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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,, 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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RE: Windows RT Isn't Going Anywhere Until...
By Etsp on 5/14/2013 5:38:25 PM , Rating: 2
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

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:
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.

"I mean, if you wanna break down someone's door, why don't you start with AT&T, for God sakes? They make your amazing phone unusable as a phone!" -- Jon Stewart on Apple and the iPhone

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