Microsoft: No Windows 7 for ARM-based netbooks (for now)

Summary:Microsoft is not going to make Windows 7 available for ARM-based netbooks and PCs, company officials said at this week's Computex trade show. But Microsoft still isn't saying it never will deliver a port of Windows to ARM.

Microsoft is not going to make Windows 7 available for ARM-based netbooks and PCs, company officials said at this week's Computex trade show.

The decision isn't too surprising, given Microsoft's long-standing partnerships with Intel and AMD. Earlier this year, however, officials with the One Laptop Per Child Project (OLPC) hinted that the group was moving to ARM and that Microsoft was considering seriously a port of Windows to the ARM processor.

On June 3, a company spokesperson confirmed there will be no Windows 7 for ARM -- at least for now. Microsoft's official statement:

"At this time, Windows 7 does not support any ARM architecture. Currently, Windows works on both x86 and x64 platforms, which, thanks to the pervasive PC hardware standard, power the vast majority of the world's laptops and desktops. In the specialized devices space, where ARM is well suited, we offer the Windows Embedded CE platform."

Note that Microsoft officials did not say the company would never release a version of Windows that would run on ARM. This week's statement only says Windows 7 isn't currently available for it. So maybe Microsoft wasn't able to finish its rumored port of Windows 7 to ARM in time for delivery this year but it's still on the drawing board ... or maybe we'll see Windows 8 running on ARM.

Microsoft's decision does mean that the company is leaving the ARM netbook door wide open for Linux, Android and other non-Windows operating systems. At Computex, PC makers showed off five or six new ARM netbooks that are expected to run the Google Android operating system.

Microsoft officials are downplaying the potential impact of Android, Moblin and other Linux variants on netbooks, claiming that the dearth of compatible software will be a limiting factor for these platforms. It's not surprising, given Microsoft's love/hate relationship with "small laptops," as company officials prefer to call netbooks, that Microsoft officials don't address the potential appeal of netbooks to users who prefer Web-based services/applications....

Microsoft also officials confirmed at Computex that the company and its PC partners are going to launch, as expected, an upgrade program, via which customers buying new Vista PCs will get a free upgrade to Windows 7 once it is available. Microsoft still won't say when the program will kick off, but is positioning the program as its stop-gap measure for addressing this year's back-to-school PC market. However, the enthusiast site TechARP says the date the upgrade program will launch is now June 26, meaning users who buy new Vista PCs between June 26 and late October will qualify for a free copy of Windows 7 after it becomes generally available on October 22.

What's your guess about what's going on with Microsoft and ARM? Do you still think there will be a port of Windows 7 to ARM (but maybe not until 2010)? Or do you think the Softies are going to stick with Intel and AMD, even if the ARM netbook market gets hot?

Topics: Processors, Hardware, Microsoft, Mobility, Operating Systems, Software, Windows

About

Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

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