  • For Windows RT, we have , a tag which existed but had no questions in it until I just asked one (a number of "Windows RT" questions need tagging with it). No tag synonyms. I request that it be renamed to . (I would have used that, but because existed—in spite of having no questions—it forbade my creating .)

  • For Windows Runtime (WinRT), we have . A well used tag. No tag synonyms. I suggest that it be renamed to , with retained as a synonym. Alternately, it could remain with added as a synonym. There has already been discussion about which the tag should be, with consensus at that time (a year ago) being in favour of , but since Windows RT has come on the scene (I don't remember whether it had been announced at that time or whether it was called Windows on ARM, but I don't believe it was yet Windows RT) it might be worth re-evaluating that decision as the potential for confusion is higher. (Though too, the name "WinRT" is probably more firmly cemented as what people understand.)

Naturally, the tag wikis need to make the distinction clear.

Quite why Microsoft chose to do it this way, I don't know. But they have, so we need to make the best of it and attempt to minimise tagging problems.


3 Answers 3


I want to do horrible things to the person that decided that the name of a developer technology would be the perfect name for Windows 8 on ARM. I mean, they couldn't even have the courtesy to call it Windows 8 RT. Nope, it's just plain old RT. That means we can't force the RT-the-OS to be , as that'd be factually incorrect.

People are going to confuse the hell out of -as-a-synonym and . Especially new users and inexperienced developers. I've been nuking tag almost weekly for a few months now, as every time, the user was actually talking about Runtime-the-platform instead of RT-the-OS. Honestly, the main reason for this is that nobody had their hands on RT-the-OS because it's handed out only to OEMs. That situation changes on release day, October 26.

In an ideal world, we would blacklist , because then users would have to pick between RT-the-OS and Runtime-the-platform. It removes a great deal of the possible ambiguity. Unfortunately, blacklisting a tag is a developer-only option, and the devs have shown little interest in doing blacklists for the sake of reducing ambiguity.

A month later, we're finally starting to see questions that are actually about RT-the-OS instead of Runtime-the-platform. Argh, tag ambiguity irritates me so!

This morning, someone found six questions that were actually worthy of the tag . This means that they were actually about the OS in specific and not about Windows 8 or the Runtime. While the tag clearly needs to exist now, I continue to be very worried about the ambiguity of MS's imposed naming scheme. I still feel that should be unsynonymized and blacklisted.

  • Yeah, I'm wondering what's going to happen to Windows RT with the next major version after Windows 8. What, Windows RT 2? Unless they're trying to imply that Windows 8 will be the last major iteration of Windows, which is highly unlikely. Commented Oct 25, 2012 at 16:21
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    Well, "RT"++ is "RU". Windows, are you?
    – Charles
    Commented Oct 25, 2012 at 16:33
  • That is clever. Commented Oct 25, 2012 at 16:34
  • So, now that there are actually questions about RT-the-OS, why continue to nuke the tag? Using winrt or windows-runtime for those questions doesn't make any sense. Removing windows-rt tag seems to add to ambiguity since that would be the correct tag. Commented Nov 19, 2012 at 18:10
  • @DennisPalmer, because people are horrible at tagging and windows-rt is a honeypot of incorrectness. Unless you're volunteering to single-handedly police the tag, that is.
    – Charles
    Commented Nov 19, 2012 at 18:13
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    These are the same people who named metro/modernui/windows store ui Commented Nov 19, 2012 at 23:38

We need one tag that means "new object-oriented API for Metro apps", and one that means "restricted line of Windows for ARM tablets". I would mostly go with the suggestions of the opener.

For the API, we can use windows-runtime or winrt. The current tag is windows-runtime, but winrt has much more hits on google, and seems more natural. I would pick winrt as default, but don't care as long as both are there and synonyms.

For the OS, we can use windows-rt, or windows-arm. It doesn't matter if Windows RT is just an edition of Windows 8 (and thus the next version would be Windows 9 RT), or if it is considered a separate line like 9x, NT, ... (with the next version being Windows RT 9). Maybe the RT versions aren't supposed to have numbers at all in the future, because the customer isn't supposed to think about versions. Honestly, I believe not even Microsoft knows where they are going there, but it doesn't matter. We should just use windows-rt for questions regarding the peculiarities of this restricted windows-on-arm, and think about windows-8-rt later when the need arises to differentiate it from, say, windows-9-rt.

Regarding the confusion of Windows RT and WinRT, it doesn't help if we just leave out the tag for Windows RT. Instead, we should just continuously add tags where missing or wrong, and have helpful Wiki texts. If someone makes a mistake, we can just correct it. After all, people are supposed to learn something here :-)

  • Are you volunteering to monitor windows-rt and retag the vast majority of questions that incorrectly use it instead of windows-runtime?
    – Charles
    Commented Nov 19, 2012 at 19:16
  • No, only if I come along such a question. (There are a ton of mistagged questions probably for most tags, that doesn't mean we shouldn't use them.)
    – jdm
    Commented Nov 19, 2012 at 19:26
  • Unfortunately because of the high-visibility of windows-runtime, it's expected that the vast majority of questions tagged windows-rt are not actually going to be about Windows RT. Do you actually have a solution for this problem?
    – Charles
    Commented Nov 19, 2012 at 19:55
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    I don't think it is a problem. If you are concerned about it, we could call the Windows RT tag windows-8-rt, windows-on-arm, windows-rt-edition, .... We could also make the first sentence in the tag tooltip something like "This is the operating system Windows RT, not the API called WinRT". Besides that, I think there is not much we can do about it.
    – jdm
    Commented Nov 19, 2012 at 20:34
  • None of those tag names are appropriate, as they are all wrong; tag wiki excerpts (the bit on the tooltip) are infrequently read and do not present an adequate defense against people with no tagging skill.
    – Charles
    Commented Nov 19, 2012 at 21:15
  • @Charles: Why is windows-on-arm wrong? Cumbersome maybe, but it reflects the intended meaning. The tag doesn't have to be a 1 to 1 mapping of the product name, especially if the name's braindead (I think we can all agree on that...). A few years ago, we might have had dotnet and dotnet-initiative or ole and ole-automation. Maybe we'd do web-language if there were any questions for the ancient "WEB" language.
    – jdm
    Commented Nov 20, 2012 at 17:32
  • I still believe we need something; as a stopgap, we could use surface-rt or microsoft-surface, since that's currently the only device this OS runs on. Of course, it's not really the correct solution.
    – jdm
    Commented Nov 20, 2012 at 17:34

You are quoting SO tags, that's a problem. It is a programmer's site and there's only one api for Windows store apps. The actual hardware it runs on is not a consideration. More to the point, if there actually is a specific problem with store apps on Windows RT then any such programmer should know about it.

Splitting these tags only makes sense on a site that deals with operating system or hardware specific questions. Like superuser.com

  • 5
    I think you may have confused their meaning. "Windows RT" is the operating system, running on ARM. Thus it's very important. Something which will run on Windows 8 x86 or x64 may not run on Windows RT. They have different problems. "WinRT" is the runtime which is indeed shared between the different platforms and will more commonly be what is discussed. But still: Windows RT is very definitely relevant to Stack Overflow. And the two things are completely different beasts and must not be confused. Commented Oct 25, 2012 at 1:31
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    Creating a program that runs on Windows RT is done using the exact same api, WinRT, and the exact same source code. Only a recompile is needed. If there are "problems" then those have not been identified yet, mostly because you can't buy those machines yet. I like to know about them and want SO to use my existing tag history to figure out that it should push questions about it to top of my personalized front page. Commented Oct 25, 2012 at 8:18
  • "Only a recompile is needed." That is... exceedingly optimistic. Putting WinRT the API in a question tag means that the question is about WinRT the API in some way. Therefore, it may be a problem that happens on WindowsRT the OS, or it may not. Putting WindowsRT in a tag means that the issue is specific to the OS, but it may have nothing to do with WinRT the API because that may not be involved in the problem. They're completely orthogonal (though obviously we need actual WindowsRT machines to start tagging with it). Commented Oct 25, 2012 at 8:31
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    I didn't spent the past year studying WinRT to buy into this kind of FUD. Make it solid by saying what other kind of magic incantation is required. Commented Oct 25, 2012 at 8:39

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