Windows 8 Appears to be Running Happily on ARM CPUs
April 13, 2011 1:44 PM
comment(s) - last by
Surprise! Microsoft's Internet Explorer 10 preview was gracefully running an ARM CPU, unbeknownst to the audience. Microsoft employees let this little secret out later at the conference.
Watch out Intel and AMD, power efficient ARM processors will soon be able to run Windows
At CES 2011, Microsoft Corp. (
) CEO Steve Ballmer showed off an early build of a next generation Windows operating system
running on an ARM architecture CPU
. This week at Microsoft's
MIX Developer Conference
in Las Vegas, the company gave developers a surprise Easter egg -- a
preview build of Internet Explorer 10
and its underlying version of Windows were running on a 1 GHz ARM processor.
Samsung Electronics (
), Texas Instruments Inc. (
), Qualcomm Inc. (
), NVIDIA Corp. (
), and other ARM chipmakers have all been hard at work cooking up power savvy multicore offerings, which would be perfect for a netbook or notebook.
Versus similarly clocked x86 processors from Intel or AMD, ARM processors would likely squeeze out an hour or two of extra battery life. While die shrinks and the ever-rising leakage current may eventually largely negate this advantage, in the short term ARM presents the first compelling consumer alternative to x86 in decades.
Windows 8 is expected to
insert Microsoft's Ribbon UI element
into more locations, including Windows Explorer. It is also expected to have deeper touch integration and tie together the PC version of Windows with the Metro UI that Microsoft developed for the defunct Zune and Windows Phone 7.
But the addition of ARM support is perhaps the most anticipated feature.
While ARM currently offers power advantages, how compelling a buy Windows ARM portables will be still remains to be seen. By offering base Windows support, including access to its Office suite and other enterprise tools, Microsoft makes ARM accessible to the everyday consumer.
But exactly how far Microsoft is able to go with its compatibility efforts remains to be seen. If Microsoft can add ARM support for the Direct X and sound libraries, for example, it would be a relatively trivial exercise for developers to recompile their executables for ARM-architecture Windows 8 computers.
Microsoft makes the
world's most used development environment
, Microsoft Visual Studio. By adding tools to make it quick and easy to switch from x86 to ARM builds, Microsoft could make applications compatibility complaints largely a moot point.
Likewise, if Microsoft can embed an ARM-specific virtual machine in the OS with an x86 emulation layer, it might be possible to run native x86 apps, as is, without recompilation. This would be helpful in cases where a company didn't have the source and the application developer was unresponsive or unwilling to make the change. Implementing the same sort of system to provide ARM emulation in x86 Windows would be even more helpful to ARM, because it would allow developers to effectively target the more efficient ARM architecture, while ignoring x86.
Ultimately the question also still remains how low Intel can price its options and how big the true gap in power efficiency will be. Unlike in the past, Intel may now find its pricing ability hindered by
new international scrutiny
that prevents it from resorting to anti-competitive arrangements to try to stomp out pesky rivals like ARM. But the exact picture is unclear.
Even more unclear is the
fate of Microsoft tablets
. Even if ARM takes off in the notebook space, it may do little to help Microsoft sell Windows tablets, with Apple and Android so deeply entrenched. In that regard, Microsoft may find that it's just given ARM a free ride to major expansion. If that's the case Microsoft's customers should still reap minor gains -- a positive for the company -- but Microsoft itself may not make significant in-roads in its market expansion hopes.
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
.NET paying off
4/13/2011 4:28:34 PM
The good thing for Microsoft and consumers is that anything programmed to .NET should run on ARM unchanged.
As for ARM performance, with quad cores and 2.5GHz dual cores arriving next year, there should be no shortage of power. Sure it won't satisfy enthusiasts or gamers, but it will probably compete well with the Atom and AMD's low end Fusion (Brazos, Wichita, etc.).
Things are going to get interesting.
“Then they pop up and say ‘Hello, surprise! Give us your money or we will shut you down!' Screw them. Seriously, screw them. You can quote me on that.” -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng referencing patent trolls
Microsoft Outs Internet Explorer 10 Platform Preview
April 12, 2011, 12:27 PM
Windows 8 Early Build -- Explorer is Built Around Office 2007-like Ribbon
April 5, 2011, 12:03 PM
ARM's Tudor Brown says Microsoft Needs ARM to Grow in Tablet Market
January 7, 2011, 11:14 AM
Microsoft's Ballmer: ARM? There's a Windows PC OS for That
January 6, 2011, 1:30 AM
FTC, Intel Reach Settlement; Intel Banned From Anticompetitive Practices
August 4, 2010, 1:45 PM
Windows 10 on Raspberry Pi, IoT Devices Sees Developer Debut
August 12, 2015, 2:41 PM
Sony Issues Bizzare "Do Not Update" Edict to VAIO PC Owners
August 11, 2015, 9:42 PM
Report: Over 25 Million Devices Upgraded to Windows 10... or Was It 67 Million?
August 7, 2015, 3:24 PM
EA Set to Milk the Star Wars Cash Cow w/ Video Games
July 31, 2015, 12:36 PM
Windows 10 to Get New Features in October Service Release 2 (SR2)
July 30, 2015, 5:50 PM
Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata's Passing Gives the Internet the Feels
July 14, 2015, 4:48 PM
Most Popular Articles
Worth the Wait? Microsoft Teases at Windows 10 Flagship Phones to Air Oct. 6
September 15, 2015, 5:13 PM
Breaking Bad: How to Crash Google's Chrome Browser With Just 8 Characters
September 23, 2015, 11:08 AM
Apple's First Fixes to iOS 9 Land w/ iOS 9.0.1 Release
September 23, 2015, 6:11 PM
Grading Apple's iPhone 6S, a Frustrating Object of Beauty
September 10, 2015, 1:08 PM
Fakebook Pt. I: From "The Chive" to "AskMen"; How Facebook's Phonies are Born and Used
September 15, 2015, 4:00 AM
Latest Blog Posts
Sceptre Airs 27", 120 Hz. 1080p Monitor/HDTV w/ 5 ms Response Time for $220
Dec 3, 2014, 10:32 PM
Costco Gives Employees Thanksgiving Off; Wal-Mart Leads "Black Thursday" Charge
Oct 29, 2014, 9:57 PM
"Bear Selfies" Fad Could Turn Deadly, Warn Nevada Wildlife Officials
Oct 28, 2014, 12:00 PM
The Surface Mini That Was Never Released Gets "Hands On" Treatment
Sep 26, 2014, 8:22 AM
ISIS Imposes Ban on Teaching Evolution in Iraq
Sep 17, 2014, 5:22 PM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2015 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information