SOFTWARE FLOGGER Microsoft has discounted claims made by a senior Intel executive that Windows 8 on ARM will not run older applications.
Renée James, SVP and GM of Intel's software and services group claimed that Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system for the ARM architecture won't be able to run older applications. The comments were made during a presentation at Intel's investor event. They flew in the face of Microsoft's claims and demonstrations that showed that it already had applications working on a very early beta of Windows 8 for ARM.
James also claimed there will be four versions of Windows 8 for ARM processors, adding that applications would not be compatible even across chip vendors. During James' presentation, she pointed out that Intel's architecture allows applications that run on Windows on the desktop to work seamlessly with Windows on any other Intel chip.
James' comments were startling to say the least. Microsoft demonstrated a very early beta of Windows 8 running on ARM-based chips at CES with applications such as Microsoft Word and Internet Explorer, and even emphasised how little work it had to do in order to get the operating system and applications working. Given that this was a very early beta, the swish demonstration was pretty impressive and it seems to discredit James' claims.
So it is no big surprise to learn that Microsoft has strongly contradicted Intel's claims in a fiery statement to The INQUIRER.
"Intel's statements during yesterday's Intel Investor Meeting about Microsoft's plans for the next version of Windows were factually inaccurate and unfortunately misleading. From the first demonstrations of Windows on SoC [system-on-chip], we have been clear about our goals and have emphasized that we are at the technology demonstration stage. As such, we have no further details or information at this time."
Intel might have a point if developers have to modify their code slightly if they want to run in a native Windows 8 ARM mode. However it is more than likely Microsoft will include some sort of virtual machine in order to maintain software compatibility, in the same way that Apple still allows code designed for PowerPC Macs to run on Macs that have Intel x86 chips.
Intel might have realised that it doesn't need to cosy up with Microsoft anymore. After all, the traditional desktop operating system seems to be making way for web browser based applications and the action in the IT industry seems to be moving from PCs to mobile devices. Of course Microsoft won't disappear overnight but it's safe to say that in the next few years the firm's decades old PC operating system model will be overtaken by operating systems that are primarily based on the Linux kernel.
So while James' comments might be surprising given Intel and Microsoft's close relationship, they could be motivated by the realisation that Microsoft simply doesn't have the pull, or the future, that it once did. µ