CES: Microsoft shows Windows running on ARM

 

Full-blown Windows running on ARM processors.

Microsoft has demonstrated Windows and various Office applications running on ARM processors for the first time at CES in Las Vegas.

The shift towards the ARM architecture is part of Microsoft's plans for the next generation of Windows, Microsoft's Windows chief Steven Sinofsky confirmed, although he was very circumspect on the detail of "Windows 8".

Microsoft showed the full version of Windows running on four different systems-on-a-chip: one based on Intel Atom and three based on ARM processors, namely Qualcomm's Snapdragon, Texas Instruments' OMAP and Nvidia's Tegra.

Aside from the operating system itself, Microsoft also demonstrated adapted versions Word, Excel and PowerPoint running on ARM-based platforms, although Microsoft conceded that there's a great deal of work to be done with wider application compatibility.

"It's definitely the case that x86 programs don't run on ARM," said Sinofsky. "We'll have a lot more to say about apps and development opportunities down the road."

However, he suggested that application and device compatibility won't be a major barrier.

"We've made a native version of Word running on ARM," he boasted. "We're printing using the normal Windows architecture. It involved a small amount of work from Epsom running on a new class of driver."

Windows 8?

Sinofsky was very guarded on precise details of the next version of Windows. The demonstrations used the Windows 7 user interface, and the Microsoft executive refused to discuss release dates or version details. It's not clear whether Microsoft will develop the x86 version of Windows alongside the ARM version or as separate projects.

Sinofsky even refused to confirm whether what was being displayed was Windows 8.

"I didn't say Windows 8, I said the next generation of Windows," he replied, when asked to clarify what was being demonstrated.

System requirements

Sinofsky was keen to play down the demands Windows places on hardware, noting how modern smartphone specifications are similar to the minimum system requirements for Windows 7.

"With every new version of Windows the system requirements doubled," Sinofsky said. "A funny thing happened with Windows 7 - the system requirements dropped."

"It's a little early to talk about the system requirements for the next generation of Windows," he added, but said that the company was attempting to repeat the parsimony of Windows 7.

Potential devices

While moving to the low-power ARM architecture is clearly designed to give Windows a much needed boost in the tablet market, Sinofsky refused to be drawn on specific device plans.

"Today is when we start to kick off the dialogue with our partners who make these devices," he said.

However, he was very clear that there would be no crossover with Windows Phone 7, ruling out the use of Microsoft's new smartphone OS on tablet devices. "[Windows] Phone is uniquely focused small form factor," he said. "Small screen is Windows Phone, and these [tablet] screens are Windows."

This article originally appeared at pcpro.co.uk

Copyright © Alphr, Dennis Publishing


CES: Microsoft shows Windows running on ARM
 
 
 
Top Stories
Inside the stalemate on Australia's piracy code
Still not registered almost five months on.
 
IT staff outline deep anger in Macquarie Uni survey
‘Morale at lowest point in a decade’.
 
Cost blowout to push NBN past $41bn budget
But government funding cap to remain.
 
 
Sign up to receive iTnews email bulletins
   FOLLOW US...
Latest articles on BIT Latest Articles from BIT
Say goodbye to OneDrive Groups
Aug 28, 2015
If you've a) actually been using OneDrive and b) gone so far as to actually have been using ...
Libreoffice 5 review
Aug 24, 2015
It's free! It's open! But does LibreOffice deliver on its promise of a powerful office suite for ...
How to disable Cortana in Windows 10
Aug 21, 2015
Stop Microsoft's personal assistant snooping around.
Uni is optional: 5 tech leaders without a degree
Aug 17, 2015
Already running a business, but thinking about going back to uni? From Bill Gates to Steve Jobs, ...
New features coming to Xero
Aug 17, 2015
Use Xero? Here are some of the things you can look forward to in the coming months.
Latest Comments
Polls
New Windows 10 users, are you upgrading from...




   |   View results
Windows 8
  47%
 
Windows 7
  44%
 
Windows XP
  5%
 
Another operating system
  3%
 
Windows Vista
  2%
TOTAL VOTES: 702

Vote