News agency Bloomberg claims that Microsoft is set to announce a version of Windows for the ARM microprocessor at the Consumer Electronics Show in January.
Bloomberg cited “two people familiar with Microsoft’s plans” but didn’t elaborate on what type of Windows product the supposed new ARM compatible version would be.
Microsoft had previously said that the firm was “hardcore” about bringing Windows to the tablet market and promised that Windows 7-based tablets would appear before the end of the year. Other than some obscure enterprise devices, they have generally failed to appear.
One of the challenges Microsoft faces is the reliance on the Intel architecture. Even Intel’s lowest power processors, the Atom range, are a far cry from ARM in terms of power consumption and the ultimate expense of the hardware solution.
Rather than selling a CPU chip, British technology outfit ARM licenses processor cores which can be then used inside highly integrated chips from firms such as Qualcomm, TI, Samsung, Apple and Nvidia.
An ARM-based Windows would dramatically expand upon the possible hardware platforms although such a feat would not be without challenges. ARM processors are typically just 1GHz in speed and rely on highly optimised operating systems.
While the dual core ARM designs are now being touted as well as higher clock speeds, this is still a lot less horsepower than Microsoft typically enjoys.
The Wall Street Journal cited other unnamed sources, backing up the Bloomberg story while adding that the move was part of a plan to make Windows more modular so that only the appropriate sections could be deployed for suitable devices.
Presumably stripped of unnecessary desktop computing components and resource hogging services, Microsoft will be hoping Windows ARM will be nimble enough to pose a real threat to iOS and Android.