In a blog post published Thursday morning, Steven Sinofsky, President of Microsoft’s Windows division, provided a lengthy overview of how Windows 8 would function on ARM devices, assuring potential users that the product will “look and feel just like you expect”.
“Windows on ARM enables creativity in PC design that, in combination with newly architected features of the Windows OS, will bring to customers new, no-compromise PCs,” wrote Mr.Sinofsky.
Microsoft’s new-found enthusiasm for putting Windows on the ARM architecture creates a partnership with existing mobile chip market leaders NVIDIA, Qualcomm, and Texas Instruments. It also has the potential to sour relationships with Intel and AMD – x86/64 chip manufacturers – as both of these companies are working to expand their mobile and low power consumption offerings.
“Windows on ARM builds on the foundation of Windows, has a very high degree of commonality and very significant shared code with Windows 8, and will be developed for, sold, and supported as part of the largest computing ecosystem in the world.”
Windows on ARM will ship with a desktop version of Microsoft’s next generation Office suite, known as Office 15. It will also include a full featured version of Internet Explorer 10, complete with hardware acceleration for HTML 5.
While Windows 8 on the ARM platform, also known as WOA in technical circles, won’t be able to run existing x86/64 desktop applications it will be able to run Metro style applications from the Windows Store created using the WinRT API.
Mr. Sinofsky wrote that users who want to primarily run existing x86/64 applications would be better served using Windows 8 on that platform. WOA is more geared towards users considering purchasing a non-Windows platform such as an Android tablet.
“If you’re already considering a non-Windows device, then we think WOA will be an even better alternative when you consider the potential of form factors, peripherals, Windows Store apps (and developer platform), and Office applications as well as a broad set of intrinsic Windows capabilities.”
“WOA will not support any type of virtualization or emulation approach, and will not enable existing x86/64 applications to be ported or run,” Mr.Sinofsky wrote.
Because of ARM’s low power requirements, WOA PCs will have a battery lifespan similar to tablets or high powered smartphones. Mr. Sinofsky went as far to claim that you won’t have to turn off a WOA PC, stating that they would have power cycles more similar to a smartphone or tablet.
“WOA PCs will not have the traditional hibernate and sleep options with which we are familiar,” he wrote.
“Instead, WOA PCs always operate in the newly designed Connected Standby power mode, similar to the way you use a mobile phone today. When the screen is on, you have access to the full power and capabilities of the WOA PC. When the screen goes dark (by pressing the power button or timer), the PC enters a new, very low-power mode that enables the battery to last for weeks.”
Mr. Sinofsky says that Microsoft will be making WOA development machines available to developers at the end of February, about he same time the consumer preview of Windows 8 is available.
“WOA PCs are still under development and our collective goal is for PC makers to ship them the same time as PCs designed for Windows 8 on x86/64.”