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Microsoft's Windows 8 to support ARM

Posted: 10 Jan 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Windows 8? ARM-based chips? x86?

Software giant Microsoft Corp. has declared that the next version of its Windows OS, most likely to be called Windows 8, will run on ARM-based chips. The announcement confirms earlier claims that the company would seek additional support for Windows, which currently runs on x86 platforms.

Windows 8 will run on ARM-based SoCs from Microsoft partners Nvidia Corp., Qualcomm Inc. and Texas Instruments Inc., as well as x86 architecture products from Intel Corp. and Advanced Micro Devices Inc., Microsoft announced at a press event on the eve of the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show (CES).

"Windows support for SoCs is an important step for Microsoft and for the industry," said Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's CEO, in his annual pre-CES keynote address on January 5. "Increasingly, people want a Windows experience on all of their devices."

Microsoft had for years resisted calls for the company to add support of ARM-based devices to Windows�though Windows CE has supported ARM devices for some time. Lack of Windows support was once seen as limiting the growth potential of netbooks and other lower cost devices that use ARM-based devices. However, the emergence of Google Inc.'s Android OS�and its subsequent momentum�changed the equation, and likely persuaded Microsoft to act to stem Android's momentum and open the door for the company to new kinds of low-cost, low-power products like tablets.

Speculation had been building that Microsoft would support ARM for months, particularly after Microsoft licensed the ARM core from ARM Holdings plc last July but declined to reveal its plans. Late last month, ARM's stock price spiked after rumors circulated that Microsoft would announce Windows support for ARM at CES.

On Wednesday, Microsoft executives showed demonstrations of a still-in-development form of the next Windows running on machines powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon, Nvidia's Tegra and TI's OMAP. Microsoft did not say when the next version of Windows would be available, or disclose any other features of the forthcoming OS. The demonstrations of the next-generation Windows running on computers with ARM-based SoCs used the same user interface as Windows 7.

Dylan McGrath
EE Times

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