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ARM-Supported Windows Appearing at CES 2011?

By - Source: Wall Street Journal | B 14 comments

Microsoft may be showcasing Windows 8 at CES 2011, revealing support for low-power, ARM-based devices.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Microsoft is working on a new version of Windows that targets low-power devices using chip designs from UK-based ARM Holdings PLC while also supporting x86 chip technology provided by Intel and AMD.

According to the Journal, Microsoft has been working on the project for quite some time. The new OS is expected to be revealed at CES 2011 next month, however the software isn't slated to be ready for public consumption for another two years. Based on previous reports, the mystery Windows build may actually be Windows 8—also supposedly hitting the market in two years--rather than a separate tablet-oriented build.

Why could it be Windows 8? One source cited by the Wall Street Journal said that Microsoft was working to make Windows more "modular," allowing pieces of the OS that are unnecessary for smaller, low-power devices (tablets, smartphones) to be stripped away, making it more suitable and less bulky. As the Journal points out, this would make Windows similar to Apple's Mac OS X and its lightweight, watered-down offspring for the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch, Apple iOS.

Currently Microsoft hasn't officially confirmed Windows 8, nor did it comment on the news provided by the Journal. However Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer is expected to present a keynote speech at CES 2011 the night of January 5, showcasing the company's consumer technologies. Microsoft is also expected to hold a press conference that afternoon prior to Ballmer's speech. The new OS is expected to be revealed at either event.

Given that Windows 8 and the rumored ARM-oriented Windows isn't expected to appear for another two years, the notion of one, cloud-based, scalable OS makes more sense for Microsoft than developing two separate operating systems. Granted that wasn't the case with Windows 7 and Windows Phone 7, evidence suggests that Microsoft is taking cues from Apple as it spreads the Windows IP beyond the desktop and laptop.

Intel and ARM have also refused to comment on the Wall Street Journal's story.

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  • 1 Hide
    agnickolov , December 23, 2010 9:04 PM
    Confirms the saying that everything new is well forgotten old... Windows NT4 supported ARM among other platforms.
  • 3 Hide
    phate , December 23, 2010 9:34 PM
    Modular, components can be stripped out/supplied as needed, can be easily ported to other platforms and architectures... sounds eerily similar to another OS I can think of that's been around for years.
  • 1 Hide
    blackwidow_rsa , December 23, 2010 9:37 PM
    Cant stand all this cloud stuff. If you have a slow or unstable connection, booting, etc. could take ages. Sticking with W7 until MS makes a 'local' OS again
  • 2 Hide
    jeffunit , December 23, 2010 10:43 PM
    >Confirms the saying that everything new is well forgotten old... Windows NT4 supported ARM among other platforms.

    Not in this universe. Windows NT4 ran on a powerpc chip, the MIPS processor and the digital alpha chip. It never ran on the ARM processor.

    Even if Microsoft has windows running on an ARM chip, you still need the 3rd party applications to work on the ARM chip...
  • 7 Hide
    Anonymous , December 24, 2010 12:23 AM
    For the history of the PC, Intel and MS used their monopolies to prop each other up, as long as personal computing was synonymous with Windows, and Windows only supported Intel, they'd both be able to shut out their competition.

    Fast forward to 2010, ARM and their forthcoming 4 and 8 core 2ghz+ CPUs, paired with an excellent Linux OS like Android and Ubuntu, have the ability to side-step the monopoly and revolutionize good-enough mainstream PC's, with superior battery life. Microsoft just told Intel that they are on their own.
  • -1 Hide
    dEAne , December 24, 2010 12:30 AM
    Microsoft is quite careful in what is going to say about Windows 8 and ARM - It might kill Windows Phone 7 deliberately or it might be a favored product than the google WebOS.
  • 1 Hide
    mavroxur , December 24, 2010 12:53 AM
    agnickolovConfirms the saying that everything new is well forgotten old... Windows NT4 supported ARM among other platforms.


    There wasn't a version of NT4 for ARM.
  • 3 Hide
    hardcore_gamer , December 24, 2010 5:43 AM
    PC_HistorianFor the history of the PC, Intel and MS used their monopolies to prop each other up, as long as personal computing was synonymous with Windows, and Windows only supported Intel, they'd both be able to shut out their competition. Fast forward to 2010, ARM and their forthcoming 4 and 8 core 2ghz+ CPUs, paired with an excellent Linux OS like Android and Ubuntu, have the ability to side-step the monopoly and revolutionize good-enough mainstream PC's, with superior battery life. Microsoft just told Intel that they are on their own.


    two thumbs up
  • 2 Hide
    pug_s , December 24, 2010 7:21 AM
    Microsoft is not really about innovation, it is about beating (or trying to) the competition. Over the last say 10 years, they created products in response of them feeling losing market share.

    The record is mixed, but they had several successes and failures. They spent 2 billion dollars making Internet explorer by giving it away to beat out Netscape. Creating Zune to try to beat out ipods with utter failure. Did okay with the xbox then xbox 360. They created the bing portal to try to beat out google.

    Let's be honest here, when Microsoft made Windows, they have always have the one size fits all mentality. Most of the components used on some $300 netbook is the same as some $10,000 server. They only recently decided to dabble in a module OS in windows 2010 when they made windows 2010 core. But still don't have the flexability or portability as linux.
  • 0 Hide
    NeeKo , December 24, 2010 9:04 AM
    I hate this spammers so much.
  • 0 Hide
    Silmarunya , December 24, 2010 10:03 AM
    pug_sMicrosoft is not really about innovation, it is about beating (or trying to) the competition. Over the last say 10 years, they created products in response of them feeling losing market share.The record is mixed, but they had several successes and failures. They spent 2 billion dollars making Internet explorer by giving it away to beat out Netscape. Creating Zune to try to beat out ipods with utter failure. Did okay with the xbox then xbox 360. They created the bing portal to try to beat out google. Let's be honest here, when Microsoft made Windows, they have always have the one size fits all mentality. Most of the components used on some $300 netbook is the same as some $10,000 server. They only recently decided to dabble in a module OS in windows 2010 when they made windows 2010 core. But still don't have the flexability or portability as linux.


    First of all, Windows and Linux are different products. Linux is simply a kernel that can be overlaid with whatever user interface and other high level software the developer wishes. As such, you can't compare Windows (kernel + higher layers) to Linux (kernel). Comparing Windows to a specific Linux distro is far fairer of course.

    Second, Linux distros aim at a different market. A market of servers, enthousiasts and other people that require customizability. Windows users generally don't require the ability to customize everything.

    Agreed with MS being a 'me too' company though. They launched few true innovations and even fewer ever became a success. Most of their products are 'me too', which isn't a bad thing per se.


  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , December 25, 2010 4:34 AM
    If I had to bet, I wouldn't bet on the Windows desktop OS getting an ARM compatible core option.

    It's much more likely they'd announce a new mobile based OS as the OS to follow "Windows Mobile". Likely a flavor of, or based on, the Windows Phone 7 base.
  • -1 Hide
    ProDigit10 , December 25, 2010 7:47 PM
    instead of just making ARM compatible with current windows by building a fake or null pcie bridge within the processor...
  • 0 Hide
    geoffs , December 28, 2010 4:47 AM
    Even if it's true, MS has some work to do on Windows to make it suitable for tablets. First, they need to cut the power consumption, Windows uses approximately 2x the power on a given machine than Mac OS X. Second, they need to make a touch screen interface. Maybe some of the work they did on WP7 will apply, but who knows.