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ARM Hopes To Lure Microsoft Away From Intel 333

Posted by timothy
from the there-would-be-this-software-ecosystem dept.
Steve Kerrison writes "With the explosion of netbooks now available, the line between PC and mobile phone is becoming much less distinct. ARM, one of the biggest companies behind CPU architectures for mobile phones (and other embedded systems), sees now as an opportunity to break out of mobiles and give Intel a run for its money. HEXUS.channel quizzes Bob Morris, ARM's director of mobile computing, on how it plans to achieve such a herculean task. Right now, ARM's pushing Android as the OS that's synonymous with the mobile Internet. But it's not simply going to ignore Microsoft: 'What if Microsoft offered a full version of Windows (as opposed to Windows Mobile or Windows CE) that used the ARM, rather than X86 (Intel and AMD) instruction set? Then it would be a straight hardware fight with Intel, in which ARM hopes its low power, low price processors will have an advantage.'"
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ARM Hopes To Lure Microsoft Away From Intel

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  • ARM? x86? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Yvan256 (722131) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @06:04PM (#28889137) Homepage Journal

    You will kneel before Z80!

  • by Anonymous CowHardon (1605679) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @06:08PM (#28889179)
    Employing strongARM tactics? Better keep them at ARM's length. (Don't worry, these horrible puns are quite ARMless.)
  • by jd (1658) <imipak@yaCOLAhoo.com minus caffeine> on Thursday July 30, 2009 @06:09PM (#28889205) Homepage Journal

    But it wouldn't be a straight fight between ARM and Intel. It would be a fight between ARM, StrongARM, Asynchronous ARM (yes, there really is an asynchronous CPU based on the ARM core), and every other ARM variant out there.

    • You say this as if it would be a bad thing?

      As long as the instruction sets are compatible in such a way that I can take all my programs from platform A and move it to platform Q, how can we not be the winners in this competition?

    • by MrMista_B (891430)

      Not to mention AMD.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 30, 2009 @06:10PM (#28889221)

    Mac users have had to endure 2 processor family changes and finally had to settle for the same one the PC uses. Could you imagine the irony if the PC switched to ARM and the Mac was left using the "outdated" x86 architecture?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by CarpetShark (865376)

      Apple would probably be quite happy to start over on a new arch with Windows. Competing head-to-head on a new platform would be a big catch-up compared to their current position of limited drivers.

    • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @06:41PM (#28889657) Journal
      Apple already ships a huge number of OS X machines with ARM chips, they just brand them as iPhones and iPod Touches. OS X makes it easy to add another architecture for fat binaries and most OS X apps have already been ported from PowerPC to x86 so have no CPU dependencies; porting them to ARM would be relatively easy. That said, since Apple bought PA Semi, I wouldn't be entirely surprised if they released a PowerPC chip that competed in the same area as ARM.
  • by jmorris42 (1458) * <`jmorris' `at' `beau.org'> on Thursday July 30, 2009 @06:12PM (#28889235)

    Windows on ARM would be as pointless as every other port Microsoft has tried and eventually killed off. And for the same reason, lack of applications.

    Microsoft itself has never bothered porting any of their consumer apps such as Office. Remember DEC having to use FX!32 to get Office running via emulation at a fraction of native speed... leading customers to fail to see the advantage of the Alpha. Now we are to expect the hundreds of large and small shops making the Windows apps people associate with "Windows" to all port to a platform where there are no suitable developer workstations available and Windows development tools lack much in the way of cross compiler support.

    Compare to Linux on ARM where pretty much the entire Debian/Ubuntu collection is up and running and Adobe has ported the one key closed piece, Flash Player.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      > Remember DEC having to use FX!32 to get Office running via emulation at a fraction of native speed

      I'm assuming by fraction you mean somewhere between .9 and 1.1. Yes, if you had some ancient, assed-out Multia running at 166MHz you weren't
      going to be happy compared to a then-smoking 450MHz P3. However, at the same time Intel was stuck around 450MHz, Digital was cranking their
      processors to much higher clock speeds.

      P.S. Word and Excel had native AXP ports. You were stuck using FX!32 to run Outlook, bu

      • by BUL2294 (1081735)

        I'm assuming by fraction you mean somewhere between .9 and 1.1. Yes, if you had some ancient, assed-out Multia running at 166MHz you weren't going to be happy compared to a then-smoking 450MHz P3. However, at the same time Intel was stuck around 450MHz, Digital was cranking their processors to much higher clock speeds.

        Except the example you use is of a more powerful server or workstation-class behemoth trying to run x86 desktop/notebook class software. That's doable and probably quite useful. But here, we'

    • by Giometrix (932993)

      Windows on ARM would be as pointless as every other port Microsoft has tried and eventually killed off. And for the same reason, lack of applications.

      Microsoft itself has never bothered porting any of their consumer apps such as Office. Remember DEC having to use FX!32 to get Office running via emulation at a fraction of native speed... leading customers to fail to see the advantage of the Alpha. Now we are to expect the hundreds of large and small shops making the Windows apps people associate with "Windows" to all port to a platform where there are no suitable developer workstations available and Windows development tools lack much in the way of cross compiler support.

      Compare to Linux on ARM where pretty much the entire Debian/Ubuntu collection is up and running and Adobe has ported the one key closed piece, Flash Player.

      With .NET getting more popular, maybe now (or at least the near future) this will be less of an issue?

      • by jmorris42 (1458) * <`jmorris' `at' `beau.org'> on Thursday July 30, 2009 @07:37PM (#28890329)

        > With .NET getting more popular, maybe now (or at least the near future) this will be less of an issue?

        I'm old enough to remember when people said these silly things about Java. No it won't help much. As someone else in this topic has already noted most non-trivial .net apps use native .dlls to make up for the performance problem with .net. Just like Java did. Then there is the problem that while Microsoft has spent oddles optimizing the compiler and virtual machine to perform fairly well on x86 it is doubtful much effort will be expended on ARM. Again Java is the reference model except Sun did make Sparc a first class Java platform along with x86.

        But finally there is the bigger question, just how many application domains are even suitable for .net? Anyone expecting games (not counting little cellphone suitable stuff) to EVER be released as managed code will grow old and die waiting. Tier one applications will also be unlikely to forego the performance advantages of native code. Adobe won't be releasing Creative Suite on .net. And don't expect Microsoft to eat their own dogfood anytime soon with IE or Office.

        And since I'm posting a followup anyway I forgot one other point in my assertion that few 3rd party ISVs would bother with ARM. Windows is mostly a platform for commercial applications and shareware. This means they expect to have people actually pay money for applications, usually a pretty nice price. What market segment is ARM netbooks targeting? $300 will likely be the high water mark this Xmas, never to be seen again as by Xmas '10 the ever lowering price tags will have moved down again. How many copies of Creative Suite would Adobe expect to sell? Even Intuit would probably be dubious as to how many units of Quickbooks they would move to such price sensitive customers.

        Note, I believe the ARM advantage is more than price but doubt the market will realize that anytime soon and produce my dream machine. I want a replacement for my Thinkpad X31. Something with a 12" widescreen with at least 1280x720 resolution, 2 GB ram, 32 or 64GB of SSD and with the ARM enough staying power to run all day (12+ hours at least) while still being lighter than the X31.

    • That's the really nice thing on Linux. You can recompile nearly all of your 13745 applications (current Gentoo Portage app count) for ARM, and do everything you want. Firefox, Amarok, VLC, OpenOffice, you name it...

  • by alvinrod (889928) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @06:13PM (#28889273)
    Don't even bother trying to make a deal with the devil. The rotting corpses of the scores of companies screwed over through their dealings with Microsoft line the landscape of the past decades tech industry. Instead, make them come to you and don't make any deals with them either. If ARM based netbooks start becoming a huge commodity, Microsoft is going to have to port a version of Windows to run on ARM processors or they'll end up missing out on sales.

    It would probably make a great deal of sense for Microsoft to work on this as well as it would most certainly help out their ailing phone technologies as well. They'd probably rather that ARM-based netbooks not take off in the market, but if they were to do so, Microsoft wouldn't be able to ignore them. I wouldn't bother making any plans with them at this point; they'd only find some way to fuck you over.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dhavleak (912889)

      Do you mean, like they fucked Intel over on IA32/IA64?
      Or the way they fucked Alpha over (when NT used to run on that arch.)?

      Oh that's right -- they didn't!

      And for that drivel you wrote to be ranked +3 Insightful just goes to show how worthless this site has become.

      • by maugle (1369813)
        You're rebutting the statement "Microsoft has a long history of fucking companies over" by listing two companies Microsoft didn't fuck over? Bravo.

        "Don't try to talk to that kid over there. He's an asshole who just keeps kicking everyone in the nuts."
        "He's not an asshole! He hasn't kicked those two guys in the nuts yet!"
        • by dhavleak (912889)
          Apply things in context -- we're talking CPU architechtures here. How exactly do you propose that MS might fuck ARM over?
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Microsoft fucked-over IBM when they suddenly decided to develop Windows 3 as their main OS, instead of sticking with the original OS/2 agreement. For the rest of this post, I'll just quote wikipedia because it saves typing effort:

        "The majority of criticism has been for its business tactics, often described with the motto "embrace, extend and extinguish". Microsoft initially Embraces a competing standard or product, then Extends it to produce their own version which is incompatible, which in time Extin

        • by dhavleak (912889) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @09:07PM (#28891177)

          Take yourself a little less seriously for 5 minutes, and try to come up with a credible scenario in which MS can fuck ARM over. Remember for those 5 minutes that TFA refers to CPU architectures. Try to resist MS-bashing just long enough to stay on topic..

          In any case, let me address a bit of that garbage you spewed:

          1. Regarding your point about Lotus. Read here to be disabused of this myth/dogma: http://www.proudlyserving.com/archives/2005/08/dos_aint_done_t.html [proudlyserving.com] Or here if you prefer: http://slashdot.org/articles/05/08/02/2219208.shtml?tid=109&tid=1 [slashdot.org]
          2. "Vice president of Intel, Steven McGeady..." -- whatever. It's just words..
          3. You don't think Active-X was simply a plugin architecture? Why do you suppose other browsers have plugin architectures? All of them are trying to break compatibility with each other???
          4. "Microsoft put pressure on AOL to make its IM networks ** interoperable ** with competing instant messaging services, an outcome that eroded AOL's market leadership." What exactly are you complaining about here???
          5. Adobe Systems refused to let Microsoft implement built-in PDF support in Microsoft Office, citing fears of EEE." And this is proof that MS is evil? Adobe disallowed something, therefore MS is evil??
          6. "A decade after the original Netscape-related antitrust suit, the web browser company Opera Software filed an antitrust complaint against Microsoft with the European Union" Find me a 100% standards-complaint browser, I'll show you a software maker who has a right to complain. Opera and Safari do a better job than most, but nobody is 100% compliant.
          7. Spreadsheet non-conformance with ODF standards" -- ODF 1.0 and 1.1 do not support formulas. The result? All ODF spreadsheet implementations are application dependant. See here [msdn.com] for detials. Note MS's complete transparency in the implementation process.
          8. "Apple Inc., Mozilla Foundation, and Opera Software formed the Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group to create open standards. Microsoft has so far refused to join." See here [wikipedia.org]: (Chris Wilson of Microsoft was invited but did not join, citing the lack of a patent policy to ensure all specifications can be implemented on a royalty-free basis.) - What, again, was your objection?? Also note - WHATWG was formed to accelerate standards creation - not to avoid browser war incompatibilities as you claim.

          That leaves you with 2 out 10. It's still pretty damning, but it's even more damning that 8 out of 10 of your accusations have no basis. So I repeat, stop taking yourself so seriously. Try seeing past the dogma for 5 mins, so you can respond with something related to the article itself rather than this off-topic drivel.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            Talking to someone who is in love with Microsoft, is like trying to convince a girl not to marry her abusive boyfriend. Nigh-impossible. You sir are an apologist trying to defend actions that are not defensible. (Similar to how the record companies' actiosn to fix CD prices at $12 were indefensible, and eventually led to a U.S. FTC lawsuit.)

            As for ARM -

            Microsoft could screw them the same way the screwed PowerPC Mac owners. Sign an agreement to develop the software, do it for five years and gradually win

  • by fat_mike (71855) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @06:21PM (#28889389)
    The article is nothing but FUD. They base the relationship of Microsoft and Intel cooling on a comment an Intel employee made at a trade show that some Microsoft employees in the next booth overheard and said "Hey, we're listening."

    This is just another crappy article that is spread over a bazillion pages when one when would do so they can push their advertisers.

    "What if Microsoft switched to ARM?"

    "What if Count Chocula and the Cookie Monster teamed up kidnapped the Keibler Elves? What if monkey's flew out of Cowboy Neil's butt? What is Megan Fox showed up naked at my front door with Natalie Portman covered in grits?"

    Its about the same comparison.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by bryonak (836632)

      "What if Count Chocula and the Cookie Monster teamed up kidnapped the Keibler Elves? What if monkey's flew out of Cowboy Neil's butt? What is Megan Fox showed up naked at my front door with Natalie Portman covered in grits?"

      I find your thoughts intriguing and wish to subscribe to your newsletter!

  • And the only reason to use Microsoft is the huge supply of binary-only applications distributed for it.

    Which means that an ARM market gets into the same chicken/egg problem that a shift to Linux does.

    • by et764 (837202)

      It's probably a lot easier to convince application makers to port their application from Windows (x86) to Windows (ARM) than from Windows (x86) to Linux (x86). There's a pretty good chance that switching architectures for most applications just requires a recompile, like porting from x86 to amd64. It's not always that simple, but in this case you'll still have all your Win32 APIs available, whereas porting to Linux will often times mean rewriting the whole thing in GTK or QT.

      ARM processors still aren't bein

  • Someone here is ignoring one of the biggest draw of Windows. People can run *their programs* on Windows. They wont be able to do that with Windows on ARM. Then they might as well be running Chrome OS or some other variant of Linux. At least with most variants of Linux they'll have huge selection of software that runs on ARM.

  • Applications? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Phroggy (441) <slashdot3 AT phroggy DOT com> on Thursday July 30, 2009 @06:50PM (#28889777) Homepage

    When Apple switched from Motorola 680x0 to PowerPC processors in 1994, they built an emulator into the operating system to allow m68k code to run transparently on the new platform. In fact, they didn't even port the entire operating system itself; bits and pieces of it ran under emulation for years as Apple gradually finished porting it all.

    In addition, they created an easy way for applications to be compiled natively for BOTH architectures at the same time, and encouraged application developers to release fat binary [wikipedia.org] versions of their apps. This worked so well that the majority of users weren't even aware that the PowerPC was a completely new incompatible architecture, as opposed to simply a new faster version of what they'd always had.

    When Apple switched CPU architectures again, they mostly duplicated this success. Some applications and drivers aren't compatible with Rosetta (the PowerPC emulator), and it's not possible to use a plugin compiled for one processor in an application compiled for another, but Apple's own developer tools offered a simple checkbox to recompile an app as a Universal Binary, and most developers have moved away from third-party compilers.

    Microsoft does have x86 emulation technology that they bought from Connectix a few years ago, but they have no experience getting applications to work transparently across dissimilar architectures, and moving from a faster Intel CPU to a slower ARM CPU makes emulation pretty unappealing anyway. Look at what a pain in the ass it is just to get everything to work on a 64-bit version of Windows!

    Mac developers are accustomed to following Apple's spontaneous whims, because users consistently reward them with big piles of cash, but Windows developers have a lot less incentive to play ball by releasing native applications for a platform that doesn't exist yet, has no users, and seems unlikely to get users because there is no native software. If they can make the emulation work perfectly, then they might get some users, and if they have users, some developers will start porting their apps. You'll never get all of them, of course, but the ones most people use every day will probably have ARM-native versions introduced. Also, pure .Net applications should work perfectly out-of-the-box. Microsoft wouldn't use a universal binary architecture like Mac OS X; since virtually all Windows applications require an installer and you can't easily move an app from one computer to another without reinstalling it from scratch, there's no reason to do that.

    In contrast, Apple could announce a new ARM-based Mac netbook tomorrow, and a majority of developers would have native applications ready to go in six months.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by et764 (837202)

      Microsoft does have x86 emulation technology that they bought from Connectix a few years ago, but they have no experience getting applications to work transparently across dissimilar architectures, and moving from a faster Intel CPU to a slower ARM CPU makes emulation pretty unappealing anyway.

      Microsoft actually does have some experience with this. The XBox 360 is PowerPC-based, but it's able to run games from the original XBox, which was x64-based. I'm not sure, but this is quite possibly done using the very software you mentioned from Connectix.

      At any rate, if Microsoft were to release an ARM port of Windows, it'd very likely be some kind of Windows Netbook Edition, and application providers would release versions of their apps for the netbook edition. It seems like the trend is largely towards

  • NT came in Alpha and MIPS once too, you can see how well that went.

  • Vista? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Moof123 (1292134)

    If M$ can shove Vista down consumers throats (admittedly their success rate has been low), why can't folks imagine something just as preposterous on the hardware front?

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