Microsoft Clarifies: Windows 8 on ARM Won’t Support x86 Apps
The newly re-clarified fact that Windows 8 on ARM won’t support x86 may hardly come as a surprise to some, especially The VAR Guy. But apparently, there was some clarification needed. Microsoft’s President of the Windows division, Steven Sinofsky, has confirmed that Windows 8 on ARM will be a slightly different experience than what users on x86 platforms are used to. Here’s why …
According to InformationWeek, Sinofsky has once again clarified Microsoft’s stance on ARM-based Windows 8 PCs. Quite simply put, no software written for the ARM version of Windows 8 will run on an x86 platform, and vice versa. ARM Windows 8 tablets most definitely will not run older versions of Windows Applications. It’s simply not sound computing.
Sinofsky said built-in cross compatibility was not something Microsoft was going to do natively, because it believes in building and optimizing software for the device. (Hmm, sounds a lot like Apple?) Sinofsky offered some more practical reasons why Microsoft wouldn’t have cross-CPU pollination …
“If we allow the world of x86 application support … on what we call desktop apps … then there are real challenges in some of the value proposition for [ARM] System on a Chip. Will battery life be as good, for example? Those applications aren’t written to be really great in the face of limited battery constraints, which is a value proposition of the Metro-style apps.”
Again, The VAR Guy isn’t surprised, but it certainly raises some questions about Microsoft’s big happy Windows 8 developmental family. Developers that mainly only build Windows 8 applications could find it easy to compile two different versions of the programs with Microsoft’s tools. But this also may create two Windows 8 camps, and that creates product fragmentation and potentially confusion. Could Mom and Pop looking for a Windows 8 tablet suddenly realize they’ve bought the wrong kind of Windows tablet because it doesn’t run a legacy desktop application they love or need?
There’s a plethora of scenarios and speculations our resident blogger could provide for you, but again, it’s too soon to tell. The developers at BUILD were given an x86 tablet, and it’s likely that the x86 version of Windows 8 will be the reigning champion. But if Microsoft’s (and subsequently developers’) efforts put ARM on the back burner, why develop for it at all? Devs already are working on Windows Phone 7 apps, which itself is a slightly different platform. Does that mean Microsoft will have three major different platforms to develop for when Windows 8 arrives?
Until we have solid facts on Windows 8 devices and release times, The VAR Guy is just pontificating. But all these questions are worth asking, especially if Windows 8 is to be a success, and even more so when it comes time for VARs and MSPs to deploy and support these devices.