LAS VEGAS--While CES has previously been a show filled with big announcements and brand new technologies, this year’s show was a little different, with more incremental advancements centered on refining devices people already own.
There are a lot of things emerging that just make existing products work better and smarter,” said analyst Jack Gold, though he noted those smaller improvements could still make a huge difference to consumer experience.
Perhaps the one big product announcement at CES 2012 was Intel’s reference design smartphone, and subsequent deal to distribute an Atom powered device in China, but whether consumers will be sold on mobile with Intel inside remains a discussion point.
“Intel can do a lot of fine tuning, they have a lot of software compiler expertise, so it will be interesting to see how well it runs,” said Gold, noting that people would take note if Android ran better on the Atom platform than it currently runs on ARM, adding, “there is a chance that will happen.”
Gold explained that responsiveness would be the real key, saying “If I can open a browser in one second instead of three seconds, people will notice that. If I can stream media at 30 FPS instead of 10 frames per second, people will notice that. If I can run applications that can open up in microseconds instead of two or three seconds, people will notice that.”
Turning the discussion to the buzz around Windows 8, Gold expressed excitement for a more “conglomerate experience” which would see the OS becoming more unified between phones, tablets and PCs.
As for Windows 8’s chances on ARM, however, Gold was not optimistic.
“Doomed is maybe too strong a word but I don’t think it’s going to be terribly successful,” he posited. Gold’s skepticism arises from the lack of backwards software compatibility on the platform and said the danger is that if the market doesn’t quickly take up Windows on ARM, Microsoft will stop spending resources on it, as has been the case with other platforms beforehand.
Meanwhile, Gold explained how graphics cores were becoming ever more critical going forward, be they on smartphones, tablets or PCs, with most browser tech today being GPU driven.
Now people are more sensitive and especially youngsters are so particular that their phones to be more and more faster with more features. So if Intel can do a fine tuning and speed up noticeably they will have a opening into this segment also.further improve the same they can stand ,supply forever.
Windows on ARM may be less than successful not through lack of compatibility but through the sheer fact that Windows is irrelevant in the modern world. I can browse the web on a phone, a tablet, a laptop, a PC, a TV - who cares what OS they are running or what CPU they use? I don't. These ancient analysts seem very out of touch.
There is room for a lot of companies in the smartphone market, global revenue is truly immense.
There is a lot of primitive, binary thinking around, all or nothing - won or lose. There is room for all.
"Gold’s skepticism arises from the lack of backwards software compatibility on the platform"
Finally, an article on the EE Times that correctly points the singular importance of this fact. Itanium failed because of it, and so did a number of other CPU platforms. AMD x64 succeeded SOLELY because of it. Will anyone bother to re-compile the bazzilions of programs for IA32/x64 to the ARM version? I seriously doubt it.
I am not sure it is necessary to re-compile bazzilions of programs for Windows 8 on ARM to be a success.
I understand that Microsoft recompiling the Office suite of applications for ARM. Perhaps that would be enough? If not what other applications would be neccessary and sufficient to allow WoA success?
I cannot say how many applications consumers are looking for in a PC. I am happy if I have Microsoft Office, or equivalent.
On the other hands, one of the main drivers in PC market is gaming. Consumers buy faster and better PC because of game. The effort game companies have to put in to build game for WoA would be another factor to affect the success of WoA, wouldn't it?
I had not seen anyone talk about the cost of Windows on ARM as of yet. Do we have any indication that WoA will be cheap or expensive? Given the price pressures and the low cost of ARM to begin with I would be curious how WoA will be positioned: low cost or not? If WoA lowers the cost of the platform AND (yes a big and) keep (or improve) the performance of the system then it will make some inroads.
Office left x86 a long time ago. Later versions of Windows have had much cleaner APIs that have allowed or forced Office applications to get their act together and get properly abstracted. Already with Win2000, Office apps were communicating internally using sockets, and that process has continued.
The port to Apple computers had a similar hygienic effect on code cleanliness, and so retargeting Office for alien technology is not the monster it once was.
I don't think that for mobile devices backward compatibility is a life or death situation like it was for the PCs. For every piece of software out there there are 100 times that many software engineers and they need to have a job, so if Windows on ARM looks attractive there will be lot of man years available to make it a success. But others have said the pricing remains critical to give it that bump.
Few days back I saw the news about the Asus tab roadmap in this article:
I think in this article I saw that Asus is planning to run Windows on ARM which they are going to release in 2012.
We will come to know how it performs soon :)
I would be surprised if the price of WoA is any different from the price of Widows today. They may have some promotions to get it started, but I would think that they would keep the prices at the same level to let the market decide the direction.
"If I can open a browser in one second instead of three seconds, people will notice that."
They will probably also notice that an Intel solution will need a bigger battery and/or give far shorter battery life.
Maybe not. Another artice in this issue had a talking head from Intel who claimed their past preference for computing power over power efficiency was simply that, a choice. That makes sense given that, in the PC market, you could only sell your CPUs for $1000 each ("Extreme" version) if it was faster than everyone elses CPU.
Now they just need to change the recipe and optimize for power consumption. Intel's foundries are at least one geometry node ahead of the ARM guys (ie TSMC). Each node increases efficiency considerably. So they ought to be able to make a better performing part at equal or even lower power.
I am not sure it's just a matter of changing their recipe and optimize for power. It ain't that simple. To do this, they have to depart from their core x86 belief, which they do not seem to want to do.
"it will be interesting to see how well it runs,” said Gold, ...people would take note if Android ran better on the Atom platform than it currently runs on ARM, adding, “there is a chance that will happen.”
What makes anyone believe that it will perform 'noticebly' better? Yes there is a 'chance' but more likely it won't be noticeable.
I think Windows is, and for some time has been, irrelevant. It's only market advantage is the stable of software and that runs only on Intel. Vendors will not rewrite anything but the most profitable apps (Adobe, MS Office) for ARM because it costs too much and is more a rewrite than a recompile. Look how long it took vendors to support iA64 (64 bit Windows). That was a trivial change compared to Intel vs Arm.
What about all the XP apps that failed to run in Vista and then Windows 7? Some people never left XP. Others bailed on Windows completely. But those who remained, those running Windows 7, about 1/3 the PC market, by self selection are not so attached to legacy code.