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Microsoft Hardware

Next Generation of Windows To Run On ARM Chip 307

Hugh Pickens writes "Sharon Chan reports in the Seattle Times that at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Microsoft showed the next generation of Windows running natively on an ARM chip design, commonly used in the mobile computing world, indicating a schism with Intel, the chip maker Microsoft has worked with closely with throughout the history of Windows and the PC. The Microsoft demonstration showed Word, PowerPoint and high definition video running on a prototype ARM chipset made by Texas Instruments, Nvidia. 'It's part of our plans for the next generation of Windows,' says Steve Sinofsky, president of Windows division. 'That's all under the hood.' According to a report in the WSJ, the long-running alliance between Microsoft and Intel is coming to a day of reckoning as sales of tablets, smartphones and televisions using rival technologies take off, pushing the two technology giants to go their separate ways. The rise of smartphones and more recently, tablets, has strained the relationship as Intel's chips haven't been able to match the low power consumption of chips based on designs licensed from ARM. Intel has also thumbed its nose at Microsoft by collaborating with Microsoft archrival Google on the Chrome OS, Google's operating system that will compete with Windows in the netbook computer market. 'I think it's a deep fracture,' says venture capitalist Jean-Louis Gassee regarding relations between Microsoft and Intel."
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Next Generation of Windows To Run On ARM Chip

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  • by Nursie ( 632944 ) on Thursday January 06, 2011 @09:09AM (#34775192)

    What about the huge catalogue of win32 applications?

    If I was to believe the anti-linux trolling of the last decade or so, that's the major reason people won't ever, ever switch!

    On a more serious note, I know .Net stuff stands a good chance of working fine, but there's a hell of a lot of windows stuff people use that isn't .Net and I can't see a translation engine or emulation working that great on ARM stuff.

  • Re:Nvidia cpu (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Thursday January 06, 2011 @09:47AM (#34775456) Homepage

    Imagine placing your mobile phone in the docking station on top of your TV and it instantly being transformed in a full-blown desktop-capable PC functionally similar to an average PC of today.

  • by raddan ( 519638 ) * on Thursday January 06, 2011 @09:50AM (#34775474)
    Microsoft might be viewing this much the way Apple views iOS: it doesn't matter. Mobile devices, especially touchscreen devices, are different enough from their hardwired brethren that people may not seek to run the original software. Add to the fact that most technology companies are seeking to push software "to the cloud" (and indeed, Microsoft already has a cloud version of Office), this may become less and less of an issue.

    I personally think that Microsoft needs to make the break to stay competitive. Continuing to support legacy software is extremely painful for both Microsoft and for their customers. I used to work for a company that was heavily invested in legacy Microsoft technologies. You know those dastardly tactics that Microsoft uses to lock you in to their product? Well, it keeps you from using new Microsoft technology as well. Loss-aversion [] may be irrational, but, well, you try arguing that you need to switch to new tech to a CTO who has sunk millions into software that requires ActiveX on IE6. That, my friends, is why IE6 is still around. But I'm mildly amused at the irony that Microsoft's own proficiency in the lock-in game is hurting them now.
  • Re:Windows on ARM (Score:3, Insightful)

    by yapplejax ( 931268 ) on Thursday January 06, 2011 @09:50AM (#34775484) Homepage
    No existing Windows app will run on it? Office, as demonstrated at CES, isn't a Windows application?
  • by AntEater ( 16627 ) on Thursday January 06, 2011 @10:16AM (#34775726) Homepage

    Everyone seems to rambling on about x86 compatability and running existing Windows applications on the ARM cpu. I see this more as an admission from MS that the desktop environment is stagnant and growth will be found in the market for dedicated devices (phones, tablets, netbooks etc). I don't see that this will be about desktops at all. I see this more like Apple does with iOS and OS X. Same code base but one runs on portable devices and the other is for their desktop machines. I have not real insight but I don't see where ARM desktop machines make any sense.

    Anyone remember when Windows NT ran on x86, PPC, MIPS and alpha? It was amazing how much better it ran on the Alpha hardware than any x86 machines. Maybe it'll be a step forward for them - not that I really care.

  • Re:Windows on ARM (Score:4, Insightful)

    by aztracker1 ( 702135 ) on Thursday January 06, 2011 @10:38AM (#34775946) Homepage
    If it's a compatible API then it is *windows* on ARM... is Firefox running under Debian for ARM not Firefox? or Linux? Surprise, you can't run your Linux binary blob compiled for x86 on ARM... same goes for Windows.. that doesn't make it suddenly less Windows... it does mean there will be fewer apps available out of the box. Though most cross-platform efforts for .Net based applications will probably run fine at or very near launch.
  • Re:Windows on ARM (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 0123456 ( 636235 ) on Thursday January 06, 2011 @10:43AM (#34776020)

    Surprise, you can't run your Linux binary blob compiled for x86 on ARM... same goes for Windows..

    Except all those Linux applications are recompiled for ARM by the distro developers, whereas every single Windows application has to be recompiled by its own developers, and then you have to buy it again.

    If you can't run your old Windows applications on this new 'Windows', why would you buy it? Joe Sixpack is going to buy a 'Windows' ARM machine, take it home, and then wonder why his old Word CD won't install.

  • Schism? Fracture? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rickb928 ( 945187 ) on Thursday January 06, 2011 @10:54AM (#34776158) Homepage Journal

    What? Microsoft just made the smartest decision in their corporate lifetime. Well, third-smartest, and critical to their survival.

    x86 is not the only architecture out there. Itanium is a market failure, RISC is relegated to the memory of us modem-wielding veterans, is there another chip line out there I forgot? If so, irrelevant.

    Windows on ARM means:

    - Potential NT kernel on phones. Hey, the NT kernel isn't half bad. A single kernel everywhere eorks for Linux, just sayin'.

    - Opportunity for new markets like tablets and set-top/integrated TV systems. No, an Atom-powered tablet isn't ery attractive. Power demand is the issue, and ARM seems to be the king of power demand.

    - A huge developer base that may not have to learn Java or Cocoa or Objective-C after all to be rlevant in our mobile- social- oriented world.

    I mean, Microsoft winning sounds evil, but we should know by now that competition is good. Apple may have to answer this, and the Linux/Android community hasn't changed their value proposition one iota. In fact, consider the appeal of buying a phone and THEN choosing the OS you want - 'WindowsARM', Android, 'OpenIOS'... Or perhaps a hypervisor and VMs running any of the three?

    I like it. 2GHz dual-core DX10 phones with 2GB RAM and a uSD slot for another 128G, 4.5" AMOLED screens and 1080p HDMI out? All I need now is to find a table at the Starbucks with the Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, and the 21" display, and I'm rockin.

    I can dream, can't I?

  • by 0123456 ( 636235 ) on Thursday January 06, 2011 @11:19AM (#34776510)

    This is just sloppy programming. Let me go out on a limb and say any decent programmer wouldn't do this.

    And how many Windows programs, particularly those whose original development started a decade or more back, were completely written by 'decent programmers'?

    I've seen all of these problems in code that companies I've worked for had to make portable to 64-bit CPUs and other-endian CPUs.

  • All or nothing? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by joeyblades ( 785896 ) on Thursday January 06, 2011 @11:58AM (#34777122)
    Why would we assume that Microsoft and Intel would part company? ARM out-performs Intel in terms of power consumption, but Intel out-performs ARM in terms of processing power. While it seems that Intel may wind up with a smaller portion of pie, the need for desktop computers will continue for a long time. I don't think we will be seeing these competing options "pushing the two technology giants to go their separate ways" in the near future.
  • Re:Nvidia cpu (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday January 06, 2011 @05:13PM (#34782780) Journal

    I think you are missing the point, and why this could really be a threat: Think "persistent user experience". imagine your average guy, we'll call him Bob. Bob gets up, gets ready for work, and before he walks out the door he pops his Win 8 tablet out of the cradle where it has not only charged but loaded the data he was working on and maybe even the morning paper as well if they don't have wifi on the train.

    Bob gets to work and he either sets the tablet in a cradle or uses Bluetooth and the data he was working on is beamed into the apps he is used to like Word, Excel, Access, etc. If he works on the floor he simply inputs his data into the familiar Windows apps and when he walks by the bosses desk on the way out it is all shot into the bosses PC all nice and neat. Bob will also be able to stream movies and shows to/from his desktop at home thanks to the deals MSFT is making [] with content providers. Bob goes home and it all syncs up with no tweaking from Bob, and he plops on the couch and can surf and control everything from his Wintab.

    If this was 5 years ago I'd be right there laughing with you, but with Windows 7 and how nicely it networks and plays with other devices like the x360 it seems MSFT is finally starting to get persistent user experience. The user must NEVER have to fiddle with layers of submenus or pages of checkboxes, which has always been MSFT's big weakness in the past. They seem to finally get KISS and do the setup work FOR the user, which means if they have everything just plug into each other, such as MSFT cloud into WinPhone into WinTablet into WinDesktop? They already have the desktop and a good chunk of the living room with the X360. They manage to tie the rest into that then yeah, this thing could sell.

    If it is one thing we should have learned over the years is that MSFT always starts lame, but then they learn and get better if they choose to stay in the market. Just look at the Xbox. Who would have thought they would ever beat Sony in the console wars? I sure as hell didn't. I would say this is the one advantage they have over Apple and Google in this arena, because MSFT can tie it all together nicely with the OS everybody already uses and the X360 which is in millions of homes. Of course never underestimate the ability of MSFT to do something stupid ala the Kin, but to count them out without even seeing the product is more than a little premature.

"Tell the truth and run." -- Yugoslav proverb