Finally: on ARM
Over a year after vaguely announcing that it would provide versions of Windows 8 on the ARM platform, Microsoft today provided detailed information about its plans. The post answers lingering questions about Windows 8 on ARM, including whether users will be able to access the legacy Explorer desktop.
The only major remaining question, really, is what took so long?
"With Windows 8, we have reimagined Windows from the chipset to the experience, and bringing this reimagined Windows to the ARM processor architecture is a significant part of this innovation," Microsoft's Steven Sinofsky writes in what is arguably the most important post yet to the Building Windows 8 Blog. "Expanding the view of the PC to cover a much wider range of form factors and designs than some think of today is an important part of these efforts. Windows on ARM enables creativity in PC design that, in combination with newly architected features of the Windows OS, will bring to customers new, no-compromise PCs."
Key points in the post (in Mr. Sinofsky's words) include:
Windows on ARM, or WOA, is a new member of the Windows family, much like Windows Server, Windows Embedded, or Windows Phone.
Using WOA “out of the box” will feel just like using Windows 8 on x86/64. You will sign in the same way. You will start and launch apps the same way. You will use the new Windows Store the same way. You will have access to the intrinsic capabilities of Windows, from the new Start screen and Metro style apps and Internet Explorer, to peripherals, and if you wish, the Windows desktop with tools like Windows File Explorer and desktop Internet Explorer. It will have the same fast and fluid experience.
Desktop running on Windows 8 ARM
WOA PCs are still under development and our collective goal is for PC makers to ship them the same time as PCs designed for Windows 8 on x86/64.
Metro style apps in the Windows Store can support both WOA and Windows 8 on x86/64. (We already knew this. --Paul)
WOA does not support running, emulating, or porting existing x86/64 desktop apps. (We already knew this as well. --Paul)
Consumers obtain all software, including device drivers, through the Windows Store and Microsoft Update or Windows Update.
WOA includes desktop versions of the new Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote in Office 15. (This is HUGE. --Paul)
Around the next milestone release of Windows 8 on x86/64, a limited number of test PCs will be made available to developers and hardware partners in a closed, invitation-only program.
The Windows Consumer Preview, the beta of Windows 8 on x86/64, will be available for download by the end of February. This next milestone of Windows 8 will be available in several languages and is open for anyone to download. (We already knew this too, but it's worth repeating. --Paul)
There's more, but I think that's the majors news. I'll keep reading....