Windows 8 ARM devices to have a 'classic' desktop experience?

Windows 8 ARM devices to have a 'classic' desktop experience?

Summary: Don't get your hopes up too high!

SHARE:

A new rumor (you know the drill, unsourced, unverified) has bubbled to the surface relating to Windows 8 ARM devices. The scuttlebutt is that Microsoft is planning to allow a restricted desktop experience on the ARM version of Windows 8.

Tom Warren of The Verge has the details:

Microsoft is said to be contemplating a restricted desktop for Windows 8 ARM involving trusted certificates for ARM desktop applications.

...

Desktop applications on Windows 8 ARM will likely be restricted to just Internet Explorer and Office, and we're hearing the Office team has put a lot of effort into Office 15 to ensure it is power efficient for ARM devices.

OK, so this is a rumor and we have nothing concrete to go on, but the truth is that this is the sort of scenario that I was expecting, and it makes sense for a number of reasons

  • Some applications just don't work in that Metrofied workspace. They're too awkward and too restrictive. I don't care how well designed they are, there are times (and workflow scenarios) where full-screen apps are a time-suck.
  • I predict that the ARM architecture will start making inroads into the desktop space with Windows 8. While Metro apps are fine on tablets and touch devices, they're going to be kludgy on desktops (because if they weren't, we'd have Metro-style apps already, wouldn't we?).
  • Enterprise wouldn't welcome the additional training burden of switching from applications like Office to apps.
  • Office is a massive money-spinner for Microsoft. Office 'apps' would be nowhere near as lucrative and would likely wean business off the full-blown application suite onto a cheaper platform. If users (in particular enterprise users) realize that they really only use some 10% of the features on offer in a suite like Office, they're going too start to look for something that costs 10% of the price of Microsoft Office.
  • Internet Explorer is already under enough pressure from the likes of Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox without Microsoft giving people an excuse to try something new because they're being foisted onto a Metrofied IE.

So, while we have no evidence to support this rumor, it does make sense that Microsoft would want to retain a classic desktop of sorts even on ARM devices. While that desktop wouldn't have any legacy support, it would allow Microsoft and other developers the chance to port their x86/x64 applications to ARM and retain the existing UI. These applications are likely to be far too power and resource hungry to run on tablets, but if ARM desktops and notebooks take off, that would be an ideal home for such hybrid applications.

Related:

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

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

14 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • RE: Windows 8 ARM devices to have a 'classic' desktop experience?

    Wasn't this reported months ago?
    clcrockett
    • I predict Win8ARM to be a no-show

      Once a somewhat decent Intel tablet-chip emerges then not a whole lot people would be interested in an iffy Win8ARM any more. The majority would choose Win8ITC instead.
      LBiege
      • I agree

        @LBiege Especially as MS seems to be making such a dogs breakfast of what will actually happen on ARM. Will they/won't they on desktop apps etc etc. If Win8ARM only has some of the functionality of Win8x86 most people will go for the latter. I don't think the battery life is much worse. Look at the HP Slate 500 (Win 7). Battery life is ok according to owners. It's not too heavy.

        There's nothing wrong with having Win on ARM but the user needs to get the same experience as on Intel. The user doesn't care what sort of chip he has, nor should be.
        The Star King
      • RE: Windows 8 ARM devices to have a 'classic' desktop experience?

        @LBiege
        Until Intel fundamentally address the Power consumption issue, you'll be in for a long wait.

        Don't you think Microsoft have on the plus side figured this out, but on the minus side decided to hobble Win8 instead of doing an iPod Touch XL = iPad and doing a tab version of Windows Phone 7 OS XL.
        neil.postlethwaite
  • RE: Windows 8 ARM devices to have a 'classic' desktop experience?

    Restricted Access to Desktop on ARM will be a killer idea for Win 8 to be successful in ARM platform. For those who don't want to buy a Intel/Win-8 tablet but still wanted Office then they can go for ARM/Win8. ARM/Win8 with Office, IE and other essential desktop application will help grab the corporate market who would have otherwise gone for an IPAD.
    owlnet
    • RE: Windows 8 ARM devices to have a 'classic' desktop experience?

      @owlnet
      'Restricted Access to Desktop on ARM will be a killer idea for Win 8 to be successful in ARM platform.'
      Killer idea? Kill what? It's not an idea but a reality and MS will suffer the same user and corporate 'thanks, but no thanks' shrug we are witnessing with the change to post PC devices. Are you seriously suggesting that users want the same proliferation of 'versionitis penny anti-ing' tactics of old in addition to a multitude of hardware choices limiting what can and can't be done depending on your software spending?
      frogspaw
      • RE: Windows 8 ARM devices to have a 'classic' desktop experience?

        @frogspaw

        WTF is that jibberish you just stated?

        MS Office has to be available on ARM Tablets. Its a huge advantage over iPad and is what would instantly loosen up Enterprises on Tablets in the work space.
        spaulagain2
  • I hope ...

    ... M$ is putting effort into Office on ARM and efficiency ... because a Windows 8 workstation running on Ivy Bridge with 2 second secure boot startup and an SSD will be an awesome machine.
    jacksonjohn
  • RE: Windows 8 ARM devices to have a 'classic' desktop experience?

    Either way I'll be happy to have Microsoft Windows 8. Don't really see the need for classic desktop anymore now that Metro is going to be taking over for UIs.
    Loverock Davidson-
  • Penned parkland

    Surely Microsoft would never create a walled garden. It'll be more like a perimetered patio.
    Robert Hahn
    • RE: Windows 8 ARM devices to have a 'classic' desktop experience?

      @Robert Hahn

      <em>"It'll be more like a perimetered patio."</em>

      ...versus chaos and uncertainty...
      Raid6
  • Don't know what MS is playing at

    For a start MS needs to be transparent in what it intends. Developers are seriously undermined by the uncertainty and rumours.

    Just supporting Office and explorer on ARM does not add any real functionality above having metro-style versions of these apps. Most people will go for the default metro-style explorer and never see the desktop-style version. The great thing about Windows is the ability to run any app you like. That's the selling point MS needs to emphasise. Sure it means developers need to recompile but MS can make this an easy task by providing the right tools.

    Existing .NET applications should not need recompilation BTW. I can take, say a 2003 vintage game, put it on my ARM Win8 machine and run it perfectly. If this doesn't happen MS has blown it.

    "he Office team has put a lot of effort into Office 15 to ensure it is power efficient for ARM devices"

    MS might have the time to code rewrite Office in ARM assembly language but other devs will not consider power consumption. Think of the 1000's of apps that already run on ARM devices (like Angry Birds). Those who developed those apps never gave a thought to power consumption nor should they. Win 8 ARM needs to be robust enough to cope reasonably well with any code. If it isn't MS is screwed.
    The Star King
    • RE: Windows 8 ARM devices to have a 'classic' desktop experience?

      @The Star King Some of us dont want to buy dumb ass apps or what ever you want to call them, no thank you.
      Rampage434
  • RE: Windows 8 ARM devices to have a 'classic' desktop experience?

    They've got it screwed up. It should be 'classic' desktop for x86 and x64 devices, not ARM.
    ScorpioBlue