Tag Archives | ARM

Apple Moving Macs to ARM? If History is Any Guide, That’s…Entirely Plausible

A Web site with the wonderful name SemiAccurate is reporting that it’s a “done deal” that Apple will dump Intel chips for ones based on the ARM architecture used in most smartphones and tablets, including the iPhone and iPad–and it’ll do it “as soon as possible.” I tend to be skeptical about rumors of great big news that come from not-so-well-known sites. But I’m nowhere near as skeptical as VentureBeat’s Devindra Hardawar:

Seems to me that there are several factors that make a Mac move to ARM plausible, or least very far from unthinkable…

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CES 2011: Yup, Microsoft is Bringing Windows to ARM Chips

Steve Ballmer’s CES keynote isn’t until 6:30pm PT tonight–I’ll be liveblogging it–but Microsoft already made news today at an afternoon press event by confirming the Wall Street Journal’s report that it’s working on a version of Windows that will run on the ARM chips widely used in phones, tablets, set-top boxes and other computing devices that aren’t PCs, as well as competitive x86 system-on-a-chip designs from Intel and AMD. Windows honcho Steven Sinofksy did some demos of Windows (and Office, and IE) running on test boards powered by these processors, and said that the system requirements of phones and the system requirements of PCs are starting to converge, and that his demos were of “the next generation of Windows,” which he refused to call Windows 8. He also showed a new version of Microsoft’s Surface table build by Samsung and based on all-new technology.

And that’s about all he did–he cheerfully announced that he wasn’t talking about the user interface of the new Windows or when it might ship. More thoughts later…


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Windows on ARM? Logical. Windows on ARM in 2013? That's an Eternity from Now

Numerous news sources are reporting that Microsoft plans to demo a version of Windows that runs on low-power ARM chips–rather than the x86 processors that Windows has been (mostly) synonymous with since its inception–at CES next month. Here are reports from Ian King and Dina Bass of Bloomberg, Don Clark and Nick Wingfield of the Wall Street Journal, and Ina Fried of All Things D.

I was startled by the news–until I thought it over, whereupon it didn’t seem so surprising any more. For decades, x86 processors (mostly from Intel and AMD) have been inside most computers that mattered, and so the fact that Windows ran on them was a virtue. (In fact, when Microsoft ported Windows NT to other CPUs in the 1990s–DEC’s Alpha and MIPS–the new versions turned out to be irrelevant, and so the company pulled the plug.)

But what happens if tablets and other new-wave computing devices become serious rivals to traditional PCs? x86 as it stands today isn’t especially well-suited to tablets, since it wasn’t designed from the ground up for energy efficiency and small form factors. (That was supposedly one reason why HP pretty much lost interest in its own Windows tablet and bought Palm’s Web OS.)

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A Windows Phone 7 Tablet? It's Possible–and a Good Idea

There is a lot of speculation about what the agreement announced today between chip designer ARM and Microsoft actually means. Some pundits predict that it is a signal that Microsoft intends to deliver Windows or Windows Phone OS tablet and slate devices, while others foresee an overdue overhaul of the Xbox’s architecture.

I’m keen on the idea of a tablet based upon Windows Phone 7. For too long, Microsoft has relied upon grafting Windows onto smaller form factors: “Oh wow, a stylus.” The success of Apple’s less feature-rich iPad proves that it was the wrong approach. Customers want an operating envrionment that works well for their devices, meaning it should be designed with the device in mind. A tablet-friendly version of Windows Phone 7 would fit the bill.

Microsoft very boldly hit the reset button and abandoned all elements of Windows with the Windows Phone OS’s “Metro” interface. I’ve used it, and like it very much. Metro was compelling enough that I was tempted to see whether I would actually give up my iPhone if I started to a use Windows Phone powered device.

If Microsoft focuses on Windows Embedded Compact instead of Windows Phone, it will be making a big, big mistake. It’s time for a consistent and quality mobile experience from Microsoft. That means apps that work across devices and an interface that works. Windows Phone uses SIlverlight; those apps should work on Windows tablets with little adjustment on the part of developers.

The glaringly obvious problem with that scenario is that I can buy an iPhone today, and Windows Phone 7 is still many months away from production. Let’s hope Microsoft learns from past mistakes,. I just hope it’s not too late .


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