Microsoft Windows 8 on ARM: No business use?

Microsoft Windows 8 on ARM: No business use?

Summary: HP says it is holding off on Windows RT and Microsoft's tablet effort on ARM because business users will prefer the Intel ecosystem. Will others follow?

TOPICS: Mobility

HP won't be first in the Windows RT---Windows 8 on ARM---parade partially because the company is betting that businesses won't be interested.

For now, HP's bet looks like a good one. Last week, a report in Semiaccurate noted that HP was bailing on the Windows RT effort. Naturally, HP's news looked like retaliation for Microsoft's Surface announcement.

eb-surface-three-in-lineCredit: Ed Bott

The reality is a bit more nuanced. HP said in a statement:

HP continues to look at using ARM processors in business and consumer products.  However, our first Win 8 tablet will be on the x86 platform focused on the business market.  The decision to go with x86 was influenced by input from our customers.  The robust and established ecosystem of x86 applications provides the best customer experience at this time and in the immediate future.

The PC maker's move makes a lot of sense and also signals a bigger issue for Windows RT. The biggest issue is whether Windows 8 users will accept a clean break from the x86 ecosystem. Simply put, Windows 8 tablets on Intel will run Microsoft's previous applications. For business users, who aren't going to fawn over the latest and greatest releases, that distinction is huge.

Related: Microsoft's new Surface tablets make a solid first impression | Microsoft Surface tablets: Reading the fine print | CNET: The other Windows 8 hits some snags

In other words, no business technology buyer is going to be interested in Windows RT unless consumers bring it into the workplace. Microsoft shops are going to want an x86 Windows 8 tablet.

There's a quiet debate going on about Windows RT. Is it a hedge that may go away in a year? Is Windows RT doomed to fail without support for legacy applications? Will Windows RT get the real Office experience?

Those questions are all valid. Perhaps folks will rush out and buy Microsoft's Surface on ARM out of the gate. But many will wait for the x86 version.

If you're an OEM such as HP you really have no reason to hop on the Windows RT bandwagon prematurely. Let's face it: Windows RT may not sell well out of the gate. Why commit to new supply chain wrinkles---procuring Nvidia Tegra processors over Intel's---on a bet where the odds are unknown? Qualcomm and Nvidia are on the Windows RT bandwagon, but they have a vested interest in selling chips for these tablets.

Should Windows RT on ARM become a hit there will plenty of time for OEMs to get on the bandwagon. However, the burden of proof rests with Microsoft and sales.

Topic: Mobility

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  • Windows suffering from engineering decisions made long ago

    If Windows had continued to support a different architectures there would have been a much earlier effort to separate the kernel from the gui and as a consequence they are now finding it much harder to be cross device. Trouble is if they try to correct that mistake (as they are trying now) BOOM bang goes your backward compatibility and you are now alienating your current users. Apple have seen this coming and are ready, Linux is the engineers toolbox so the question is for MS where is your focus ?

    I think MS should have designed W8 as a completely new OS and used W7 like XP as a LTS OS. W8 as it stands is just a horrible compromise that falls between stools
    Alan Smithie
    • Decisions made long ago?

      Separating the GUI and Kernel are exactly the problem with Linux for the desktop. Users don't have expectation of consistency, application compatibility, and therefore they see an uneven user experience.

      Developers are now, and have always been with regards to Linux distros, highly reluctant to invest time and money. If I were Corel and I wanted to port over the Draw graphics suite I'd be hard pressed to find A) a market, B) a reliable platform on which to develop, a platform that would ensure "cross distro" compatibility, and finally C) a common user experience.

      It could be done, but it'd cost be plenty to do it. Oh, wait, Corel did try back around version 8 if memory serves me correctly. That didn't go over very well.

      For all of Windows issues, as a developer there is a consistency, and a fulfilled expectation of knowing what the environment consists of, and the support of a robust framework that allows applications to scale as Windows versions come down the pipeline. With any framework, weather its .NET, or PHP coding frameworks, or any other, programmers must use discipline.

      As for the engineers toolbox, that isn't the case. Hackers, web servers, any a myriad of other utilities, YES, Linux rightfully reigns supreme. As a platform for complete freedom, flexibility, and free of most controls, YES again, Linux is just that.

      If you are talking about "Engineering", uhm, no, such is not the case. Every engineering firm I have worked for, and with, have all been Windows shops (that is without exception). I have worked with or for dozens over the past few years so I do have some history when I make such a claim.

      In the big sense, MS provides something that only Apple provides, monotony. In this instance, that isn't a bad word.
      • more is few and better is worse?

        >>Separating the GUI and Kernel are exactly the problem with Linux for the desktop. Users don't have expectation of consistency, application compatibility, and therefore they see an uneven user experience.

        I thought this separation is called "modularity" and is one of the corner stones of Information Technology. It also constitutes to "having more choices" principle. I also thought that lock-in, lack of alternatives and competition is [i]conditio sine qua non[/i] for a good quality in a much broader aspect.
        I use qt-based clementine music player that works flawlessly on gtk+-based desktops. I wouldn't be able to tell it's not gtk+, if I did not know it was a fork of kde amarok. What am I doing wrong?
      • Cross purposes

        you are talking at cross purposes.

        Separating out the GUI from the Kernel means that porting to other platforms is easier.

        Linux has gone two stages further, you aren't limited to one GUI library set (Xorg, for example, you also have Xfree86 and a few minor players, such as Visual PostScript), they also allow multiple display managers, such as KDE, Gnome, Unity, Xfce etc., which add to the diversity.

        One of the aims of Windows NT, when it first came out, was de-coupling the Windows Kernel from the GUI, allowing for different display managers to suit different needs and uses. They soon dropped that idea, but NT remained cross platform for many years, although the availability of packaged software for MIPS, Alpha, Itanic etc. was very limited.

        But since 2000, they have concentrated on x86, which means they have a lot of "bad practices" to back out of to get it working on multiple platforms.

        If they had kept the modular base of the original cross platform NT, they wouldn't have so many problems now.
    • Sorry - I don't think Linux is THE model at all....

      That "wrong kernel version" thing, just doesn't work well when you simply want to install something. Linux is great, but there are hundreds, if not thousands of distros to choose from and on top of that you have to fight with the kernel version when you find a distro you actually like.

      And what use is being 'cross device' without cross compatible applications?

      ... which incidentally is all beside the point, since the Windows Kernel has nothing to do with its GUI at all....
      • Linux on desktop can't compete, not as a standalone OS

        The only place Linux really shines is as a kernel for an integrated device that has its own ecosystem. Thin clients with web-based solutions are one path, tablets with app stores are the other. But Windows will remain the king of generic x86 PCs due to software availability and backward compatibility for a long time to come.
        terry flores
      • more choices is bad?

        >>and on top of that you have to fight with the kernel version when you find a distro you actually like.
        Don't fight with it, build your own. It is easy and it is...possible unlike the nt kernel (or whatever Windows uses)
        Stop copying a Buridan's Ass already!
        • My point was that

          certain software and drivers only work with certain and sometimes EXACT kernel versions, because some module or other depends on such. When you have an os that is divided into distros, with different packaging systems, different repsitories, different sets of dependencies, different desktops and compositors, different file managers and different kernel versiond, yes, as much as I LOVE choices, you just get tired of constantly fighting with your system. I like to experiment, but in Linux experimentation quickly becomes pain.
          • @your ordeal

            >>with different packaging systems, different repsitories, different sets of dependencies, different desktops and compositors, different file managers and different kernel versiond
            Sorry, but your ordeal is hard to understand. Yes indeed: "better is worse and more is fewer" MS Windows has very limited repositories. One echosystem, one package manager can barely handle all 3-d party app installations and updates. Multiple libraries of similar or same functionality in the RAM. Obsolete filesystem. Users are locked-in to one vendor.... What a bliss.
          • I wrote it in english for most peoples benefit

            I don't really see what is hard to understand. Some software and libraries need to be compiled for certain kernel versions in Linux, which is frustrating, when you just spent months trawling all the distros and learning all the packaging systems and tweaking this config and that config, only to have the whole system rendered nigh on useless because you wanted to install vmware and an Nvidia driver. It is needless. Even MS-DOS was not as painful to get right as Linux can be. How is that hard to understand?

            Everything you said about Windows is untrue. Windows does not have an eco system, it has an entire flippin planet and EVERYTHING is available for Windows. Windows has the widest application and library support of any os. Its memory usage is comparable to or less than all but the slimmest of Linux distros. The NTFS file system with ACLs is far more configurable and recoverable than LVM with EXT3/4/JFS. Users are not locked into the vendor at all - it is an operating system, but you are free to buy download and install whatever software you wish, or compile your own from scratch. You can use any available framework, any library, any API without restriction. Let's not even mention the powerful tools included for power users such as power shell, WMI, VBScript, or the fact that the GUI administration tools just blow anything else out of the way completely. Your point, if there was one, is way off....
    • Bad choice of words?

      "W8 as it stands is just a horrible compromise that falls between stools"

      What kind of stools do you mean?
      • The Toilet...... second door on the left.
        Alan Smithie
    • No Suffering.

      Think about it. There is more then enough Windows to go around. Win7 for those who have no interest in Win8, Win8 for those who like it or want it, and its clear there are a lot of those, despite the few nay sayers, Windows RT for those who just want a toy like the iPad, only based on Windows.

      Plenty for all. No Suffering at all.
    • there is no way

      to make these changes without losing legacy support. x86 is the platform of desktops and laptops and it always has been. There is no way to make things cross platform without doing using real time compliation based (VM) languages like java and HTML5 which have serious performance issues and software limitations (since not everything is available on every architecture/platform, etc).
    • No HP = No Loss

      Is the a business case for the iPag, even though business said there wasn't and it was not backwards compatible?


      So there's a business case for Windows RT. It's here to stay. I for one am happy to see companies like HP stay away. It gives more support to ordering from quality hardware manufacturers and not companies stuck in 2005.

      We're seeing the start of the post PC error and strangely enough companies like Microsoft and Apple are going to survive, while companies like HP and Dell are going to be the ones waving goodbye. Someone will come in and break HP up and seel off the pieces. Some smart asian company will buy the hardware devision for a song and start another Lenovo.
      • Exactly! In addition . . .

        maybe the post PC era means HP, Dell, etc. need to focus on the backend enterprise market and cloud computing and let MS handle the consumer focused devices. The time has come for MS to set the path for its future in the consumer space. It's unfortunate that MS isn't going to be more aggressive with the retail channel supporting Surface. WinRT will do fine. My guess is that MS has WinRT being managed by AD in the labs and is simply waiting for the right time to release this feature. For now though, it needs to be a 100% consumer focused device that plays well with general bring your tablet to work where AD integration is not an absolute must.
        • Why HP?

          I understand your comments seemed to be more about windows8, and I'm just curious why you see HP as such a 'has been'? I'll be honest, I don't watch the news or financial sector much anymore, actually, I don't ever watch it; so if HP is having financial issues, then don't read any further. About six months ago, I felt like purchasing a new printer. I was so sick of HP b/c that was all I ever had purchased (even though I never had any issues with HP), so I decided to purchase something different just for the hell of it. I noticed Lexmark ink was extremely cheap (like $5-$7 for standard package of black ink) so I purchased a Lexmark Pinnacle Pro or Platinum Pro at sams club. Took it back 1 wk later, when I couldn't even get it to print and they had all kinds of issues with the printer driver. Next, I purchased a Cannon $275-$300 range for all 3 of these printers I am discussing. Couldn't connect it to my wireless network even after talking to IT folks half a dozen times, but at least they did give me a full refund (Cannon) because they knew there was an issue they could not fix. Then, purchased a Kodak after hearing good reviews, and I decided to pay a technician to set it up thinking maybe I was missing something. He spent the entire afternoon on the phone with Kodak's IT folks, and he was not able to get it installed after being here for 5 hours. He suggested there was an issue with that particular printer and offered to bring another one the following day. No thanks. So, I went to an office store, purchased an HP office jet 8600 Pro, took it out of box, turned it on, it found my network in a few seconds and did the complete set up, even the web services and eprint section in less than an hour. It does everything I need, even saves faxes electronically to my cloud drive, holds 500 sheet of paper at a time (or 2 sets of 250) and I've had not a single issue. I went thru all that trouble just because MY PERCEPTION of HP was they were too monotonous, consistent, boring....even though I'd never had an issue with any HP product. I decided to look at their laptops after this experience, wasn't even aware they had the i-series chips until I actually gave them a look. I personally own Mac's, but I have to purchase an employee a PC and I found one completely loaded with an i-7 on sale for less than $600, and I will pick it up before the sale ends. Who know, maybe it won't be worth the money, but I'm obviously betting it's going to be especially when you compare it to my last two Laptops (lenovo and acer). I think HP is a strong company and been very consistent and I think they are going to continue their dominance in the printer industry and start taking more of the PC market share, and I think they are smart to hold out on the Windows 8 support. It will hurt Microsoft about as much as it would hurt Alistair Overeem's gut from one of Bill Gate's best punches. Regardless, it's market share that has opportunity to try the competition and be gone forever.
  • strange advice

    "If you're an OEM such as HP you really have no reason to hop on the Windows RT bandwagon prematurely."

    Planning cycles for logistics do not account for this. Just because you are seeing the product for the first time does not mean that OEMs, ODMS, CEMs, and everyone else in between has not already been working on it for months. HP is [i]already in[/i] or it is sitting it out altogether. Since HP cannot cede the market to Lenovo or Dell, it is most likely in.
    Your Non Advocate
    • Maybe

      In the back of my mind I get this feeling HP might sit out RT if only because they won't want to get into small margin tablets like Google, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble. That leaves them deciding for a consumption device price range (iPad/likely Surface) vs. all-around device. I think they would have more like going against Surface Pro and other full Windows 8 things since plenty of their customers will want 8 instead of RT. I don't know of any family or friends that still own an HP computer.

      That said, if you turn a profit it seems like a company would want that. So if margins are such they can be competitively priced with the low-end or iPad/Surface-likely crowds, I think they'll have one.
    • HP is sitting it out, already noted in several blogs

      They can definitely "cede the market" if staying in means being unprofitable. Microsoft took a big risk in competing against their own partners, now they have to make it a success on their own, they won't get any help from anybody else.
      terry flores