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Microsoft will reportedly announced in a couple weeks a new version of Windows, which runs on ARM CPUs, like Apple's iOS. The OS will be put on new Windows tablets, geared to compete with the best-selling iPad.
Intel can't be happy with this news

While Windows Phone 7 runs happily on ARM-architecture processors, suffice it to say that no traditional version of Windows has ever run on an ARM CPU.  But according to reports, Microsoft Corp. is preparing a full fledged ARM-based Windows in an attempt to capture tablet market share.

According to 
Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal, Microsoft has reached an understanding with ARM Holdings Plc. and will announce the coming operating system at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show, likely during CEO Steve Ballmer's keynote.

The shift seems a logical one.  For mobile applications, ARM is a particularly good fit.  It features much lower power consumption and similar clock speeds versus the rival x86 architecture.  While Intel has come a long way with its low voltage x86 Atom platform, it still lags behind ARM's designs in power efficiency.

In the long run, the announcement of an ARM-based Windows could spell very bad news for Intel, and to a lesser extent smaller competitor Advanced Micro Devices. 

The irony there is that Intel used to produce ARM CPUs, but in what now looks like an unwise move, it divested itself of those holdings.  After purchasing the Digital Equipment Company (DEC), Intel continued to design and produce the company's ARM-based "StrongARM" processors for mobile devices.  In 2000 it transitioned to a newly named line of ARM CPUs called XScale.  

But in 2006 it sold its XScale mobile processor unit to Marvell.  An XScale processor is found in the Blackberry Torch, among other devices.  To this day Intel and Marvell still co-own some XScale processor lines -- but only network processors, embedded processors and their ilk.  Intel firmly passed away its rights to mobile ARM designs -- a move it likely is now beginning to regret.

Furthering Intel's troubles has been its laggard pace at pushing out improvements to its Atom platform.  Microsoft had hoped to release Windows tablets this year, but delays to Intel's Windows-compatible Oak Trail (Atom) platform dashed those hopes. 

Currently the biggest ARM CPU makers are Qualcomm Inc., Texas Instruments Inc., Marvell Technology Group, and Samsung Electronics Co.

Robert Breza, a Minneapolis-based analyst for RBC Capital Markets, estimates that an ARM-powered Windows tablet would be as cheap as the iPad and could take 10 to 20 percent of an estimated 50 million unit tablet market last year.  But he says the company has to deliver, commenting, "They've got to come back with a product that’s better than 'me too' and is equal if not better in features.  A lot of tablets today are inferior to PCs."



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TWO YEARS!!
By retnuh on 12/22/2010 11:12:21 AM , Rating: 4
How was this part glossed over?

From the WSJ:

"The company next month plans to demonstrate a new version of its widely used Windows operating system that targets low-power devices and adds support for chips based on designs from ARM Holdings PLC as well as the x86 chip technology offered by Intel and Advanced Micro Devices Inc., these people said. Microsoft will discuss the software at the Consumer Electronics Show in early January, though it isn't expected to be available for two years , they added."

So MS doing their normal thing, talk it up now and not deliver for 2 years. By then the windows phone 7 OS should be more than ready and shipping on tablets if they want in this game.




RE: TWO YEARS!!
By Tony Swash on 12/22/10, Rating: 0
RE: TWO YEARS!!
By omnicronx on 12/22/2010 1:10:27 PM , Rating: 3
Or.. this has absolutely nothing to do with their current plans, and they are planning for the future..

The age of homogeneous OS's (i.e same base platform for mobile and desktop) is upon us..

MS is hardly tossing vapourware as they still intend to release tablets based on x86.. If this were merely a ploy to delay Windows tablets in general I would tend to agree, but this more or less seems to be where MS is going, not where they are now.

Furthermore, Apple has yet to touch MS's core business with the iPad, no matter how you want to slice it, its still a consumer device. Until I see an iPad in the hands of every business man and in schools, MS and its OEM's are far from done.

FYI I'm a proud iPad owner, but I'm not going to pretend for a second that this product is feasible outside of the consumer space, especially at its pricepoint. Many businesses are already salivating over the possibilities of leveraging current in house software on touch based devices. (of course GUI redesigns will be required for many, but its not as big of a deal as many would think of it was probably coded to begin with)


RE: TWO YEARS!!
By omnicronx on 12/22/2010 1:12:41 PM , Rating: 3
*if it was probably coded to begin with*


RE: TWO YEARS!!
By omnicronx on 12/22/2010 1:16:38 PM , Rating: 2
*properly*....*facepalm*


RE: TWO YEARS!!
By Tony Swash on 12/22/2010 3:02:29 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
MS is hardly tossing vapourware as they still intend to release tablets based on x86


But the announcement was about ARM :)

quote:
Furthermore, Apple has yet to touch MS's core business with the iPad, no matter how you want to slice it, its still a consumer device. Until I see an iPad in the hands of every business man and in schools, MS and its OEM's are far from done.


Ummm.... if only we had some evidence....

http://leapfactor.posterous.com/the-lessons-learne...


RE: TWO YEARS!!
By Tony Swash on 12/22/2010 3:07:30 PM , Rating: 2
RE: TWO YEARS!!
By omnicronx on 12/22/2010 5:02:06 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
But the announcement was about ARM :)
And? Are they somehow not allowed to talk about their future roadmap? Have they made any commitments to a product being released using said technology?

quote:
Ummm.... if only we had some evidence...
Wow, one or two instances with varied success, amazing..

Consumer products like the iPad will never directly compete with business oriented devices. Why? Because there is absolutely no way that Apple can supply the demand required for such an industry at the pricepoint that is needed. Its a niche... always will be.. and they will continue to make lots of money doing it.. but a niche at that..

The OEM model has been proven in the business space, and I don't see it going anywhere anytime soon.


RE: TWO YEARS!!
By niva on 12/22/2010 2:58:39 PM , Rating: 3
Let me break it to you, it's not the iPad they're worried about. They're much more worried about Android in this market and Google as a whole in the future. MS has successfully slaughtered Apple on a long enough timescale time and time again despite some very good showings by Apple over the years.


RE: TWO YEARS!!
By Tony Swash on 12/22/2010 5:24:06 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
MS has successfully slaughtered Apple on a long enough timescale time and time again despite some very good showings by Apple over the years.


Presumably that's why Apple is bigger than Microsoft now?


RE: TWO YEARS!!
By PrezWeezy on 12/22/2010 6:06:32 PM , Rating: 2
Bigger? According to what? A few minutes in Stock Market history?


RE: TWO YEARS!!
By Tony Swash on 12/22/2010 6:48:52 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Bigger? According to what? A few minutes in Stock Market history?


Apple's revenues are bigger than Microsoft's. Soon it's profits will much larger.

At the current rate of growth (a rate Apple has not only maintained for some years now but has accelerated) in two years time Apple will be twice as large and twice as profitable as Microsoft. That's because it makes better products and Apple's strategy, and the general development of the tech market, has rendered Microsoft's monopoly advantage void.

And with without the monopoly advantage what is Microsoft?


RE: TWO YEARS!!
By Alexvrb on 12/22/2010 7:02:00 PM , Rating: 2
If MS is a monopoly in the x86 OS market, then Apple is a monopoly in the portable music device market.


RE: TWO YEARS!!
By Tony Swash on 12/22/2010 7:19:41 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
If MS is a monopoly in the x86 OS market, then Apple is a monopoly in the portable music device market.


I wasn't using monopoly as a pejorative term, merely a description.

An important difference between Microsoft and Apple is that the former relies on a monopoly, without a monopoly it would find it very diificutl to maintain the high profit rates of it's Windows/Office products and without the revenues from Windows/Office Microsoft would be dead in the water.

Apple on the other hand can compete in the market without depending on a monopoly. Apple has broken into three new markets in the last decade (music players, phones, tablets) each already populated with mature products and well established competitors. In each case Apple has been wildly successful, disrupted those existing markets with innovative new products and taken very large revenues and profits.

Apple may have achieved a near monopoly in the music player business but it does not depend on it and achieving a monopoly is not its main strategic aim in any market. It's aim is to make the best possible products, constantly improve them, and then wrap those products in the best possible service, customer support and retail experience. That's why Apple's products are so damm popular.


RE: TWO YEARS!!
By omnicronx on 12/22/2010 7:33:10 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Apple's revenues are bigger than Microsoft's. Soon it's profits will much larger.
Revenues paint a tiny piece of the picture, MS still has a much smaller operating income than Apple and by a large margin. That results is higher profits from less revenue.

You clearly seem to lack the knowledge to be making such statements, so please stop..


RE: TWO YEARS!!
By Tony Swash on 12/22/2010 8:20:13 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
Revenues paint a tiny piece of the picture, MS still has a much smaller operating income than Apple and by a large margin. That results is higher profits from less revenue.

You clearly seem to lack the knowledge to be making such statements, so please stop..


The most recent annual figures show.

Apple

Revenue $65.23 billion
Profit $14.01 billion

Microsoft

Revenue $62.484 billion
Profit $18.760 billion

Apple grew by 40% in the last year.

So in the most recent year Apple has caught up with and overtaken Microsoft in total value and total revenues. Microsoft still enjoys high margins on its core monopoly business of Windows and Office (all the rest of its business shows either marginal profitability or losses) and thus currently makes more profit on its revenues than Apple.

But for how long?

Apple's most recent quarter annualised would give a total revenue of $81.36 billion and a total profit of $17.24 billion. This coming quarter will see Apple surpass last quarters figures. The outlook for growth for Apple in 2011 is very strong indeed.

Personally I expect for Apple to be making more more profit than Microsoft by the middle of 2011. In 2012 Apple will leave Microsoft in the dust :)


A question
By aegisofrime on 12/22/2010 9:59:51 AM , Rating: 2
I have been wondering about this. In a recent Anandtech article about the CR-42, I seem to remember something about how applications written for the Chrome OS will run fine regardless of the underlying hardware platform. Is that actually possible? Will it work here as well? Will current Windows applications work on a Windows written for ARM?




RE: A question
By mforce on 12/22/2010 10:26:43 AM , Rating: 2
Current Windows apps are compiled to run on x86 CPUs. Apple had this problem when they made the switch from PowerPC to X86 and yes there are solutions like Apple had with Rosetta which is based on this en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QuickTransit
You do need some special software to translate from one instruction set to another.


RE: A question
By Flunk on 12/22/2010 10:48:57 AM , Rating: 2
Well, it is possible that .NET apps might. .NET is meant to be platform agnostic but based on the difference in interface I expect they will probably need some code changes.


RE: A question
By PsychoPif on 12/22/2010 12:42:26 PM , Rating: 2
MS would need a new Just-In-Time compiler, but I doubt developers would have to change much.

There is already a .Net framework for Windows Phone 7, which run on ARM, and you don't need any recoding to port your application from the phone to the PC. You just have limited fonctionality.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.NET_Compact_Framewor...


RE: A question
By omnicronx on 12/22/2010 1:02:38 PM , Rating: 2
.NETCF is a subset of .NET, so yes you can obviously port from phone applications to full blown desktop applications, just not the other way around.

As for JIT.. I'm not sure what you are talking about.. .NET in general heavily depends on JIT.. i.e why would they need a new JIT compiler? (in fact they already have two, standard JIT for optimized, and EconoJIT for unoptimized code with obvious speed increase)


RE: A question
By Shadowself on 12/23/2010 9:13:41 AM , Rating: 2
Apple had a version of OS X (and before that OS 8 & OS 9) running inside Apple on Intel based platforms for many years under the various code names (StarTrek was the biggest project). Apple admitted this openly when they announced "the switch" to Intel processors. The conversion to an Intel based platform from a Motorola/IBM platform (PowerPC) took several years. Not two.

And for those thinking of the Apple iOS... Apple once owned a significant fraction of Advanced RISC Machines (ARM). Apple sold of most of its stake in ARM back when they were nearly bankrupt just to stay afloat. Apple used an ARM chip in the original Newton. Apple spent many years working on variants of its operating systems for the ARM platforms. Additionally, Apple bought PA Semi to help fine tune the ARM processor for its mobile devices.

Developing for a new architecture -- even if you're basing the software on existing code -- is one hell of a lot of work.

Two years? I doubt it. Microsoft was late with XP and late with Vista (even after jettisoning many of the new core features). I find it very hard to believe they will ship a new mobile OS based on the ARM processor in two years.


RE: A question
By ekv on 12/23/2010 10:46:50 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Two years? I doubt it.
Two points: we don't know how long MS has been considering this. However, they appear to be shooting for a release in two years. Secondly, MS already has some experience developing a "mobile OS", in fact a couple: CE versions (ala "kin") and WP7. [You could almost throw min-Win in as well, and who knows what other research versions there are].


RE: A question
By DanNeely on 12/22/2010 11:04:05 AM , Rating: 2
ChromeOS "applications" are just web pages. As long as Google can get the Chrome browser to run on the hardware everything is golden.

Porting the entire windows OS to ARM is a much more ambitious endevour, but if MS can pull it off the only apps that won't be able to run after a recompile are those that have native assembly code in them. .Net apps will be easier as long as they don't call any 3rd party C++ libraries they should run without doing anything. The only other fly in the ointment would be .net apps explicitly built for x86 or x64 instead of AnyCpu. Unless something changes in the MSIL itself it should be possible to thump most of them over without effort. The problem again would be those that are x86 because they're calling 3rd party libraries that are 32bit only; most I suspect are set as x86 only because the VS2010 debugger is less capable with x64 apps.


RE: A question
By niva on 12/22/2010 2:54:51 PM , Rating: 2
Chrome OS is linux kernel underneath, so properly writetn applications can be compiled to run on any platform. The key word is properly in the previous sentence :)


RE: A question
By Spivonious on 12/23/2010 8:36:33 AM , Rating: 2
Since Chrome OS apps are written in Java, yes. Java inserts a virtual machine (JVM) between the app and the OS. This means that as long as the JVM is there (and supports the needed features), the app will run without recompiling. At compile time, the Java code is turned into Java bytecode. This is turned into machine code at runtime.

For all intents and purposes, .NET is the same way. There are technical differences, but as long as the CLR exists for the platform, the app will run without recompiling. At compile time the C#/VB/whatever is turned into CIL. This is turned into machine code at runtime.

Most Windows apps are compiled to machine code, so you can't switch the CPU type without recompiling the app. They are turned into x86/x64 code at compile time.


RE: A question
By Spivonious on 12/23/2010 8:37:39 AM , Rating: 2
D'oh, forget the ChromeOS part. I had Android OS on the brain. Chrome OS "apps" are all web pages with access to local storage. As long as ChromeOS supports the hardware, then any ChromeOS app will run.


Well this half explains microsofts tablet strategy
By DanNeely on 12/22/2010 9:46:44 AM , Rating: 2
They've still got the problem that 99% of 3rd party windows 7 applications are borderline unusable on a touch screen, but if the upcoming generation of ARM CPUs can run Win7 at an acceptable performance level (I'm skeptical) than the battery life gap should be greatly reduced.




By MonkeyPaw on 12/22/2010 10:08:42 AM , Rating: 2
That's the thing, WM7 already has 4000 apps, and these should be as scalable as iPhone apps (if MS did their homework). Also, x86 has so much legacy baggage that keeps it from being a low-power efficient architecture. That's probably what has delayed Atom improvements. Intel is probably missing thier power goals. Even still, you can get 7-10 hours on properly designed x86 notebooks and netbooks today, so I don't see MS having a problem making a W7 tablet to rival iPad. I would see the OS look something like a W7 meets WM7. If nothing else, a tablet with a highly functional office suite would be downright awesome.


By DanNeely on 12/22/2010 2:34:13 PM , Rating: 2
Intel's Oaktrail platform is in manufacturing now and due out Q1 2011, and should have idle power consumption levels slightly higher than top end ARM devices which isn't unreasonable since the sample Anand got to play with over the summer was significantly faster than any arm SOC in used at the time. The issue is that it was built around the first low power optimized process that Intel has ever used. I'd put likely delays on that, not the chip design itself (which was mostly adding a zillion extra power gates).


RE: Well this half explains microsofts tablet strategy
By Flunk on 12/22/2010 10:50:11 AM , Rating: 2
This will not be Windows 7, but a new Windows focused on touchscreen tablets. It will probably be closer to, if not based on Windows Phone 7.


By phatboye on 12/22/2010 3:07:04 PM , Rating: 2
How do you know that? What are your sources? As WM7 is already able to run on ARM chips and has been designed around Phones and tablets it sounds to me that this is a port of Windows OS itself and not WM7 but we will not know until MS makes the announcement.


Hmm
By Ushio01 on 12/22/2010 2:24:32 PM , Rating: 3
Are you sure tablets are the target for this? since with ARM CPU's getting more and more powerful in 2 years I could easily see myself using a laptop powered with an ARM quad core eagle CPU for work especially with windows available.

Just think a laptop with ARM CPU and GPU and an SSD with a total system power draw equal to just a current Intel atom.




RE: Hmm
By jabber on 12/23/2010 5:31:29 AM , Rating: 2
This is the core issue here.

The x86 mega-leviathan legacy architecture is slowly becoming redundant/overkill for many peoples computing needs.

In another year most people will be able to do 90% or more of their daily computing on a ARM cpu quite happily. This will translate through more mobile technology too, which x86 struggles with.

I dont think MS is the worried corp here, they are just covering all the bases as they should.

The real worried folks should be Intel and AMD as they could well be shut out of most of the mobile/domestic market in just a few years.

Plus having a precious x86 manufacture license wont be so important anymore.


Cant wait for Intel forever
By Mitch101 on 12/22/2010 9:35:00 AM , Rating: 2
Microsoft cant keep waiting for Intel to have a real low power alternative to ARM.

Intel/AMD will get there soon enough but ARM pretty much has had the low power chip with enough good graphics power for a while. Intel/AMD just arent there yet no biggie when they are x86 is ready.




"Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine." -- Bill Gates














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