Windows 8 on ARM Heading To Devs Soon, Claims Sources

An unnamed source has confirmed to CNET that Windows 8 is now stable on ARM's architecture, and will be seeded to developers sometime soon. The source claims to have had up-close-and-personal hands-on time with a high profile device from a major PC maker, and that it's not only stable, but quite impressive in its performance. Even more, the device will be cosmetically identical to the Intel version but cost significantly less.

"The bigger implication is, with [Intel-based] ultrabooks you're popularizing the idea that you have this thinner design that turns on faster, that lasts longer [battery life]--but then you have Windows 8 on ARM that's built at a price point that's much lower," the source said. "And does all of those things too. This is setting up the ultrabook to head right into the teeth of their [ARM] competitor."

So far Microsoft hasn't confirmed an actual developer release date for Windows 8 on ARM. However, a separate unnamed developer believes that studios should expect Windows 8 on ARM to land in their hands sometime in February. This assumption is based on information provided by Microsoft's own hardware partners.

"In October of last year, [Windows 8 on ARM] scared the industry because it was unstable," the second source told CNET. "But what we are seeing now is quite stable. We haven't heard this directly from Microsoft, but we've heard this from the hardware partners that [Microsoft] is working with. We've been promised something in the February time frame."

Windows for ARM is reportedly running stable on chips supplied by at least two of the world's biggest SoC suppliers on the market including Qualcomm, Nvidia and Texas Instruments.

Windows 8 has been slated as the most significant Microsoft operating system upgrade since the release of Windows 3.0. That's a bold statement, but not quite so far off the mark: Microsoft will have an OS running on not only x86-based solutions from Intel and AMD, but on chips based on ARM's architecture which is the most widely used chip design in the world.

That said, Microsoft isn't going to rush Windows 8 on ARM out the door so that it launches next to Windows 8 on x86. Yet that doesn't mean Microsoft is planning a staggered approach to their releases, either. One of CNET's two sources claims that so far it looks as though Microsoft will release the ARM-based version shortly after Windows 8 for x86 lands on retail shelves this fall.

On the software front, most of the Metro apps Microsoft has demoed will be available for the platform which will mainly be HTML5-based. One of the sources wasn't sure that third-party applications were even up and running on the ARM-based OS -- maybe because developers don't have a stable platform to work with just yet?

"That's one of the snags that Microsoft is trying to work through," the source claims. "You want to come out with a fairly robust library of applications."

Both sources in CNET's report believe this is one of the major factors behind Microsoft's controlled, cautious demonstration of Windows on ARM thus far.

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  • srgess
    This will be the begening of the end of the x86 age.
  • saturnus
    Indeed it is. Why spend more money on both the hardware and OS to get something that for the ordinary user won't show any performance difference expect for shorter battery time on the more expensive hardware.
  • wydileie
    I've been waiting for a long time to see RISC chips overtake the Intel x86 design. To this day I don't understand how x86 even became the standard.

    I really think AMD should jump off the x86 bandwagon where they have been wholly outclassed (by money and resources, not by lack of ability) and hop onto the RISC train that is barreling through the computing industry. If they took what they learned making their x86 APUs and focused on RISC chips, they should easily be able to compete with nVidia and their Tegra platform. That is where the future of computing is, small devices with the graphical ability of today and battery life that can last all day. Once the OLED screen manufacturing starts getting ramped up, combined with an ARM chip, a laptop's battery life could skyrocket to 24 hours or more.

    We are so close to another technology boom. With the plethora of companies developing competing ARM processors, the market is wide open, unlike x86, and we all know competition drives innovation.