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Microsoft Details Windows on ARM, Desktop Apps Support

By - Source: Microsoft | B 27 comments

Windows 8 on ARM will support desktop Office apps in addition to desktop tools like File Explorer, Internet Explorer 10 and more.

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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Top Comments
  • 13 Hide
    classzero , February 10, 2012 3:50 PM
    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.
Other Comments
  • 13 Hide
    classzero , February 10, 2012 3:50 PM
    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.
  • 9 Hide
    rantoc , February 10, 2012 4:06 PM
    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...
  • Display all 27 comments.
  • -1 Hide
    _TuxUser_ , February 10, 2012 4:12 PM
    If I would get a ms-windows 8 tablet, I will choose one that I can reflash with a proper operating system instead.
  • 2 Hide
    ProDigit10 , February 10, 2012 4:15 PM
    too bad.
    Also too bad that it'll be much harder to upgrade ARM computer hardware than on a standard pc.

    it's just another way to get windows pushed in smaller devices,but if you look at how MS office creates HTMLs you know enough already!
    Their software packs are always over-coded, too much data running too slow, and taxing processors needlessly,for feats you'll never notice,or never need!
  • 8 Hide
    molo9000 , February 10, 2012 4:27 PM
    _tuxuser_If I would get a ms-windows 8 tablet, I will choose one that I can reflash with a proper operating system instead.

    Nope. ARM-devices with Windows 8 have to have UEFI SecureBoot enabled at all times, which prevents you from booting anything that is not digitally signed by Microsoft.

    Microsoft allows secureboot to be disabled on x86 systems, but that's still makes installing Linux more difficult for potential new Linux-users.
  • 3 Hide
    _TuxUser_ , February 10, 2012 4:50 PM
    molo9000Nope. ARM-devices with Windows 8 have to have UEFI SecureBoot enabled at all times, which prevents you from booting anything that is not digitally signed by Microsoft./citation]

    Yes, I read that earlier, which will mean I never will get a arm based ms-windows device.

    molo9000Microsoft allows secureboot to be disabled on x86 systems, but that's still makes installing Linux more difficult for potential new Linux-users.


    What makes the UEFI laughable, it don't give any higher security, it just makes it easier for MS to force people to upgrade, it's just to see to that the hardware manufacturers (they will forget the disable feature with some help from MS Wallet), then revoking the certificate that allowed you to run ms-windows 8 and force you to upgrade to ms-windows 9 if you want to be able to use the computer/device. The funny thing is that what UEFI was meant to prevent has no problem to run and make havoc in ms-windows 8, but the whole UEFI isn't about make things more secure for the enduser, just keep them buying your products, no matter if they want or not.
  • 6 Hide
    universalremonster , February 10, 2012 4:53 PM
    Quote:
    Indeed, whats the point of getting a crippled experience when most windows software wont work...


    Because some people want simple tablet functions/apps to read, watch movies, surf the net while traveling and don't want to pay the premium of buying a full blown desktop OS tablet. I personally would opt for the Intel version myself, but I can see where the ARM alternative has its place for people that more or less want a traditional tablet without having to fork out the dough for an iPad.
  • 0 Hide
    dimar , February 10, 2012 5:07 PM
    Looks like it's gonna be a failed product. Could it be that MS is trying to get rid of x86 in the far future and take complete 100% control over hardware/software?
  • 1 Hide
    CaedenV , February 10, 2012 5:19 PM
    no black-box ARM support? That's highly disappointing! There was a part of me hoping to build a cute little arm 'server/nas' that just had a windows share folder on it. I guess it is back to the 'ol P4 idea for me!
  • 3 Hide
    math1337 , February 10, 2012 8:06 PM
    Things you can't do in WOA:
    background processes, polling loops, timers, system hooks, startup programs, registry changes, kernel mode code, admin rights, unsigned drivers, add-ins, and a host of other common techniques.

    For some reason, I think these are useful features...
  • 2 Hide
    irh_1974 , February 10, 2012 8:12 PM
    dimarLooks like it's gonna be a failed product. Could it be that MS is trying to get rid of x86 in the far future and take complete 100% control over hardware/software?

    Apple already does on their products, why not?
    ...
    Personally I will be waiting for good x86 hardware in a tablet form then get myself Win 8 x86
  • -5 Hide
    sonofliberty08 , February 10, 2012 8:50 PM
    all major software should develop on arm version by now so we can get rid of the old fashion x86 soon
  • 2 Hide
    molo9000 , February 10, 2012 10:49 PM
    irh_1974Apple already does on their products, why not?...Personally I will be waiting for good x86 hardware in a tablet form then get myself Win 8 x86


    Apple does control the iPhone and iPad software but the Macs are still "open". You can install any software you like on Mac OS X and install any operating system on a Mac.

    If Microsoft attempts to gain complete control over all the software you can install on your desktop/laptop, then they are going to get into serious trouble with anti trust agencies.
    I wonder how the secureboot thing on x86 will turn out.
  • 0 Hide
    __-_-_-__ , February 10, 2012 11:49 PM
    not all arm devices work with windows 8. it's not like you can put windows 8 on a arm smartphone. only some specific arm soc's are compatible. not even raspberry pi is compatible.
  • -2 Hide
    erunion , February 11, 2012 1:00 AM
    My opinion of ARM Windows just went from neutral to negative. Looks like ULV x86 chips are the last best hope for some decent Windows 8 tablets. (Personally, I'm excited for ivy bridge(maybe trinity?) Windows 8 slates)
  • -1 Hide
    irish_adam , February 11, 2012 2:32 AM
    sonofliberty08all major software should develop on arm version by now so we can get rid of the old fashion x86 soon


    Wow really? yes your right ARM is definitely the better architecture >_>

    its not like if you put an ARM chip against an Intel or even AMD chip at the same clock speed it would obliterated or anything
  • 0 Hide
    tomfreak , February 11, 2012 4:19 AM
    windows ARM will only sucess if they manage to build a decent emulator to emulate most of the x86 programs. I'll be so happy if I can play starcraft 1/quake 3/simcity 3000/Red Alert 2 on my smartphone.
  • 1 Hide
    _TuxUser_ , February 11, 2012 10:33 AM
    Tomfreakwindows ARM will only sucess if they manage to build a decent emulator to emulate most of the x86 programs. I'll be so happy if I can play starcraft 1/quake 3/simcity 3000/Red Alert 2 on my smartphone.


    You would need to use something like qemu (don't work in ms-windows), so that you can emulate the x86 CPU, so you will loose a lot of performance, as the ARM isn't made for power computing, you will notice the performance loss, things will be slow, pressing keys will have a delay and so on.
    If you are thinking of more modern applications/games, then you may have the issue that you need to emulate a 64bit processor with a 32bit one...

    Issue would be different with opensource applications, as those you could recompile (Maemo has Quake3, it runs on ARM, but of course Maemo isn't ms-windows 8, so you can install what you want), but then with ms-windows 8 you may not be allowed to install that application you recompiled for ARM, as you will most likely not have the certificate needed in the UEFI.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , February 11, 2012 5:14 PM
    You basically can't do anything with WOA. Only WinRT apps will even run on it. I personally hate managed code development as it limits you in too many ways too often. This is basically a web architecture with a little more advanced app development. People who say they don't want a full blown OS will regret that when they don't have that experience. There are dozens of things you probably do that won't be available to do on this platform.

    SO... ARM isn't 64-bit so it has little chance in the enterprise and basically WOA is a Web-style OS that basically gives you tablet functionality in the Cloud. I can buy a Google Chrome book that will likely give me most of the same features. ARM in the PC market looks like a dead end to me. No shot in the enterprise and only really a tablet/phone architecture. And to think, just a week ago people were claiming that x86 and even possibly Intel was dead. If anything, Intel may be the grand winner in all of this. If they get a decent phone spec out with their 2013 22nm ATOM processors, ARM may be left in the dust. Sheesh!
  • -1 Hide
    vt008 , February 11, 2012 10:01 PM
    once again, Micorsoft gonna screw things up. Consumers are already seems to be confused about differences between x86 and WOA devices. I think they should stick with one chip either x86 or ARM
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