LONDON There have been rumors for a while now that Microsoft engineers in Redmond, Washington, have been demonstrating the Windows XP operating system running on chips with ARM processing cores inside.
Officially Big Windows does not run on ARM processor cores. And this provides a clear advantage to Intel with its Atom processor and a disadvantage to ARM when it comes to the netbook computer market. ARM and its semiconductor partners are, apparently, restricted to pitching ARM-based processors and SOCs to companies trying to make netbooks that run the Linux operating system.
But now Warren East, president and CEO of ARM Holdings plc (Cambridge, England) has been dropping hints about Microsoft Windows and ARM while concluding that he, of course, could not possibly comment.
And of course netbook design work being done now is aimed at delivery in 2010 and 2011, by which time there is expected to be a battle between Windows, Linux and Google Android. Windows 7 had already shipped in beta versions to developers and is expected to be formally released later this year. And the launch of Windows 7 might make a convenient point for Microsoft to announce support for ARM processors. But obviously Intel might be trying to pressure Microsoft to delay such an announcement for as long as possible.
At present the "Release Candidate of Windows 7 does not mention ARM processors as part of the systems requirements, which remain restricted to Intel processors. But Microsoft does say in its press release "Windows 7 will work on a broader array of hardware than any other release of Windows at launch."
And to quote East from an analysts conference call held to discuss ARM first quarter financial results, "Microsoft will continue to play an important part in this [netbook] space. If there was Windows support for the ARM processor today clearly it would be a very different marketplace."
East concluded: "Perhaps there will be support in future but that's really for Microsoft to comment on and not for us to comment on, I'm afraid."
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