LAS VEGAS—Microsoft Corp. said Wednesday (Jan. 5) that the next version of its Windows operating system will support ARM-based chips, confirming months of speculation that the software giant would broaden support for Windows beyond x86 platforms.
The next version of Windows—presumably to be called Windows 8—will run on ARM-based SoCs from Microsoft partners Nvidia Corp., Qualcomm Inc. and Texas Instruments Inc., as well as x86 architecture products from Intel Corp. and Advanced Micro Devices Inc., Microsoft announced at a press event on the eve of the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show (CES).
"Windows support for SoCs is an important step for Microsoft and for the industry," said Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's CEO, in his annual pre-CES keynote address Wednesday (Jan. 5). "Increasingly, people want a Windows experience on all of their devices."
Microsoft had for years resisted calls for the company to add support of ARM-based devices to Windows—though Windows CE has supported ARM devices for some time. Lack of Windows support was once seen as limiting the growth potential of netbooks and other lower cost devices that use ARM-based devices. However, the emergence of Google Inc.'s Android operating system—and its subsequent momentum—changed the equation, and likely persuaded Microsoft to act to stem Android's momentum and open the door for the company to new kinds of low cost, low power products like tablets.
On Wednesday, Microsoft executives showed demonstrations of a still-in-development form of the next Windows running on machines powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon, Nvidia's Tegra and TI's OMAP. Microsoft did not say when the next version of Windows would be available, or disclose any other features of the forthcoming operating system. The demonstrations of the next generation windows running on computers with ARM-based SoCs used the same user interface as Windows 7.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer delivers CES keynote Wednesday.
Windows support for ARM is considered a game changer that could cut into Intel's dominant position in the microprocessor market and further ratchet up the competition between Intel and ARM. But it is believes that x86 will still have a leg up running Windows, as many applications and tools have hooks into the x86 that would give Intel—as well as AMD and Via Technologies—advantages in some markets. On Wednesday, Microsoft Corporate Vice President Mike Angiulo showed demonstrations of Windows 7 running on systems with Intel's recently launched second-generation Core processors that take advantage of the graphics acceleration technology offered by those chips.
"We are entering a new era for consumers where you can use Windows anywhere you go from the small screen to the big screen," Ballmer said Wednesday.
Plus, Microsoft has a poor history of optimizing their code for the dominant, and powerful x86 platform.
Also, they've got a crappy track record of supporting platforms other than x86. Anyone remember NT on PowerPC? Back when PowerPC was new and had a lot of buzz, M$ ported NT 3.51 to to it, only to discontinue support a version or so later.
A couple things about this move that I don't understand:
1.) According to Engadget, existing Windows applications won't run on the ARM version of Windows. What good is Windows without the ability to run existing Windows applications?
2.) The ARM architecture is relatively lightweight, especially compared to the current Intel Core i3/5/7/9, and is designed to provide exceptional battery life at the expense of raw performance.
As is, Windows barely runs on the Atom series CPU's, how crappy is the performance going to be on ARM?
When Apple wrote the iOS for the iPhone/iPad, they started with the base MacOS X, but gutted everything not required for mobile use, then optimized the hell out of the code to get decent performance out of the ARM CPU.
Yet, M$ is porting a full blown desktop OS to ARM and expects good performance?
I would hope that MS understands and works with the next gen windows "codename whatever" to boot fast and be slim. ARM processors are low cost with reasonable performance,adding in a lot of OS overhead might not be the best move market wise. I look forward to the roll out with some interest, more to the point the next generation ARM devices that are spawned..
"Microsoft had for years resisted calls for the company to add support of ARM-based devices ...."
"However, the emergence of Google Inc.'s Android operating system—and its subsequent momentum—changed the equation, and likely persuaded Microsoft to act to stem Android's . "
Another reason could be that Intel,who was faithful to WinTel partnership for long time started flirting with Apple and Android OS. Also they teamed with Nokia to bring their own Meego OS in x86 Atom platform to market & directly challenge MS mobile OS.
This is big for ARM and may be for MS too. With Android throwing them off the ring they don't want to be an also ran and have put massive efforts and come up with an OS from ground up for ARM. They bungled on the internet and they almost did it in the mobile space.
This could open up a huge potential for companies writing windows based third party applications. They get their leg in the mobile market.
'Bloatedness' is caused by user expectations...eventually a platform must adopt new technologies and then it becomes bloated. Just consider how trim and secure Firefox was at a time and now I refuse to use it. Viva Android..