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Windows 8 on ARM Will Require Deeper Integration

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 24 comments

Windows 8 on a tablet may take more work than Windows 8 on a PC.

While Windows 8 will still find itself home in x86 and x64 desktops and laptops, it will be a major foray into the ARM-based device space. ARM chips are what power nearly all of today's major smartphones and tablets, and that's an area that Microsoft wants Windows to invade.

Windows 8 will most certainly be there, but it'll require a bit more effort on the part system designers.

"Windows 8 running on ARM will ultimately be available with ARM-based hardware that  you can purchase," said Windows president Steven Sinofsky. "ARM requires a deeper level of integrated engineering between hardware and software, as each ARM device is unique, and Windows allows this uniqueness to shine through."

Regarding developer tools, Sinfosky added, "The new development tools enable you to start today to build Metro style applications that will seamlessly run on x86 (32 and 64 bit) or ARM architectures. Even if you use native C/C++ code, these tools will enable Metro style apps to target specific hardware if you choose.  As new PCs become available for testing, PC manufacturers will develop seed programs for developers."

Impressively, everything Microsoft is showcasing at Build will also run on ARM-based Windows 8 systems. Microsoft appears to be making a big effort in delivering a cohesive Windows 8 experience regardless of platform.

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  • 7 Hide
    JeanLuc , September 14, 2011 4:31 PM
    It's good to see Microsoft is taking ARM seriously as a Brit its good to see the UK making waves in the computer industry the likes of which we haven't done since the days of the Sinclair Spectrum and BBC Acron (the company where ARM was originally created.

    Is there any news on how Microsoft is going to get around the compatibility issues concerning x86 software running on the ARM instruction set?
  • 6 Hide
    dalethepcman , September 14, 2011 5:22 PM
    I wonder how many people will actually make their iFad's useful and install windows 8 on them. iFad in its current form is to computers, what the Wii was to consoles. A gimmick that the masses bought, played with, then reverted to using their pc's and phones. Hopefully Windows 8 will actually show people what a tablet computer should do.

    *spoiler* (it's supposed to do more then make fart sounds, and play iTunes)
  • -5 Hide
    bmouring , September 14, 2011 5:23 PM
    This is just another talking point to bump the fact that MS is finally going to support ARM as a proper platform (not with some bastardized version of CE). The same exact thing could be said for the litany of x86 variations that exist, they simply aimed at the lowest common denominator of the platform simply to ensure that it would run on any of them (even if at atrociously slow speed)
  • -9 Hide
    southernshark , September 14, 2011 5:48 PM
    what's an x64 desktop or laptop???

  • 1 Hide
    Saljen , September 14, 2011 5:54 PM
    Does this mean it will be difficult to port to my newly acquired $99 HP Touchpad?!
  • -4 Hide
    molo9000 , September 14, 2011 6:46 PM
    dalethepcmanI wonder how many people will actually make their iFad's useful and install windows 8 on them. iFad in its current form is to computers, what the Wii was to consoles. A gimmick that the masses bought, played with, then reverted to using their pc's and phones. Hopefully Windows 8 will actually show people what a tablet computer should do.*spoiler* (it's supposed to do more then make fart sounds, and play iTunes)


    Desktop software on a 10" touchscreen is completely useless.
    Tablets need purpose made software.
  • 3 Hide
    blader15sk8 , September 14, 2011 7:25 PM
    southernsharkwhat's an x64 desktop or laptop???


    64-bit.

    x86 is 32-bit.
  • 4 Hide
    jimsocks , September 14, 2011 7:28 PM
    i just want something portable with 2 usb ports so i can offload pictures from my camera to an external hd. why can't manufacturers make something useful?!
  • 2 Hide
    eddieroolz , September 14, 2011 7:55 PM
    It sure is going to be a lot of work. There's the whole issue of x86-64 codes running on ARM and vice versa.
  • 5 Hide
    lordstormdragon , September 14, 2011 8:17 PM
    jimsocksi just want something portable with 2 usb ports so i can offload pictures from my camera to an external hd. why can't manufacturers make something useful?!


    You just want a laptop or a netbook, then? Nobody's stopping you my friend!
  • 0 Hide
    LordConrad , September 14, 2011 9:33 PM
    jimsocksi just want something portable with 2 usb ports so i can offload pictures from my camera to an external hd. why can't manufacturers make something useful?!

    Get the Toshiba Thrive. USB, SD card, HDMI ports are full size. It's a little thicker and heavier than other tablets, but it's also more versatile.
  • -1 Hide
    schmich , September 14, 2011 10:12 PM
    blader15sk864-bit.x86 is 32-bit.

    He's just teasing because 64 bit is also x86. So it should technically x86-32bit or x86-64bit.
  • 0 Hide
    jimsocks , September 15, 2011 2:53 AM
    LordConradGet the Toshiba Thrive. USB, SD card, HDMI ports are full size. It's a little thicker and heavier than other tablets, but it's also more versatile.

    that thrive actually looks pretty sexy
  • 0 Hide
    outlw6669 , September 15, 2011 8:50 AM
    You know what would love to see released with Windows 8?
    Standard x86 processors with integrated ARM cores.

    Think about it; with simple tasks like web browzing and word processing you could shut off the x86 portions and save a ton of power.
    When you need a little more processing power, or you are working with non ARM optimized applications, power up the x86 cores and gate off the ARM section.

    Especially with mobile computing, on the fly switching between x86 and ARM cores could conceivably extend battery life quite a bit.
  • 0 Hide
    martel80 , September 15, 2011 10:50 AM
    "Even if you use native C/C++ code, these tools will enable Metro style apps to target specific hardware if you choose."

    Why couldn't the compiler produce a single executable containing code for BOTH (that Windows 8 would choose from depending whether it runs on ARM or x86)?
  • -2 Hide
    digiex , September 15, 2011 11:43 AM
    Will ARM processors run crysis?
  • 0 Hide
    ojas , September 15, 2011 12:32 PM
    martel80"Even if you use native C/C++ code, these tools will enable Metro style apps to target specific hardware if you choose."Why couldn't the compiler produce a single executable containing code for BOTH (that Windows 8 would choose from depending whether it runs on ARM or x86)?


    Must be the way in which the code functions at the hardware level. Windows 8 probably will be able to differentiate where it's being installed, but to do that on individual programs would make them pretty big and complicated to code. At least, that's my understanding.
  • 2 Hide
    ojas , September 15, 2011 12:33 PM
    digiexWill ARM processors run crysis?


    Why do they have to at all?
  • 3 Hide
    willard , September 15, 2011 1:45 PM
    martel80Why couldn't the compiler produce a single executable containing code for BOTH (that Windows 8 would choose from depending whether it runs on ARM or x86)?

    Do you really want every executable on your computer to be twice as big? Because that's what you're asking for. I think it's a much better solution for the user to just download the appropriate file. It's not like it's hard.

    As a side note, I'm shocked at the consistent lack of knowledge about technical areas like these on Toms Hardware. No, Microsoft doesn't need to make the x86 instruction set run on ARM.

    What they're doing is putting an ARM compiler on the x86 platform. Then all you have to do is click the ARM entry under target platform, and bam, you just ported your software over to ARM. Somehow making ARM understand x86 instructions, or writing a wrapper to translate the opcodes is about the worst possible way I could think to solve this problem.
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