Fancy running Windows 8 on your iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, or HTC, Motorola, Samsung, LG Android mobile devices? If statement by Intel is correct, your dream may come true with the launch of Windows 8 that will be available in multiple flavors, including versions that support ARM-based devices, the processor that used in most mobile phone devices in the market.
Renne James, Intel Senior Vice President of Sales and Service group, confirmed during Intel’s Investor Meeting 2011 keynote event, that Windows 8 operating system will available in 6 versions designed for both Intel-based (including AMD) x86 and x64 (dubbed “traditional” version) plus ARM-based hardware architecture. Microsoft had announced in early 2011 during CES that Windows 8 will run natively on mobile devices and tablets of ARM systems using system-on-a-chip (SoC) architectures from NVIDIA, Qualcomm, and Texas Instruments.
There will be at least 4 different versions of Windows 8 for ARM available, as each version of Windows for ARM has to be specially written for a specific chip, Intel CEO Paul Otellini explained at the meeting. It’s unclear if Windows for ARM will be available in different editions. The desktop PC version of Windows has typically sold in different editions with higher end and pricier editions contains more features and functions.
In addition, Intel also mentioned that Windows for ARM platform will not be able to run legacy applications, apps that do not support Windows 8 literally. Microsoft provides Windows user with compatibility mode for users to run legacy programs. With arrival of Windows 8, a compatibility mode for Windows 7 will automatically make its inclusion as one of the choice for compatibility mode. Since Windows 7, Windows XP Mode is offered for better backward compatibility, where it works as a virtual machine to run legacy software in emulated XP environment. On Windows 8 “traditional”, the similar Windows XP Mode is likely be provided, which may absent from Windows 8 for ARM.
With most ARM-based systems have limited amount of disk space storage, and the fact that system architecture of ARM is different from Intel x86, the availability of such a backward compatibility feature which requires huge amount of space is always in doubt.
Microsoft does not address the issue of interoperability and compatibility between Windows 8 traditional and Windows 8 for ARM, and between different versions of Windows for ARM by licensee, or whether developers will have to recode and port the existing Windows applications to run on Windows 8 for ARM. If there is no compatibility between Windows running on different system architecture, it’s as good as start from fresh state to compete with other mobile operating systems. But Windows 8 for ARM will run new applications or web-based cloud applications.
Windows for ARM SoC is likely to be shipped pre-installed on mobile devices, tablets or even netbooks running ARM chips. But once it’s available, expect it to be hacked by hackers to run on existing devices powered by ARM variant of processor.
While Intel has revealed much about the upcoming Windows 8 operating system, Microsoft decides to take a more secretive approach. Microsoft issued a statement to response to Intel’s revelation by saying that “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 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.”
Windows 8 is expected to available sometime in 2012.
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