Intel spreads FUD on ARM based Windows 8

Posted by Charbax – May 21, 2011
Intel spreads FUD
Intel spreads FUD

Intel spreads Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD). It is a practice that Intel is famous for using against competitors when they feel threatened. Intel does it by getting some of their top executives (but usually not the CEO) to say all kinds of negative things about competitors in more or less official setting (you don't always find a video of the event). Intel did the same against AMD. Intel used FUD to slow the One Laptop Per Child revolution to try to control it with their Netbooks. Now that Microsoft is officially working on Windows 8 for ARM, Intel is using FUD against the ARM powered version of Windows 8 that is rumored to be a top priority investment at Microsoft with over 1000 of their top engineers working on full ARM support for Windows 8.

Windows 8 on ARM is the biggest threat to Intel ever.

Here's how I expect Microsoft will solve the software compatibility issue for ARM version of most x86 Windows software to work:

Microsoft will launch the Windows Appstore for Windows 8

I believe the Windows Appstore will be central to Windows 8 on ARM and will provide for functionality that will make software compatibility between ARM and x86 versions of Windows seamless. If you click on an x86 compiled .exe file in Windows on ARM, it will simply link you up with the recompiled ARM version in the Windows Appstore.

This sounds like Piece of Cake, doesn't it?

Quite simply, Microsoft can make a database of .exe file IDs based on hash tags, file size, file names, etc. if such x86 version of an .exe is clicked on, it can offer 3 choices:

1. Download ARM version in Windows 8 Appstore (if available, if not available, Microsoft gets an alert to hurry up and recompile themselves or to contact the developer to make it available, the user can get an alert about the status of ARM support on each app)
2. Launch in Virtualized Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) mode. x86 software virtualization may even be provided by Microsoft in the form of software as a service from the Azure cloud. Meaning, if the .exe is recognized it can instantly be run in this remote desktop virtualization service, otherwise the .exe is uploaded to the server and installed to be virtualized safely from there.
3. Basic x86 software could get emulated.

While Microsoft may not themselves be able to process the recompiling of all Windows .exe apps, they can certainly automatically do it on hundreds of thousands of existing open source Windows x86 apps and they can provide a one-click ARM recompilation software for all Windows app developers, that can take their closed source code, click one button to submit the ARM compiled version in the new ARM based Windows Appstore. Offering developers all kinds of new monetization features in the new Windows 8 Appstore, including also easy ways for users to keep over on ARM their eventual already purchased x86 software licence.

Short of launching a direct competitor to Chrome OS (could Microsoft launch an Azure OS?), Microsoft will likely make of cloud grid computing in combination with cloud virtual desktop a new type of service with ARM based Windows 8. I see it like that, I think Microsoft can provide APIs for app developers to hook into the Azure cloud to accelerate processing and rendering features. For example, the ARM version of Photoshop could render images automatically through the cloud, or the ARM version of Avid could also use a grid of cloud servers to speed up encoding. And user's software licences, and user data, could be in general stored on the cloud, and Internet Explorer on ARM would be fully optimized for full HTML5 online/offline/native/3D accelerated web apps support.

This is how Ubuntu on ARM has about 100% of all the same Ubuntu Software Center apps available for Ubuntu on both ARM and x86, over 30 thousand apps are available to run fully on the ARM version of Ubuntu. It really is a piece of cake to recompile an app from x86 to ARM support, no need to require only the use of emulation or virtualization although those tricks will also be there.

Following is a video demonstrating Microsoft's RemoteFX Virtual Desktop Infrastructure technology running on a Texas Instruments BeagleBoard xM ARM Cortex-A8 platform. Consider the VDI technology that Microsoft probably is working on for Windows 8 on ARM is probably to use some of these Virtualization features and serve them when needed from the Azure cloud, thus no need for local servers taking care of things. The VDI tricks can also be considered as temporary as the optimal thing is for all the apps, even advanced games to be ported to native ARM support. Though the hardware and cloud based VDI as well as hardware accelerated emulation are temporary solutions during this transition away from x86.

Microsoft supposedly has over 1000 engineers working on Windows 8 for ARM, it's a big project. It'll actually bring up desktop/laptop computing to also work in Smartphones and Tablets, it'll be a bunch of user interface tools for that.

With ARM chips being "fast enough" to run most Laptops, Desktops, Servers, Set-top-boxes, the truth is ARM is becoming the biggest threat to Intel's core business.

  • Pingback: Ecco come Microsoft potrebbe risolvere la questione della… « highlightsaber()

  • Pingback: Ecco come Microsoft potrebbe risolvere la questione della compatibilità per la(e) versione(i) ARM di Windows 8 « highlightsaber()

  • You completely missed .NET. Every CIL-Binary that does not use native code won’t need to be recompiled, it will just run fine on any architecure. Many apps developed in the last years use .NET already.
    Ubuntu’s support for ARM can’t be compared to the one Windows will have. Ubuntu has the complete source code of all apps and this source is mostly developed with compatibility in mind. 

  • Pingback: Ecco come Microsoft potrebbe risolvere la questione della… « highlightsaber()

  • Jomunoz

    x86 emulation would be a great feature,  it would be interesting to know how Microsoft is handling that issue.
    Anyway, Microsoft should look to match the release of Windows 8 for ARM to match the release of Cortex-A15 devices, it they do it earlier Windows 8 running on Cortex-A9 or A8 would be considered slow and disappointing.

  • Jomunoz

    x86 emulation would be a great feature,  it would be interesting to know how Microsoft is handling that issue.
    Anyway, Microsoft should look to match the release of Windows 8 for ARM to match the release of Cortex-A15 devices, it they do it earlier Windows 8 running on Cortex-A9 or A8 would be considered slow and disappointing.

  • Cortex-A15 prototypes will be shown early next year for commercial release by the end of next year, though there are also very fast Dual-core 1.6Ghz and Quad-core Cortex-A9 being released sooner. I think those are fast enough.

  • Anonymous

    You’re right that .NET could become their “one tool to bind them all”, but at present it’s absolutely not. I’ve seen a couple of apps adding .NET as a dependency recently but pure apps? No way! Try to name 5 well known desktop apps written entirely in .NET. Actually I can’t even think of one (even visual studio 2010 has huge parts written in c++).

  • Anonymous

    Didn’t they announce no effort at all for x86 compatibillity just a few days ago? It’s a HUGE job (to get good performance) anyway. I guess by just translating operating system calls you could make 80% of the apps fast enough though.

  • Marc

     Hi. I thought that OMAP 5 (Dual Core A15 + Dual Core Cortex M4) will be in production at the end of this very same year, and in devices in 2012.

    This processor can match Windows 8 schedule.

  • What I think has been told in some of my videos is yes ARM Cortex-A15 starts sampling perhaps end of this year or early next year, but until the processors are ready for mass production and to be included in actual products there always needs to be a bunch more months.

    On the other hand, companies like Nvidia and probably TI, Qualcomm and others are also investing huge amounts of money in R&D to speed up their work to the maximum.

  •  Microsoft versus Intel: No matter who loses, we win.

  • The biggest advanage ARM has over x86 is that it is almost always a part of an SoC and because of that there is performance increase in graphics and video encode/decode among other things.
    I think you are talking of “Synaptics Package Manager” on Ununtu rather than “Ubuntu Sioftware Center”. Ubuntu Software Center has only 1600 apps wheareas Synaptics Package Manager has over 30,000.
    My first insight is that Microsoft may want use any one or all or a combination of these approaches to run x86 applications. There are two Gujarati proverbs which are very apt:
    જે પાણીએ મગ ચડે તેમ ચડાવવાના
    ટપ ટપથી કામ નથી મમ્મમથી છે
    Another insight, .Net is going to be very important including other platforms so mono and other platform initiatives need to go on.

  • An advantage Microsoft has over Apple is that Microsoft has not mixed 32 bits and 64 bits. Only 32 bit Windows will go ARM.

  • Code Morphing

     Code morphing and Transitive Technologies (IBM).

  • HDMI wholesale

    This is a great blog,I like this post it is very good and informative. I am sure that this post will be very much helpful for people. usbonlinegroup
    For more new informations from, please click:   HDMI Wholesale  Android OS  For iPhone 4  for iPod Touch  iPad 2 

  • Pug_ster

    In terms of Thin Clients, playing video and especially games are the paths that would hit a roadblock, including this.  First of all, the point of having a thin client is the need of a low bandwidth, running videos and games remotely would suck the bandwidth pipe.  Second, almost all business virtual environments have no graphics capability.  Third, this VDI runs Microsoft’s HyperV, not Vmware and most companies still run vmware.  I don’t think many companies want their users to play video or video games for that matter, so I don’t think putting a beefy graphics card in a server would sell very well.  Besides, I think that these ARM processors would have DSP’s that would allow processing of video and games in the local level in the future.

    On the plus side, when windows 8 ARM come out, we would see alot of cheap Windows 8 powered media players and Wyse terminals.

  • Les

     Most of the software on my x86 PC is either from MS (Office) or a Windows version of a Linux program which are available in Ubuntu (and therefore already ported to ARM).  I only have two other programs from commercial developers, and I can get most of their functionality from Linux derived programs too. So in my view, since Ubuntu and other flavours of Linux are already available on ARM, the ‘legacy app’ argument is irrelevant.

    The idea that there will be 4 different versions of Windows for ARM is also quite silly.  There are as many ‘versions’ of windows as there are PC models because the Windows installation program ‘builds’ each installation according to the hardware it finds.  The next generation of Intel Atom will be an SOC and it will be a different SOC than the AMD Bobcat.

    The App store you propose has two big advantages, in my opinion.  First, you can weed out all the rubbish legacy apps.  Second, you have much greater immunity to viruses if you use only the software in the app store because only secure programs will get in there.

  • Pug_ster

    Agreed, to say there are 4 different versions of ARM is like to say there are 10+ different versions of x86, pentium II, pentium II, pentium IV, core2duo, core series, AMD’s, VIA’s, etc…  I’m sure that Microsoft will write up some drivers that will optimize for a certain CPU, but in terms of software, one software will be written for ARM.  Microsoft will be forcing the ARM cpu manufacturers to comply to their standards.

  • Intel, Oh Intel, you and microsoft could go to hell for all I care

  • Charbax I love you man, but I nearly cracked up to see the FUD reference. I’m pretty sure you know who I am and that I am a developer. As such I’m not sure it’s as simple as you say and I would say some of what you propose seems unlikely.

    First of all Intel may have a point, but I can’t say for sure. In theory if done right and everything is making clean Windows calls than as a matter of calling the API you could run any Windows program on ARM, assuming Microsoft took that tack and making one more huge assumption. That assumption would be whether there is any assembly code in the program. That means games and legacy apps optimized for performance on x86. Alternately if Microsoft takes the easier course it means every program needs a recompile. Knowing Microsoft and that they could not even make their latest mobile phone platform backwards compatible this has some probability. Remember, Microsoft is notorious for promising big things and delivering small internal changes and some cosmetics. That’s not going to work with with a new platform. Last time Microsoft  tried to build for RISC was Intel’s Itanium (Itanic). After years of getting nowhere it flopped and AMD launched X86_64 leaving Intel with it’s pants down. It took years before Microsoft had an x86_64 release of Windows out of beta.

    Clearly Intel has a motivation to spread FUD on Windows on ARM. However remember Intel is also working on MeeGo as they are half the proposition having contributed their Mobiln OS which they spent years on. If I had to lean one direction or the other I tend to trust Intel a little more. Additionally your suggestion that Microsoft could just recompile old Windows programs has a real issue. Yes, they could be motivated to get product on ARM and they could help developers. No they are not going to have access to all the source code and time for lots of debugging on a large scale.

    Again Microsoft is notorious for breaking promises on releases. Time will tell. Intel may have had a motivation to discolor things, but so does Microsoft and the proof will be in the pudding. It’s not so simple.

  • I’m with Richard Stallman on .NYET. I think it is a Linux Trojan coded by a guy who is anything but objective. We were told that it would be taking over the net and way to cool to resist… years ago. It is currently a marginal technology and next to other technologies out there really deserves to remain so… Unless we want to risk something like the GIF patent fiasco on a much grander scale. I’m simply doing all I can to remain immune and there or lots of options.

  • I thought my Archos would be fast enough. It’s like saying they will be here soon enough. That’s not soon enough! 😉

  • Microsoft already has a huge database of .exe for monitoring and managing compatibility, it’s called Microsoft Application Compatibility Toolkit

    Yes I believe Intel’s move on Moblin/Meego is what convinced Microsoft to put their 1000 top engineers to destroying Intel by making sure Windows 8 is fully ARM optimized, and that Windows 8 also brings desktop/laptop computing to the type of UI that can work on Tablets, Smartphones even (so Windows 8 on ARM will be quite close even fully compatible with Windows Phone 8).

  • joe knott

    I imagine Windows 8 ARM won’t be a huge threat for Intel. Sure, it could take a small chunk out of their Atom sales, but Intel are hardly gonna go bankrupt because consumers have a choice between two low powered CPU’s for their netbooks. Now if Microsoft were to also have Windows 8 available for other architectures (such as ARM and POWER), then it could be a different story. But since as ARM isn’t really powerful enough for heavy gaming, Photoshopping and other common processor intensive tasks, most people are still gonna keep a desktop with a more powerful Intel chip in it.

  • Microsoft versus Intel: No matter who loses, we win dows.