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No compromise experience for Windows 8 on ARM

Posted: 14 Feb 2012 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:WOA? Windows 8?

Microsoft Corp. has laid out details of its Windows 8 on ARM (WOA) plans. In a long and detailed blog post called "Building Windows for the ARM processor architecture," president of the Windows division at Microsoft, Steven Sinofsky, said WOA would represent a "no-compromise" experience and would "look and feel just like you would expect."

"You will sign in the same way. You will start and launch apps the same way. You will use the new Windows Store the same way," he said.

Likewise, users on both platforms will have access to the new Start screen and Metro style apps, as well as Internet Explorer, Windows File Explorer and other peripherals.

Sinofsky said WOA would also allow users to access Windows desktop if they wanted, and that it would offer "the same fast and fluid experience."

Addressing issues of compatible software for the ARM architecture, Sinofsky said WOA would include Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote in a package codenamed "Office 15", significantly architected for both touch and minimized power/resource consumption while also being fully-featured for consumers and providing complete document compatibility. Thus, rather than be a Metro-style app, Office on ARM will run in the same way as a Desktop application.

Whether Office on Windows 8 ARM devices will be bundled in and whether or not it will be free, however, is still unknown.

Microsoft did clarify that WOA would not be available as standalone, meaning users will not be able to load it on any ARM-based device, instead, it will be loaded directly onto OEM partner products.

"Partners will provide WOA PCs as integrated, end-to-end products that include hardware, firmware, and Windows on ARM software," said Sinofsky, noting that this was to be expected from consumer electronics devices relying on "unique and integrated pairings of hardware and software."

Sinofsky also addressed the fact that various ARM-based chipsets would provide different experiences, noting, "each ARM licensee building these packages takes a different approach to selecting features, making product tradeoffs, and designing the complete silicon package."

These choices, he said, would offer a differentiation factor.


WOA devices don't need to be turned off because they operate similarly to mobile phones on "connected standby," making traditional modes of "hibernate" and "sleep" redundant.

"There is no single ARM experience, and as we have seen with other operating systems, even the same ARM CPU combined with different components, drivers, and software can yield different types or qualities of experiences."

Sinofsky said this was the reason Microsoft chose to work with three different ARM licensees from the get go, namely Nvidia, Qualcomm, and Texas Instruments.

"Each brings different expertise and different approaches, and all will make a unique contribution to WOA," he said.

WOA was a "significant engineering task"
Sinofsky admitted that enabling Windows to run "super well" on the ARM architecture had been a significant engineering task, but said the outcome would be a "re-imagined Windows from the chipset to the experience."

Part of that experience is the Metro style application setup, hardware-accelerated HTML5 with Internet Explorer 10 and an "instant connectivity" feature.

WOA devices don't need to be turned off, according to Microsoft, because they operate similarly to mobile phones on "connected standby," making traditional modes of "hibernate" and "sleep" redundant.

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