CES: Microsoft shows off Windows 8 on ARM

CES: Microsoft shows off Windows 8 on ARM

Summary: Microsoft demonstrated at a press conference on January 5 the "next version of Windows" running on ARM processors, as many Microsoft watchers had been expecting.

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CES 2011

Microsoft demonstrated at a press conference on January 5 the "next version of Windows" running on ARM processors, as many Microsoft watchers had been expecting.

At the press conference -- held a few hours before CEO Steve Ballmer will keynote the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) -- Microsoft Windows President Steven Sinofsky showed off an early build of Windows 8 runnong on new systems-on-a-chip (SoC) platforms from NVIDIA, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments on ARM. To prove Microsoft isn't abandonning the x86 architecture with Windows 8, company officials also showed off Windows 8 running on x86 SOC.

Rumors that Microsoft would show off Windows 8 running on ARM have been circulating for the past couple of weeks. Earlier this week, TechFlash reported that Microsoft had cut deals with the aforementioned ARM chip makers, which will enable Windows 8 to run on ARM-based systems once the next release of Microsoft's operating system is available.

Sinofsky told press conference attendees they were forbidden from videotaping demos of the next version of Windows. Unsurprisingly, he also said Microsoft would not discuss its release schedule plans or show off the new Windows 8 user interface.

Microsoft has been working to port Windows to ARM for several years. I had heard about LongARM, a project to port Vista (codenamed Longhorn) to ARM a while back. Microsoft last year signed an architecture licensing agreement with ARM, but wouldn't say anything about its plans at that time.

Microsoft is believed to be finally backing ARM as that low-power processor is especially well suited to tablets and slates, which are one of the primary form factors Microsoft plans to target with Windows 8.

Windows 8, according to my tipsters, is just around the Milestone 2 mark, which is the second major internal build for the operating system. A public test build of Windows 8 isn't expected by most until later this year. Microsoft officials have continued to decline to say when the company is planning to ship Windows 8. GIven that Windows 7 was released to manufacturing in July 2009, one would think a 2012 launch date is a possibility. (I have heard from some that Microsoft, once it does talk dates, may say 2013 to eliminate any possibility of being "late.")

Update: More from the Microsoft CES press conference and press releases:

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

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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73 comments
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  • So that's why

    No cameras were allowed. :(

    This is a sign of good things though. Imagine the laptops and slates that will result from this.
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • RE: Microsoft shows off Windows 8 on ARM

      @Cylon Centurion 0005 No cameras were allowed to hide the failure.
      cyberslammer2
      • RE: Microsoft shows off Windows 8 on ARM

        @cyberslammer2

        You'll be pleased to hear Long Zheng got some shots off from the conference. Seems there was no *flash* photography allowed.
        The one and only, Cylon Centurion
      • Get a life

        @cyberslammer2 <br><br>I guess your saying that people who were there to report on the demonstration have no ability to report without video. What a crock.<br><br>I suggest that if it was a failure by any definition that there were at least enough Windows haters like you to report that despite a lack of video proof, they observed a failed attempt to demonstrate Windows 8 on an ARM processor. And that didn't, and will not happen.<br><br>Its posts like yours that are clearly designed for no other purpose then to try and stifle reasonable debate among reasonable people. <br><br>Nice shot. Too bad you not only missed the target, you made it plain you were not even pointing at the target as your post is so ludicrous it hardly pretends to have any air of reality about it.
        Cayble
    • Centurion, it looks to be the news that cyberslammer

      dreaded hearing. He's already made 2 posts on it.

      I guess his strutting around with the believe that Windows would [i]never[/i] run on ARM has just been destroyed.

      He's gotta be pissed. :)
      John Zern
      • RE: Microsoft shows off Windows 8 on ARM

        @John Zern

        Donnie is going to be so depressed ;-)
        tonymcs@...
    • Imagine the SKUs that will result from this

      Adding ARM to the plethora of windows versions will be funny to watch.

      Good move by MS. Worrying news for Intel in this space (and those of us with platforms built on Atom). The pipeline must be pretty poor for MS to make this call.
      Richard Flude
      • RE: Microsoft shows off Windows 8 on ARM

        @Richard Flude

        You make me laugh. Plethora of Windows versions? Really? There are many more times the amount of Linux versions then there are Windows. And not every Linux version can run the same software or work with the same hardware. That is not so with Windows. Of course there are a few exceptions but for the most part Windows no matter the version is split into to three main segments. Desktop, Server, and Mobile. The only poor call I see here is your ignorant statement based on your lack of knowledge.
        bobiroc
      • bobiroc, they have at least 14 skus for win7 desktop already!

        Do you MCSEs even know what ignorant means?
        Richard Flude
      • Re: they have at least 14 skus for win7 desktop already!

        @Richard Flude

        Great, that is because they have separate SKUs to differentiate the 32bit and 64bit versions as well as the retail and OEM versions but the there is no functionality or GUI difference between them. Windows Home Premium operates the same as Windows Ultimate whether it is 32bit or 64bit or OEM or Retail and thats the point Richard. You ask if I know what ignorant means and I have to wonder if you do. Do you even know what a SKU is? There are company's that have multiple SKUs for the exact same product and the only reason there are separate SKUs is because they are sold to different markets. This is the case here with Windows and while there are 14 SKUs for the Desktop Version there are really only 4 versions of Windows 7 in the desktop side of things when it comes to terms of functionality and features. Those versions are Basic/Starter, Home Premium, Professional, and Ultimate/Enterprise.

        Now that that to Linux. They also have separate 32 bit and 64bit as well as Desktop and Server for most of the many different distros of Linux. And as you go through those many distros they all look different and in most cases operate different. And that sir is my point. Whether it is Windows Home Premium or Windows Ultimate and even if you go to Windows Server they all have a very similar look and feel and operate much the same as well.

        You made a very poor attempt to slam Windows by just using the fact that they have separate SKUs to determine how the product is sold and priced. I am quite sure that if Linux was a for sale product they would have a very similar set up. In fact the versions of linux that are for sale do. Now why don't you run along and let the intelligent people talk and you can come back when you have something of substance to contribute.
        bobiroc
      • RE: Microsoft shows off Windows 8 on ARM

        @Richard Flude 32bit and 64bit aren't running exactly the same. Many older programs and drivers run on one and not the other. It's nit-picky I know, but still technically inaccurate. Media and server versions also, because Microsoft has removed media components from some versions of Windows for security reasons.
        Socratesfoot
      • Server vs Desktop

        @bobiroc With Linux, the difference is simply the initial packages that get installed. A Desktop is a Server is a Desktop. Just try loading some MS Server apps on a MS Desktop O/S... any of them!

        BTW, I use both Windows and Linux... Horses for courses :-)
        david.hunt@...
      • I beg your pardon???????????

        @Richard Flude <br><br>If I understand the point your trying to make, and by all means, correct me if I am wrong...<br><br>You say:<br><br>"Adding ARM to the plethora of windows versions will be funny to watch."<br><br>This means it humerus to watch a company that produces operating systems produce an operating system that will run on a new processor that previous versions would not run on? Is that the long and short of it?<br><br>Let me expand; perhaps its due to the fact that Windows is already offered in multiple versions, so that Windows 8 being offered in a version that will now run on ARM, a processor that by all accounts is gaining in popularity due to the advance of micro processing generally, that now that there may be one more version of Windows is hilarious, as in is an inherently jokey thing that an OS has multiple versions, particularly when the company that produces said OS tries to accommodate a new and growing segment of the market??<br><br>Ya...thats just flippin' hilarious by anyones standard...except the general public. General public that is, excluding IT types who have lost all touch with what the real Joe Average general public really wants in the real world and not the world of IT types who judge everything by nothing more then their own personal preferences.<br><br>Then you say:<br><br>"Good move by MS. Worrying news for Intel in this space (and those of us with platforms built on Atom). The pipeline must be pretty poor for MS to make this call."<br><br>I guess you were hoping that not a soul would throw it in your face what a backhanded compliment "Good move by MS" is considering your ridiculous comment about Intel and the whole "pipeline must be pretty poor for MS to make this call" comment implies.<br><br>Your just plain silly and always keep in mind that there is always a serious risk of someone calling you out for being so silly when you purposely talk so silly when it would seem for obvious reasons you should know better.
        Cayble
    • RE: Microsoft shows off Windows 8 on ARM

      @Cylon Centurion 0005 : not to spoil the party (which hasn't happened yet), but the reason no cameras were allowed was to avoid attendees to videotape screenshots which are definitely "work in progress" or are otherwise incomplete.

      Also they want to hide any "future looking" features that might inadvertently be included in the ported code.

      This is neither bad or good, the only main problem is that "Windows 8" arrival is too far down the road and might as well become irrelevant in the coming days or might be superseded by any faster moving target, aka iOS, Android, et. al.
      cosuna
  • RE: Microsoft shows off Windows 8 on ARM

    With Microsoft following Apple and Google to ARM, is Intel going to miss the mobile revolution?
    rynning
    • There will allways be a need for more powerful

      laptops running X86 then there will be ARM based devices, which would be my guess.
      John Zern
    • RE: Microsoft shows off Windows 8 on ARM

      @rynning Hard to say. It should be noted, though, that Intel does actually have a licence for ARM, and could theoretically produce their own ARM chips.
      CobraA1
      • RE: Microsoft shows off Windows 8 on ARM

        @CobraA1 - moreover, it wasn't that long ago that Intel was manufacturing their XScale processors, born from the StrongARM processors they acquired from DEC.

        Marvell went on to purchase Intel's ARM IP outright in 2006, but Intel still retains a full ARM Architecture license.

        One might imagine a future SOC from Intel that would include both an ARM and x86 front-end instruction set atop scalable execution pipelines.

        Now THAT would be nice :)
        bitcrazed
    • Nahh...

      @rynning : we can't say this at this moment.

      The only thing for sure is that the processor architecture race has been rebooted and is alive and kicking.

      We were quite sure x86 had won the previous race, beating Alpha, PowerPC, Precision Arch., even it's own Kin (pun intended) Itanium (Itanic).

      Well, times change... ain't they...
      cosuna
  • RE: Microsoft shows off Windows 8 on ARM

    Windows 8 better not flop...it's following the trend of failure...

    ME - FLOP
    XP - SUCCESS
    VISTA - FLOP
    7- SUCCESS
    8 - ??????
    cyberslammer2