Windows 8 on ARM shown at Computex, Microsoft becomes cool

Posted by Charbax – June 8, 2011

Short of calling it Azure OS (yet..), Microsoft is going all-in making HTML5 web-apps the core of the next generation Windows 8 apps ecosystem. It means Microsoft is betting their farm on the cloud. Microsoft is going all-in for "immersive internet computing" touch screen tablet UI support. Microsoft is making sure ARM Powered Windows 8 works exactly like on x86.

Watch this following awesome demonstration and talk of Windows 8 on ARM at Computex. I embed it starting at time-code 17m49s when Mike Anguilo starts talking about ARM Windows 8 status, but also do make sure to rewind to the start to watch the full Windows 8 UI demos. Mike Anguilo runs Windows planning and is also responsible for Microsoft's technical engagement with the Windows 8 ecosystem.

The Microsoft people like Mike Anguilo seem to have a serious plan, they probably still have some of the worlds best engineers on staff and they can afford to basically do whatever they want. It will be awesome to see how Microsoft will try to sustain a same or greater level of revenues and profits in such a rapidly auto-disrupting industry. While it can be argued Microsoft is late to the whole Smartphone and Tablet game, on the other hand the number of Smartphones sold in the last 5 years is probably 15x smaller compared to the number of Smartphones likely to be sold within the next 5 years. And the number of Tablets sold in the last 3 years likely is probably 150x smaller compared to the number of Tablets likely to be sold in the next 3 years. It sure looks to me like Windows 8 is going in the right direction for Microsoft. Since Windows 7, Microsoft has given up its always escalating hardware requirements Wintel strategy to instead focus on cutting off more and more of the bloatware. With Windows 8 they now even move over to an even more cloud centric Browser based HTML5 application ecosystem, sounds to me like an answer to Chrome OS in the form of an Azure OS with backwards ".exe compatibility". The question is, how can Microsoft differentiate its UI enough to justify the proprietary pricing differences? Or if they plan to be priced comparatively even with the cheapest Android and Chrome OS Open Source alternatives, how can they provide enough of a differentiating user experience to hold unto those billion Windows PC users that they got with the previous Wintel PC ecosystem?

While I don't know if it would make complete business sense and a corporations main focus legally has to be to take care of its shareholders, here are a few more directions I think Windows 8 might need to get into if they seriously want to be the dominant ARM Powered ecosystem:

- Windows 8 needs to be open source and free. They can do it like Google, and develop their next gens in secret hardware/chipset partnerships, but to get onto the next couple billion ARM Powered Smartphones, Tablets, Set-top-boxes, Laptops, they need it to be open and free. Nothing closed and pricey can ultimately win over open and free in the ARM world.

- Microsoft needs to focus on providing software as a service. The new Windows 8 App Store needs to have all the HTML5 apps, all the Android apps (yup.. why not?), and also, all the .exe apps (all Windows 98/XP/Vista/7 apps should just work), if not through native code execution then through cloud based software virtualization.

- Microsoft needs to focus on eliminating all the bloat, minimize the hardware requirements, make all ARM chipsets compatible and invite all manufacturers to use it for free. A $100 ARM Powered Laptop sold a year from now in every super market needs to be able to run a full Windows 8 OS, boot in 3 seconds, resume in 0.03 seconds and last 30 hours on a battery.

Do I think Microsoft can become so disruptive to its old business models so fast? I don't know how such a corporation may or may not quickly adjust or/and change its leadership. I don't know if Steve Ballmer needs to be replaced by a new CEO like Mike Anguilo or someone as cool as Google's Vic Gundotra (who previously worked at Microsoft) for these major business model shifts to actually occur as soon as with Windows 8/Azure OS. If done correctly, Microsoft could maybe even make more money per new Windows user than they did on selling basic proprietary software licences. How hard could it be for Microsoft to provide good enough cloud services and web app and web content integration over a potentialy popular Windows 8 devices for them to make up more than those $40-$80 or so per Windows user over 2-5 years of use in average pure profits per user? Or will Microsoft insist on staying proprietary, closed, try to enforce some kind of closed profit margin value chain where they'd try to reserve some kind of significant profit margins some what imitating Apple's large profit margins business model on selling ARM Powered devices? What do you think? Post your opinions on Windows 8 in the comments.

Here are a few awesome ARM Powered Windows 8 quotes that you can find in the 32-minute Microsoft Windows 8 Computex demo video:

The most important app of all on these systems is the browser. Over 60% of people's time on any of those systems is focused in the browser.

We've extended the trend that we started with Windows 7, on keeping our system requirements on either flat or reducing them over time.

The newest addition to the Windows ecosystem is of course ARM.

This has been made possible in part because of the innovation that has been going on in the ARM ecosystem today. ARM SoC's in general, virtually all of the new ones support Windows 8 system requirements. They all run over 1Ghz. They all have hardware accelerated graphics.

They are all getting more powerful. They are all getting more efficient. The cost is coming down and they are enabling thinner and lighter form factors than ever. In fact, all of these ARM Powered PCs that I am showing you here are not only able to experience to full Windows 8 experience you just saw, they are also able to support a new mode called Always On Always Connected. So the way you would it expect it from a Smartphone today, these systems will be able to instantly wake, they'll be able to go in standby for a really long time with low power drain, get great battery life but stil stay syncing and connected all at the same time.

  • Pug_ster

    I think Microsoft don’t have to be open yet remain competitive.  Microsoft did it with its plug and play design in its intel hardware and they can do this here.  They can have the hardware manufacturers to create drivers for the OS.  If Microsoft can allow you to install an windows os phone or tablet without relying on the manufacturer for images, that would be great.

  • Maybe Microsoft can still afford that. I think otherwise the advantage of being open source is not only letting hackers look at your code, as it’s speeding adoption up faster so that all the hardware makers can more quickly use your platform and integrate themselves into your ecosystem.

    I believe that if Microsoft had open sourced Windows 95 and made it available for free, we would have had a completely different world today.

    But sure enough opening it up and giving it away for free is very disruptive to the last century business model that Microsoft used then to become the richest company in the world.

  • jake

    great post!

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