Windows 8 to run on Intel and ARM platforms, Microsoft says

6 Jan 2011

LAS VEGAS – The head of Windows Live Steve Sinofsky has revealed that the next version of Windows will run on PC and tablet devices that will sport system-on-chip architectures from Intel, AMD and ARM.

“We are making this announcement now to allow greater collaboration across our expanded partner ecosystem so we can bring to market the widest possible set of PCs and devices, from tablets on up, with the next generation of Windows,” Sinofsky explained.

“We’re at a point in engineering the next release of Windows where we are demonstrating our progress and bringing together an even broader set of partners required to deliver solutions to customers.”

Yesterday, Intel CEO Paul Otellini and Intel’s PC client guru Mooly Eden revealed the Second Generation Intel Core Architecture at the Consumer Electronics Show. The new architecture is effectively a system on a chip ecosystem that contains so much functionality that it makes additional discrete electronics, like graphics cards, redundant.

The new era of computing devices will boast console-like gaming experiences, rich video and audio and the ability for content creators to sell content directly to consumers without fear of piracy.

“We’ve reached a point in technology where everyone really does want everything from their computing experience — the power and breadth of software for today’s laptop, the long battery life and always-on promise of a mobile phone, and the possibilities from a new generation of tablets. Bringing these capabilities together to meet customer demand requires innovation in hardware, as well as a flexible, evolving software platform to bring it to life.”

Seven copies of Windows 7 are sold every second

Sinofsky said that NVIDIA, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments are working on SoC designs based on the ARM architecture. Intel and AMD will continue to innovate on the x86 32-bit and 64-bit platforms, including new SoC or low-power systems.

“Windows is thriving on x86 platforms today with Intel and AMD and we will continue to see that success in the future. The market and customer reaction to Windows 7 is a good indicator, with Windows 7 running on over 20pc of all PCs accessing the internet, and still more than seven copies are sold each second since its launch in October 2009.

“Building on that success, Intel and AMD are delivering important innovations on x86 for the future, in areas like graphics and performance, in addition to their new work on low-power systems. Intel’s 2nd Generation Intel Core Processor family announcements and AMD’s Fusion APUs announcements at CES are great examples of this continued progress.

“The x86 32-bit and 64-bit platforms and Windows, together, provide the capability for even more powerful, new scenarios to emerge at a rapid pace. Of course, we continue to partner strongly with Intel and AMD to deliver great solutions for customers across the broadest range of computing devices.”

ARM processors have been instrumental in the success of both Apple iOS devices and Google’s Android devices. Microsoft’s move in the direction of ARM suggests it, too, wants to be part of the new versatile computing age defined by tablets and smartphones.

“OEMs are delivering great designs and personalised selection across the wide range of PCs, including convertibles, gaming rigs, all-in-ones, ultraportables, everyday laptops, and tablet PCs. We know we’ll see additional waves of hardware innovation over the next several seasons, as well, and we look forward to continuing to work closely with our partners,” Sinofsky said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years