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Microsoft Confirms ARM Support for Windows

There was a ton of rumors about Microsoft’s keynote speech last night and unfortunately, not all of them were true. One that did come to fruition was that the next version of Windows (which we’re all referring to as Windows 8) will support ARM. Microsoft yesterday confirmed that the next iteration of the company's OS would support System on a Chip (SoC) architectures including ARM-based systems from NVIDIA, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments.

It’s big news, but it’s about Windows 8, so don’t expect too much in the way of juicy details. However, Microsoft sent out a press release with a Q&A with Steven Sofinsky, president of the Windows and Windows Live Division at Microsoft and we were afforded a smidge more information regarding Windows on ARM. Sofinsky says hardware accelerated media playback and hardware accelerated Web browsing are among the things users can expect from Windows on ARM. There will, of course, also be Office for ARM, just in case you were starting to get worried.

“We’re committed to making sure that Windows on SoC architectures is a rich Windows experience," Sofinksy said. "Microsoft Office is an important part of customers’ PC experience and ensuring it runs natively on ARM is a natural extension of our Windows commitment to SoC architectures."

"We are making this announcement now to allow greater collaboration across our expanded partner ecosystem so we can bring to market the widest possible set of PCs and devices, from tablets on up, with the next generation of Windows."

Microsoft talked a little about SoC and Windows for ARM last night at its keynote so if you missed the online stream, check out the video below (via VentureBeat) for the 411.

  • hellwig
    Makes sense. I'm not really sure why Microsoft was so married to x86 save for the fact that until recently there wasn't really another competitor (PowerPC maybe, but that was basically Apple's field). I'd say Intel had something to do with it, but considering Microsoft has always played nice with AMD (though AMD is pretty tied to x86 too), I'm not really sure. Either way, if the world does move to "the cloud", Microsoft needs to find some way to stay relevant.

    The problem with ARM is that there's only so much return on investment. Intel and AMD are coming out with some pretty efficient x86 processors. Sure, they aren't in a phone-size form factor, yet, but they're getting down to tablet size for sure. The fact that my ARM-based cellphone cost more than a low-end (yet fully capable) x86-based laptop tells me ARM doesn't really have much room to play with in the computer market. Intel isn't making much profit off Atom, so what's left for ARM?
    Reply
  • belardo
    This is MS becoming afraid... But its good for Nvidia as it means computer sales for a CPU-GPU setup. This may save Nvidia's rear-end.

    Not seeing Win8 running that good, but then again - in another year or two; ARM CPUs will be 2-3 times more powerful than they are today. Of course, the Win8 will be an ARM version, with x86 code stripped out and who knows what junk.

    Otherwise, Google will come from behind and strangle MS with Android.
    Reply
  • tipoo
    With Nvidia's high performance ARM core announcement, this is very exciting.. I'm thinking of a Cell like processor with one or more cores (the ARM part) that tell everything else what to do, with thousands of CUDA/cores/stream processor units doing what they are instructed. Lets face it, we all thought Huang was a bit nutty when he said x86 processors are near their demise, but with this news...I'm not so sure.
    Reply
  • blueeyesm
    It'd be interesting to see Windows on a SoC, independent of a HDD. Having the OS interact with storage that's faster than a ATA or SSD should be interesting to say the least.
    Reply
  • ryan156
    this can't be a co-incidence, Nvidia and Microcoft must have discussed this at length behind the scenes, Nvidia building desktop ARM processors to work with a newly compatible windows.
    Reply
  • ProDigit10
    became time MS started to work on this!
    Reply
  • milktea
    hope it doesn't draw too much power, SOC on mobile runs on low power unlike the desktops
    Reply
  • rhino13
    Great, more mac-like PCs who's closest feature to a game is farmville.
    Reply
  • gamerk316
    So...I think Microsoft is TICKED that Intel didn't have a processor ready for them to use for Windows Phone 7...

    Good news for NVIDIA; they just gained the ability to make a custum ARM chip, and now ARM can run Windows?
    Reply
  • Prescott_666
    ARM is 32-bits. That's plenty for the present generation of phones and tablets, but it is not enough for the next generation of netbooks let alone laptops, desktops and servers. It is at most two generations away from the end of ARM. ARM will have to somehow become 64-bit to make it for another 10 years. That's not much of a future. It's going to be 64-bits or forget it.
    Reply