Microsoft's week was dominated by news of its upcoming Windows 8, including new details about Windows' expansion to ARM architecture.
week was pretty much all Windows 8, all the time.
Microsoft sent media an invitation to a Windows 8 Consumer Preview-themed
event at this years Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The meeting is
scheduled to take place at 3 p.m. Feb. 29 at the Hotel Miramar, and its widely
expected that the company will unveil the Consumer Preview and (perhaps) make
it available for download at that time.
expected that the release version of Windows 8 will hit the market late in
2012. In a bid to expand Windows reach to tablets and more mobile form
factors, Microsofts engineers have subjected the operating system to some
fairly radical alterations. Chief among them: a start-screen based around
large, colorful tiles linked to applications. That interface conforms to the
same Metro design aesthetic that now underlies many Microsoft properties,
including Windows Phone and the latest Xbox dashboard. In theory, those big
tiles (along with other features such as a mobile-applications storefront) will
facilitate Windows 8s operation on tablets.
By hosting its
Consumer Preview event at the Mobile World Congress, Microsoft is again
re-emphasizing its aim to make Windows 8 a major player in the tablet arena.
There, it will face significant competition from both Apples iPad, currently
the dominant device in the segment, and a burgeoning number of Google Android
executives argue that Windows 8 on tablets will surpass its rivals by virtue of
some heavy-duty functionality. People dont want to compromise on what they
have today, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told the audience at this Januarys
Consumer Electronics Show. They want the best of what they have, and the best
of what they want.
A day after
Microsoft sent that invitation to the Barcelona event, it unleashed a whole
slew of details about Windows on ARM (for which it uses the acronym WOA). By
making the operating system compatible with ARM chipsets, Microsoft can expand
it onto the broad array of tablets that use that particular architecture. For
years, Windows has only proved compatible with x86 hardware.
Sinofsky, president of Microsofts Windows and Windows Live division, used a
Feb. 9 posting on the corporate Building
Windows 8 blog to explain how WOA wouldnt compromise in terms of
productivity. Within the Windows desktop, WOA includes desktop versions of the
new Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote, code-named Office 15, he
wrote. WOA will be a no-compromise product for people who want to have the
full benefits of familiar Office productivity software and compatibility.
also cautioned: WOA will not support any type of virtualization or emulation
approach, and will not enable existing x86/64 applications to be ported or
run. Virtualized or emulated software, apparently, will result in excessive
consumption of system resources like battery life and CPU. If you need to run
existing x86/64 software, then you will be best serviced with Windows 8 on x86/64.
words, for those who want to make a new WOA tablet their primary productivity
platform, the combination of hardware and software could fit their needs, but
those power users with a substantial amount of legacy software might want to
acquire a system based on x86.
been working with a handful of ARM licensees, including Texas Instruments,
Qualcomm and Nvidia; in turn, these firms have been working with hardware
manufactures on the creation of actual devices running WOA. Microsoft wants WOA
devices to ship at the same time as PCs designed for Windows 8 on x86, and is
apparently taking steps to clearly label the respective hardware so potential
buyers can tell them apart.
Nicholas Kolakowski on Twitter
Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.