During Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Nvidia said that it's working directly with Microsoft to distribute Windows on ARM desktop PCs powered by the 4-Plus-1 architecture of the Tegra 3 SoC. These PCs, part of a seeding program, will be for software developers and device manufacturers so they can create "a rich ecosystem" of apps and devices for Windows on ARM-based processors.
"Nvidia has a long record of supporting software developers working on the cutting edge of innovation,” said Tony Tamasi, senior vice president of content and technology at Nvidia. "We’re furthering this tradition by helping to realize the extraordinary potential of Windows on ARM processors, like Tegra 3."
Still, the mention of a Tegra 3-based PC offers an indication that Tegra 3 4G LTE-capable desktops and notebooks may be available when Windows On ARM supposedly ships later this year. Nvidia didn't mention tablets in its announcement on Wednesday, but unnamed sources say Microsoft has a stock of Tegra 3 developer tablets already on-hand.
In addition to Nvidia, Qualcomm said that it too has joined Microsoft's Windows On ARM developer seeding plan, and is providing Snapdragon-based test PCs to select developers so they can test and optimize apps for forthcoming Snapdragon-powered Windows on ARM PCs and tablets. Yes, you read that right.
"This invitation-only program will combine a pre-release version of Windows on ARM with next-generation, high performance Snapdragon S4 test PCs," Qualcomm said on Wednesday. "These test PCs are not representative of commercial form factors or the final Windows on ARM experience; they are designed to give developers early access to building and testing Windows Metro style apps on Qualcomm's latest technology."
The Snapdragon S4 test PCs will have built-in 4G LTE technology which will be activated in some regions, the company added.
The Windows on ARM developer seeding program, according to Qualcomm, will help ensure that Windows Metro style apps available in the Windows Store "work great on all Windows 8-based PCs, including those with Qualcomm's ARM-compliant Snapdragon processors."
The news seemingly puts to rest previous rumors indicating that Windows On ARM would be delayed. Microsoft said it was aiming to release the new OS alongside the x86 and x64 versions of Windows 8, but a lack of non-restricted demonstrations and a uncertainty amongst several manufacturers led to speculation that Windows On ARM wouldn't arrive until early next year. Still, a delay would be understandable given that Microsoft was working outside the comfortable x86/x64 realm.
Are the days of the big rigs finally coming to a close? Will all the powerful hardware be pushed off into the cloud, allowing these smaller desktops and tablets to merely act as receivers?