Microsoft delivers promised Update 3 for Windows RT 8.1

Microsoft quietly made available a promised third update to Windows RT 8.1 tablets and PCs, which delivers a small subset of Windows 10 functionality, rather than the whole Windows 10 operating system.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft has made available its third update for its Windows RT operating system for tablets and PCs running ARM.On September 15,

Microsoft quietly rolled out Windows RT 8.1 Update 3, also known as KB3033055. That optional update, once applied, allows users to change some settings so that a new Start Menu -- one that looks something like the Windows 10 one but which isn't actually identical -- is displayed from the Start Button.

Windows RT is the operating system that powers Microsoft's Surface, Surface 2 and Nokia Lumia 2520 tablets, among other third-party ARM-based PCs and tablets.

Pure InfoTech has detailed instructions on how to enable the new Start Menu.

Microsoft officials confirmed earlier this year that they had no plans to update ARM-based Windows devices running Windows RT to Windows 10. Instead, they committed to delivering a subset of Windows 10 features, which they never officially disclosed. They said they would make this subset available in the form of a third update to Windows RT some time in September.

I asked Microsoft officials late last night about Update 3, as I was looking to see if there were any other Windows 10 features included in yesterday's KB update. No word back so far. But I did download KB3033055 on my Surface RT device and did get the new Start Menu.

Here's the KB article outlining the features in the update. The new Start Menu allows users to pin and unpin apps; rearrange apps on the Start Menu grid; and show (or hide) their most frequently used apps, like the Windows 10 Start Menu. Update 3 also now presents user account pictures in circular frames in some areas of the operating system, as well as an updated lock screen.

Despite the fact that the unified Windows 10 Store includes apps built for ARM-based Windows Phones and as-yet-unannounced small ARM-based tablets running Windows 10 Mobile, Windows RT users cannot run new and updated Universal Windows apps -- even after applying Update 3. Universal Windows apps are meant to run on any Microsoft platform with a Windows 10 core, and so that leaves out Windows RT, Microsoft officials have said.

In other Windows update news, Microsoft made available a firmware update to Surface Pro 3 users on September 15. (No models other than the Surface Pro 3 got a firmware update yesterday.) The update provides a USB 3.0 Card Reader driver update (v10.0.10240.31217), which Microsoft says improves the system power usage when an SD card is inserted

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