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.
- Microsoft Denies Some, or Maybe All, of Intel’s Claims About Windows 8 and ARM (readwriteweb.com)
- Intel and Microsoft Nip and Growl Over Windows’ Race to ARMs (tjantunen.com)
- Microsoft: Intel “factually inaccurate” and “misleading” on Windows 8 (slashgear.com)
- Microsoft: Intel’s Comments on Windows 8 Versions Are Dead Wrong (pcworld.com)
- Microsoft Spars With Intel Over Windows 8 (adweek.com)
- Microsoft calls Intel’s Windows 8 comments ‘inaccurate’ (go.theregister.com)
- Windows 8 To Support ARM Mobile Processors Without Windows 7 Mode for Legacy Apps (mydigitallife.info)
- Microsoft rebuts Intel’s claims about Windows 8, calls them ‘factually inaccurate’ (engadget.com)