Windows on the Run
A Microsoft operating system product (that we can't call Windows 8 because that won't be its name) has been shown running on ARM and system-on-a-chip hardware in a briefing at the CES Show. This marks the first move away from Intel as Microsoft's lead hardware partner since the dawn of the PC.
ARM hardware powers a huge range of mobile and portable hardware including mobile phones, tablets and embedded devices. Naturally, Microsoft firmly pledged allegiance to Intel (and AMD), but with huge numbers of ARM devices being sold, it may only be a few years before they are relegated to the junior partners in this hardware arena.
Somewhere in the near future, this means persistent state Windows with instant booting and other features that we now take for granted from Tablet-based iOS and Android systems.
Microsoft's next operating system will make lots of new friends
Microsoft demonstrated some hardware from the likes of NVIDIA, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments using ARM architecture. Not only will this innovation mean a wider range of types of hardware for Windows to support, getting it back into a game that Windows 7 has little hope of winning, but will mean that the next Windows will be provided to a whole new market of consumers.
On the practical side, the demo showed off hardware-accelerated graphics and media playback, hardware-accelerated Web browsing with the latest version of Internet Explorer, USB device support, printing and other features. What this means for current systems like Windows Phone 7 and Microsoft's wide variety of Windows versions in future remains to be seen.
Code compilation issues and many other developer questions aside, MIcrosoft has promised a compatible version of MS Office. We would expect SharePoint and other major products to follow suit, but will the full desktop range follow to the tablet/mobile world?