Industry sources have revealed that the ARM version of Windows 8 has grown to become a lot more stable, since Microsoft demoed it at CES 2012, and should be in the hands of developers sometime in February. This came from a source who managed to get some hands-on time with a high-profile device from a big brand (no names were revealed for obvious reasons) and came out impressed at how stable and smooth Windows 8 was on ARM. This means we can expect some prototype devices to show up at MWC, next month.
Now, running stable on ARM
Windows 8 is the biggest jump for Microsoft, since Windows 3.0, as for the very first time it will have full support for ARM devices. Most mobile devices, today are based on ARM devices, which outnumber Intel and AMD devices. Amongst all of this, there’s a storm brewing between Intel and ARM in the notebooks segment, as ARM-based devices are going to be quite a bit cheaper than Intel-based ones, spelling trouble for Intel’s Ultrabook series. Besides the competition from AMD with their ‘Ultrathin’ notebooks, ARM-based notebooks should offer similar performance as Intel’s ULV CPUs, but cost manufacturers a lot less to implement. Couple that with better battery life, slimmer and lighter devices and you see how this can severely impact the sales of Intel’s Ultrabooks. Currently, the largest ARM suppliers are Texas Instruments, Qualcomm and Nvidia. According to one source, Windows 8 is running just fine on two of these platforms.
However, there is one area where Intel still has the upper hand and is only too happy to be pointing that out; support for legacy apps. You see, while the OS may run stable, you still need applications to work with. The big question is as to how Microsoft’s Office runs on ARM, which no one seems to have seen, yet and Microsoft doesn’t want to comment on this right now as well. Other than some of the Metro apps that seem to be running smoothly (mostly because they are based on HTML 5), it’ll be sometime till we see all our other third-party applications ported over to ARM. The success and adoption of ARM-based Window 8 notebooks will entirely depend on how soon legacy apps are ported over.
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