Intel revealed that Microsoft may release both an ARM-based and x86-based Windows 8 and also plans to introduce more than 10 tablets which run on its processors.
Speaking at the Intel's Investor Meeting 2011 in Santa Clara, California, Renée James, general manager of Intel's software and services group, revealed that Windows 8 version will be available for both ARM and Intel x86 architecture, reported The Register.
Windows 8 running atop ARM will not run legacy applications while the x86-based Windows 8 will support legacy apps. The Windows 8 on ARM is primarily targeted at mobile and tablet platforms.
Intel, however, is not losing sleep over Microsoft's move to ARM architecture as it purports that having a Windows 8 on x86 which also runs legacy apps, plays to Intel's advantage. It claims that since none of its competitors will run Windows 8 with legacy app support, Intel will have a distinct advantage and competency.
Since the Windows 8 x86 has been crafted to run on multiple devices, Intel hopes that it has a gamut of devices under its umbrella than just mobiles and tablets. The Register quoted James as stating: You can run the same application between different versions of our architecture - between Atom, between Xeon, between Core - which is not the case for our competitors in the ARM ecosystem.
Microsoft announced its plans for ARM Windows 8 in January. Microsoft's announcement said: Microsoft Corp. today announced at 2011 International CES that the next version of Windows will support System on a Chip (SoC) architectures, including ARM-based systems from partners NVIDIA Corp., Qualcomm Inc. and Texas Instruments Inc. On the x86 architecture, Intel Corporation and AMD continue their work on low-power SoC designs that fully support Windows, including support for native x86 applications.
Bloomberg reported that Microsoft will have multiple versions of Windows 8 with four running on ARM architecture. Multiple SKUs is part of Microsoft's strategy to target customers at every level. Winrumors reported in April that Windows 8 ARM offering will include Starter, Home Basic and Premium, Professional, Enterprise versions.
WSJ reported that Intel also plans to unveil 10 new tablets which the company plans to showcase at the upcoming trade show Computex in Taiwan.
Intel is struggling to leave a mark in the tablet and smartphone landscape where ARM-based chips are ruling the roost. Intel is pitching its hopes on its tablet-specific Atom processors. Intel announced in April that it will start shipping its tablet-specific Atom Z670 processor which brings in improved battery performance and enhanced video capabilities.
The new Atom Z670 chip can support platforms like Google Android, MeeGo and Windows. The chip is 60 percent smaller than the earlier generation of processors and also offers faster processing, better video playback and improved battery life. The new chip also supports 1080p video playback.
Over 35 devices based on Oak Trail platform from companies like Fujitsu, Lenovo, Motion Computing and Viliv are due in 2011.
Also in the fray is AMD as DigiTimes reported in April that Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) is recruiting talent for the development of Android driver software indicating the chipset vendor is also likely to offer notebook/tablet PC partners chipset solutions supporting the Android platform. AMD is hiring staff especially for creating Android drivers for its Fusion line of chips as it wants to diversify into the ever-growing tablet and smartphone market.
Microsoft's decision to tap the ARM architecture is primarily driven by the fact that most of the current breed of Windows tablets running on Intel chips return poor battery life, are clunkier and heavy. The tablet landscape has been altered with the launch of Apple's slimmer and lighter iPad 2, a format which has been followed by Samsung as well in its ultra-slim tablets - Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and 8.9.
ARM architecture will allow Microsoft to address the battery life and design issues in the upcoming tablets.