Microsoft’s Windows chief Steven Sinofsky set out the firm’s plans for Windows 8 on ARM processors, dubbed WOA, revealing an ARM version of Microsoft’s ubiquitous Office suite.
Sinofsky rather diplomatically pointed out that the firm was devoting an "equally strong commitment" to x86-based processors and also called Windows on Arm a ‘new member of the Windows family" rather than simply an ARM-version of Windows 8.
‘WOA’ will not, Sinofsky, stated unequivocally, run existing x86 desktop applications, neither can they be directly ported nor x86 code run under emulation. Instead, WOA will only run new Windows 8 ‘Metro style’ apps which will be effectively processor agnostic.
Another revelation is that the ARM-based Windows will bundle versions of Microsoft’s popular productivity software, to be called Office 15, including Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. Microsoft’s strategy, it seems, is to divert attention away from the drawback of not being able to run existing software by bundling what seems likely to be the most fully featured productivity software on ARM.
Sinofsky confirmed that the ‘consumer preview’ of Windows 8 would be released by the end of February but this will be x86-only.
"We changed the name of the beta because recently the term has come to mean something very different than just a ‘testing release available for free to try out,’ so we did not want to add to the confusion."
As regards to Windows 8 ARM, Microsoft is set to make available a number of development PCs equipped with WOA which will be made available to developers. Anticipating the inevitable press coverage of the development machines, Sinofsky took pains to point out that these were development tools, designed to be easily opened and made of "low-cost plastic" and that they should not be taken to "represent WOA and the experience."
Sinofsky also described a rather more phone-like route to market than the traditional Windows variety. No end-user installable version of WOA will be available but rather it will come pre-installed on existing ARM-based PCs. Such PC labels will be clearly "labelled and branded" to avoid being confused with a standard x86 Windows 8 PC.