Microsoft Details Windows on ARM, Desktop Apps Support

Want to know more about the upcoming version of Windows 8 that will run on ARM's architecture? That's great, because on Thursday Microsoft went into great detail thanks to a very lengthy post by Steven Sinofsky, president of Microsoft's Windows and Windows Live Division.

In his blog, Sinofsky reassures consumers that they will receive the same out-of-the-box experience as their x86/64-based comrades. He also said desktolp Office applications like Word, Excel, OneNote and PowerPoint will be available. Even more, Metro-style apps listed on the Windows Store will work on both x86/64 and ARM environments.

"Developers wishing to target WOA do so by writing applications for the WinRT (Windows APIs for building Metro style apps) using the new Visual Studio 11 tools in a variety of languages, including C#/VB/XAML and Jscript/ HTML5," he said. "Native code targeting WinRT is also supported using C and C++, which can be targeted across architectures and distributed through the Windows Store."

But Sinofsky makes it clear that Windows on ARM does not support running, emulating, or porting existing x86/64 desktop apps. Instead, code that uses only system or OS services from WinRT can be used within an app and distributed through the Windows Store for both WOA and x86/64. Customers will obtain all software, including device drivers, through the Windows Store and Microsoft Update, or Windows Update.

In regards to the Office apps, Sinofsky said that they're full-fledged desktop versions "significantly architected" for both touch and minimized power/resource consumption. He even makes it clear that Windows on ARM supports the desktop experience, offering the same tools like File Explorer, Internet Explorer 10 for the desktop, and "most other intrinsic Windows desktop features."

Sinofsky also shoots down any hope for enthusiasts wanting to build their own ARM-based Windows 8 rig the honest way. "Windows on ARM software will not be sold or distributed independent of a new WOA PC, just as you would expect from a consumer electronics device that relies on unique and integrated pairings of hardware and software," he said. "Over the useful lifetime of the PC, the provided software will be serviced and improved."

"Building WOA has been an ongoing engineering effort involving Microsoft, ARM licensees, PC makers, and developers of components and peripherals," he added. "These efforts spanned a wide array of subsystems that have been newly created or substantially re-architected for WOA. Partners will provide WOA PCs as integrated, end-to-end products that include hardware, firmware, and Windows on ARM software."

The update goes on to talk about actually bringing Windows 8 to the ARM environment, spanning topics like booting the core of Windows, loading devices and busses, bringing the system to the desktop and the Start screen, connecting device services and more. To get the full scoop, check out Sinofsky's lengthy blog here. You might want to get a snack first -- it's a long and interesting read.

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  • classzero
    If I get a windows 8 tablet I will choose a more expensive x86 completely compatible tablet. I have no interest in a arm desktop.
    13
  • Other Comments
  • classzero
    If I get a windows 8 tablet I will choose a more expensive x86 completely compatible tablet. I have no interest in a arm desktop.
    13
  • rantoc
    ClasszeroIf I get a windows 8 tablet I will choose a more expensive x86 completely compatible tablet. I have no interest in a arm desktop.


    Indeed, whats the point of getting a crippled experience when most windows software wont work...
    9
  • _TuxUser_
    If I would get a ms-windows 8 tablet, I will choose one that I can reflash with a proper operating system instead.
    -1