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Upcoming Windows OS supports ARM, x86

Posted: 15 Sep 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:ARM? Windows 8? x86? operating system?

Microsoft Corp. has given the public a taste of what its next Windows 8 will look like. According to the company, the forthcoming OS supports ARM-based processors and touch screen and touts a 'metro-style' interface.

"We re-imagined Windows," noted Steven Sinofsky, president of the Windows and Windows Live division at Microsoft. "From the chipset to the user experience, Windows 8 brings a new range of capabilities without compromise. We are going to be driven by the quality and not by a date."

Microsoft has shown the ease of writing applications for Windows 8 by offering a demonstration of writing a photo-sharing application in only 58 lines of code. Sinofsky said Windows 8 will allow developers to write applications in several different languages, including Xaml, Javascript, C++ and others.

Questions about compatibility have lingered around Windows 8, with some OEMs saying privately that Microsoft has been less than forthcoming with information about whether Windows for ARM-based systems would support all applications built for x86 systems. Sinofsky seemed to be trying to lay these concerns to rest by emphasizing compatibility, saying that applications built for Windows 8 will run on all hardware that Windows 8 supports.

In addition to ARM-based and x86 chipsets, Windows 8 will support x64 and x32 devices, according to Microsoft. Sinofsky also touched on the Windows Store that will allow developers to sell their applications worldwide. "Every new Windows PC is a target customer," he told developers. "Realize that could be more than 400 million people when this project launches."

Windows 8

The start screen for Windows 8.

Michael Angiulo, corporate VP of the planning and PC ecosystem team at Microsoft showed Windows 8 running on tablets and notebooks powered by Qualcomm Inc.'s Snapdragon processor, Texas Instruments Inc.'s OMAP, Nvida Corp.'s Tegra and Intel Corp. processors, including Ultrabooks, Intel's early-stage concept for ultra-light, low-power notebooks.

Microsoft also emphasized the boot up speed of Windows 8 PCs compared to those that run previous versions of Windows. Angiulo said the boot up speed is about eight seconds and that some early systems can actually boot up faster than the monitor can turn on.

Microsoft said ultra-thin PCs and tablets that run Windows 8 will run all day on a single charge and stay connected to the Internet.

The OS will also feature an enhanced Task Manager and Windows Explorer and new, flexible options for multimonitor setups. Sinofsky joked that "it's been about 20 years" since Microsoft updated the Windows Task Manager.

Sinofsky said Windows 8 applications communicate with each other to create a more powerful system. "We had this bold notion that apps should work together as a web of apps on your machine that when you get new apps, the apps would work together and the system just gets richer and richer."

Chris Jones, senior VP of Windows and Windows Live, showed that Windows 8 can support cloud-based services, including a metro-style mail client that manages multiple e-mail accounts from one location and a photo-sharing application that manages photos stored on multiple devices.

- Dylan McGrath
??EE Times

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