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Name of OS is also confirmed

Until now, we knew (officially) that an unnamed successor to Windows 8 would enter Release Preview testing next month at Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFTBUILD Conference.  Now that unnamed release has received an official title.  

At JP Morgan & Chase Comp.'s (JPM) Media and Telecom conference today Windows chief financial officer Tami Reller confirmed rumors that the upcoming OS, codenamed Windows Blue, would be christened "Windows 8.1".

More importantly, the update -- which reportedly will allow users to boot to desktop, return some semblance of the Start button (albeit one that dumps users into Metro), and include better mouse support in Metro -- will be offered for free to Windows 8 customers.  The update will be distributed via the Windows Store.

OEMs are hopeful the update will revive floundering PC sales.  Q1 2013 marked the worse percentage drop in PC unit sales in history.

Tami Reller
Tami Reller announced today that Windows 8.1 will be free. [Image Source: Microsoft News]

Tami Reller yet again addressed Microsoft's sentiments on another key topic -- Windows RT.  Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KSC:005930), The Lenovo Group, Ltd. (HKG:0992), Dell Inc. (DELL), and Acer Inc. (TPE:2357) -- have attacked the OS [1][2][3][4] have all attacked complaining about its lack of legacy compatibility and Microsoft's poor marketing of the platform.  Many of these OEMs have refused to release Windows RT products, sinking sales to an anemic 200,000 tablets in Q1 2013.  But Microsoft, like its hardware partners Qualcomm, Inc. (QCOM) and NVIDIA Corp. (NVDA) [1][2][3], is standing clearly behind the platform.

In a statement at the conference Ms. Reller stated, "We need the flexibility of ARM"

Windows RT
Microsoft is standing behind its ARM product, looking to new form factors.
[Image Source: TalkVietnam]

There may be relief in sight for Windows on ARM (WOA), aka Windows RT.  One of the improvements Windows 8.1 is expected to bring is UI adjustments to accommodate 7- and 8-inch displays.  The explosion of this lower-priced segment helped propel another struggling tablet platform -- Google Inc.'s (GOOG) Android -- from a bit player to a serious contender, with designs like the Samsung Galaxy Tab, Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN) Kindle Fire, and ASUSTek Computer, Inc. (TPE:2357) Google-branded Nexus 7 tablet.

There's not much Microsoft can do about the legacy compatibility issue, other than to try to foster the growth of ARM-compatible apps in the Windows Store.  But hopefully Microsoft improves its educational efforts, both in general on how to use Windows 8 (for new users) and the differences between Windows 8/8.1 and RT (for potential ARM device buyers).

Source: Microsoft



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Windows RT Isn't Going Anywhere Until...
By Arsynic on 5/14/2013 4:04:51 PM , Rating: -1
x86 tablets get better battery life. And even then, ARM will always be ahead of the curve.

x86 just can't compete with ARM SoCs when it comes to the sweet spot of portability and battery life.




RE: Windows RT Isn't Going Anywhere Until...
By DukeN on 5/14/2013 4:06:32 PM , Rating: 2
Haswell should help bridge this gap...


RE: Windows RT Isn't Going Anywhere Until...
By Arsynic on 5/14/2013 4:12:05 PM , Rating: 2
I hope so, because RT confuses consumers (it looks too much like Windows 8 Pro) and the only decent devices go up against the iPad.


RE: Windows RT Isn't Going Anywhere Until...
By dgingerich on 5/14/13, Rating: 0
RE: Windows RT Isn't Going Anywhere Until...
By Argon18 on 5/14/2013 6:09:06 PM , Rating: 1
So everyone who doesn't have intimate knowledge of Microsoft's product portfolio, as well as the various tablet processor architectures, is an "idiot"? Seriously?

The fact is, Microsoft screwed up big time with this product. They gave it the same look and feel as their desktop Windows OS. They even named it "Windows". But it's completely incompatible with any previous Windows software, from Microsoft or anyone else.

Windows RT is its own closed proprietary ecosystem, not compatible with anything else. Marketing it as a " Microsoft Windows tablet " is most definitely confusing. Add to the incompatibility, the fact that the devices are all under-powered and overpriced. Which is why only an idiot would buy an Windows RT tablet.


By karimtemple on 5/15/2013 8:35:30 AM , Rating: 2
But this isn't strictly true, is it? 8 and RT can run the same software, it's just that it doesn't include legacy software.

It's true that they could have represented that by calling RT "RT" instead of "Windows RT," and simply said that Windows can run RT software too, but Microsoft has a goal here and that strategy does not serve that goal. Microsoft wants to be able to say that they have a platform that seamlessly applies to every form factor from the phone to the desktop.


By Visual on 5/15/2013 8:49:04 AM , Rating: 2
It didn't have to be incompatibe, and that's the main thing that pisses me off. They just chose to make it more so on purpose.

Obviously it couldn't ever run x86 code 100% smooth, even though and emulator that forwards API calls by a XDA developer is showing a great potential. I wish MS could have thought of that and made it themselves, and it's still not too late for them to help along, but regardless, that is not even the main point.

A lot of desktop programs can be (and already have been) implemented in potentially cross-platform scripting languages, like powershell or javascript using winforms or WPF APIs, but MS chose to block those APIs. Why?
Or even just javascript/html5, which is one of the options for the metro apps, why is it not allowed for desktop apps? Why remove .hta applications support?
Why not allow sideloading of apps, allow normal users to run unsigned or selfsigned apps, even if after some security confirmation prompt?
Why make the whole platform so hostile to casual developers and tinkerers...


By domboy on 5/15/2013 8:36:59 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
There are still a couple things I wish I could do with it, like a serial terminal for programming switches and raid arrays and a VNC client software, but you can't win them all.


If you're willing to run the script to modify the executable signing requirement, TightVNC has been recompiled to run on ARM.

http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=2...

Putty is on the list too, but unless you know of a Serial to USB adapter that works with Windows RT you're still stuck. I tried the one I had a work and RT didn't have a driver for it.


By Bateluer on 5/14/2013 4:34:46 PM , Rating: 2
Silvermount.


RE: Windows RT Isn't Going Anywhere Until...
By Jammrock on 5/14/2013 4:40:20 PM , Rating: 2
Haswell is going to be awesome for tablets and ultrabooks. And for HTPC's. And I'm sure desktops will be happy too.


By StevoLincolnite on 5/14/2013 7:31:32 PM , Rating: 1
From a performance perspective, Haswell isn't anything special if the leaks are anything to go by.

At the moment I'm running Sandy Bridge-E, I'm finding it difficult to get excited about Ivy Bridge-E or Haswell, the performance gains just aren't there to entice me to upgrade.

Heck, all Intel had to do with Ivy Bridge-E was add a couple more cores and I would have spent $600 - $1000 for a CPU upgrade, but that's not even happening. :(

For portable devices? Haswell is an entirely different ball game.


By Shadowself on 5/14/2013 5:24:26 PM , Rating: 2
Haswell is a step in that direction. However, it will take until Broadwell (or maybe even Skylake) to really get there.


By ResStellarum on 5/15/2013 12:35:26 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Haswell should help bridge this gap...


Where have I heard that before I wonder.. Oh yeah, I remember now. For the last two intel atom generations people have been saying the exact same thing, and guess what, the Atom is still no where near ARM's RISC in terms of efficiency or price.

Wake me up when an in production Intel arch beats ARM, not some next gen design that's not even out yet.


By Mint on 5/14/2013 4:46:20 PM , Rating: 2
They can compete just fine. Look at Anandtech's articles on the topic.

We just need to wait for competition to kick in for Atom tablets, like they did for Atom netbooks. They should be no more than $50 pricier than the equivalent ARM tablet, but right now it's more like $200.


RE: Windows RT Isn't Going Anywhere Until...
By 91TTZ on 5/14/2013 5:00:06 PM , Rating: 5
ARM chips are not more efficient when it comes to performance per watt. Most of this misconception stems from the difference in performance between ARM chips and X86 chips. People see a fast x86 chip that uses more power, so they divide the power consumption by the speed multiple. In other words, if an Intel chip is 3x faster than an ARM chip but uses 4x more power, they think the ARM chip must be more power efficient. But that's not the case. Power usage does not scale linearly with performance. If you want to increase the speed of a chip 2x, its power usage is going to climb by much more than 2x.


RE: Windows RT Isn't Going Anywhere Until...
By Etsp on 5/14/2013 5:38:25 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
People see a fast x86 chip that uses more power, so they divide the power consumption by the speed multiple
Speed multiple? If by speed multiple, you mean overall performance then the following is true: if an x86 chip gets 3x the performance for 4x the power, then the ARM chip IS more efficient in terms of performance per watt. The x86 chip is only 75% as efficient. It might take the ARM chip 3x as long to do the same task, but it will only take 3/4 of the power to do it.

Also, they don't divide the power consumption by the performance, they divide the performance by the power consumption. Performance "per" Watt. Per. As in, you divide "performance" by the wattage to get performance per watt.


RE: Windows RT Isn't Going Anywhere Until...
By karimtemple on 5/15/2013 8:43:35 AM , Rating: 2
Correction:

p = performance units
e = energy units
(t = time units)

ARM = 1p/t (@3e)
x86 = ARMx3 = 3p/t (@4e)

Scenario: Execute 45 performance units.

ARM = 45 t, 135 e.
x86 = 15 t, 60 e.


RE: Windows RT Isn't Going Anywhere Until...
By Etsp on 5/15/2013 1:38:53 PM , Rating: 2
Correction to your correction:
ARM = 1p/t (@1e)

That was the comparison. The x86 chip uses 4 times the power, not 4/3 times the power.


RE: Windows RT Isn't Going Anywhere Until...
By karimtemple on 5/15/2013 2:41:52 PM , Rating: 2
Good point. However: what x86 chip? Medfield doesn't even use 1.1x the power, let alone 4x.


RE: Windows RT Isn't Going Anywhere Until...
By Etsp on 5/15/2013 5:38:30 PM , Rating: 2
I was responding to 91TTZ's comment, and that's where those numbers come from. Specifically:
quote:
In other words, if an Intel chip is 3x faster than an ARM chip but uses 4x more power, they think the ARM chip must be more power efficient.


I'm not sure why that comment is rated a 4... his own example proves him wrong... the ARM chip in that configuration IS more power efficient.


By karimtemple on 5/16/2013 8:41:43 AM , Rating: 2
Well I was doing a direct comparison, but 91TTZ wasn't. He was saying if you made Hypothetical ARM Chip as powerful as Hypothetical x86 Chip, the ARM chip would use more power. It's not strictly relevant when you start talking about direct device usage comparisons, but it's still a pretty salient point. And it's a point that could contribute toward his premise if properly followed up.


RE: Windows RT Isn't Going Anywhere Until...
By Strunf on 5/15/2013 9:07:02 AM , Rating: 2
What he says is that if lets say you could increase the performance of the ARM by 3x to get the same performance as the x86 then you would expect your power would only increase by 3x too, however that's not the case, performance and power doesn't scale at the same rate, within the same architecture to double your performance you would have to multiply your power requirements by much more than 2x.

Performance/watt favors smaller/less complex CPUs, what you say is true however I would rather have a tablet that lasts for 8h and has the same performance of my PC than one that lasts for 24h with 1/3 the performance of my PC, mobility is important but after a certain number of hours it only becomes relevant for some.


By Etsp on 5/15/2013 1:57:26 PM , Rating: 2
It's certainly more complicated than simply increasing the power by 3x to get 3x the performance. I agree with that completely.

That said, if a slower ARM SoC can get the job done, why use x times the power for an x86?

There exists a sweet-spot for battery life for mobile devices, and more efficient chips help you get to that point. I suspect phones and smaller devices require a longer battery life than a tablet. 8 hours on a tablet sounds right to me, but on a phone would be unacceptable.


RE: Windows RT Isn't Going Anywhere Until...
By tayb on 5/14/2013 5:05:44 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
x86 just can't compete with ARM SoCs when it comes to the sweet spot of portability and battery life.


Neither Intel/AMD nor Arm can deliver enough performance at a low enough power envelope. Arm is low power but also low performance. X86 is high high power but high performance. They are both heading the opposite direction it is just a matter of who gets their first.

In my opinion it doesn't really matter who gets there first as long as Intel gets there in the next 3-4 years. If the Surface Pro had 10 hours of battery life you wouldn't be able to find one. Microsoft wouldn't be able to keep up with demand.


By mcnabney on 5/14/2013 7:21:11 PM , Rating: 2
That would help, but 99.999% of the software that Win8 Pro tablets can run are NOT happy with the touch interface. They are made for the high precision of the mouse.


By althaz on 5/14/2013 10:31:12 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
If the Surface Pro had 10 hours of battery life you wouldn't be able to find one. Microsoft wouldn't be able to keep up with demand.

I still can't bloody find one!


By Ammohunt on 5/14/2013 5:17:38 PM , Rating: 2
You opened a can of worms with the intel fanbois..didja hear the next intel version of atom will slice, dice and julienne! ARM is in billions of devices intel faces a steep uphill battle.


By XZerg on 5/16/2013 9:19:01 AM , Rating: 1
your statement don't make sense
quote:
Windows RT Isn't Going Anywhere Until... x86 tablets get better battery life. And even then, ARM will always be ahead of the curve.
at all

Windows RT is meant for ARM based chips and should in fact benefit from x86 tablets not having better battery life and inversely suffer a pathetic death if and when x86 tablets get better battery life.

As for
quote:
ARM will always be ahead of the curve
- correct Ms. Sylvia Browne. Look at how fast Intel is progressing towards cutting the power envelope and at the same time improving performance/power - try comparing the same against ARM chips. ARM chips are easily beat by the "poorly" designed Atom chips in performance and are NOT superbly better in terms of battery life. The same Atom chip you would not like to have on your computer to run the heavy weight Windows OS and applications. How do you think ARM chips would fare against the same usage?

Wait and watch how things play out and go for the products that best suite your needs at the time. For me I am in no hurry to pick up a tablet and would rather have a full-fledged Windows system capable of running the apps I have to use.


"If you look at the last five years, if you look at what major innovations have occurred in computing technology, every single one of them came from AMD. Not a single innovation came from Intel." -- AMD CEO Hector Ruiz in 2007














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