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Microsoft Corp. said that the claim by Intel Corp. earlier this week that the versions of Microsoft Windows for ARM processors would not run older programs and would also be generally incompatible between themselves were not correct. Nonetheless, the software giant did not reveal any new peculiarities about its forthcoming Windows 8 and how it will maintain compatibility with software that relies on x86.

"Intel’s statements during yesterday’s Intel Investor Meeting about Microsoft’s plans for the next version of Windows were factually inaccurate and unfortunately misleading. From the first demonstrations of Windows on [ARM] SoC, we have been clear about our goals and have emphasized that we are at the technology demonstration stage. As such, we have no further details or information at this time," a statement by Microsoft reads.

ARM, whose technologies power the vast majority of mobile phones, has been gaining importance in the recent years. The world's largest software developer Microsoft early this year said that its forthcoming Windows 8 would be compatible with ARM chips. Still, keeping in mind that all the software available today has been written for x86 solutions by AMD and Intel, compatibility with Windows does not give ARM-powered SoCs immediate advantages over x86. Moreover, earlier this week Intel said that there would be a number of incompatibilities between even the operating systems for ARM chips.

"The version designed for Intel chips will run older Windows programs. The ARM versions won’t run older programs. They will be tailored to mobile devices and tablet computers and there will also be a version for Intel chips to address that market. [...] There will be four Windows 8 SoCs for ARM. Each one will run for that specific ARM environment, and they will run new applications or cloud-based applications... They are neither forward- nor backward-compatible between their own architecture – different generations of a single vendor – nor are they compatible across different vendors. Each one is a unique stack," said Renee James, head of Intel’s software business, according to a number of media reports.

At present x86 has no distinct advantages on the mobile market, given the fact that is not compatible with Google Android, Apple iOS or Windows Phone. But at the same time ARM does not have advantages on the segment of fully-fledged personal computers since it cannot and will not be able to run complex software. The emergence of both architectures on non-traditional markets will likely cause incompatibilities on different platforms, the main question is how serious will they be.

Tags: Microsoft, Windows, x86, Intel

Discussion

Comments currently: 2
Discussion started: 05/22/11 11:37:43 AM
Latest comment: 06/03/11 08:45:48 AM

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1. 
This article is factually incorrect on a number of points:

1) At present x86 has no distinct advantages on the mobile market, given the fact that is not compatible with Google Android, Apple iOS or Windows Phone.

As it is based on Linux, Android runs perfectly well on ix86 processors. Google TV for example is Android on ix86. The problem for ix86 on mobiles or tablets is that they consume too much power. This is the result of the baggage that ix86 carries in having to run legacy Windows code including fossilised code going back to earlier versions of the architecture.

2) The emergence of both architectures on non-traditional markets will likely cause incompatibilities on different platforms.

No incompatibilities for Android because Android code runs on architecture independent Dalvik VM code. There will be serious problems for Windows which will require code to be rewritten and recompiled for ARM. While Microsoft will be willing to put in the effort to do this for Windows and MS Office, third party software vendors will not see this effort as being worthwhile until a large proportion of Windows users are already on the ARM architecture. The result of this is that you will have an ARM version of Windows which nobody will buy because it has no third party applications. This is the reason why every previous port of Windows to a non ix86 architecture has failed.
0 0 [Posted by: SMP  | Date: 05/22/11 11:37:43 AM]
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2. 
Microsoft has had a desktop OS that runs on ARM for years. It's called CE. It's just as easy to write applications for CE as it is to write them for Windows 7, the APIs are almost the same and the development tools are the same.

.Net applications can run on Win 7 and CE without a recompile if they are limited to the features of CE.
0 2 [Posted by: user99  | Date: 06/03/11 08:45:48 AM]
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