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.
- Microsoft to show Windows 8 ARM Tablet Edition next week!? (armdevices.net)
- Microsoft reportedly considering its own-branded Windows 8 tablet (winrumors.com)
- Will Microsoft Release Its Own Windows 8 Tablet? (slashdot.org)
- Windows 8 Video Demonstration At Computex 2011 (ghacks.net)
- Microsoft May Build Its Own Windows 8 Tablet (pcworld.com)
- Microsoft eyeing own-brand Windows 8 tablet for end of 2012? (engadget.com)
A quite small modern solar panel can produce 1W of power, enough to power both the Pixel Qi and the whole ARM Powered tablet motherboard behind it. Think for a second how amazing this is. They can put solar panels on the bezel and the Tablet could basically be fully solar powered, have a bigger solar panel on the back of the tablet if you want to just charge it and not use it. This compact 1W Solar panel is $3. OLPC could be using this for the upcoming OLPC XO-1.75 Laptop and the XO-3 tablet.
Cupp Computing is now launching as a product their module to replace the hard drive in any Laptop, add an SSD, up to 2 MicroSD cards (one for the ARM Powered OS of your choice), and with a keyboard shortcut you instantly go from the ARM Powered OS to the x86 OS, and back while the x86 goes to sleep. The ARM Powered Laptop runs up to 40 hours on a battery, if you have just 10 minutes left of battery, switch to ARM mode and you've still got 1 hour of use to finish your work. In ARM Mode it can run Android, Ubuntu, Chrome OS and other. They are currently using OMAP3, they can use OMAP4 also soon for more ARM Performance. They also plan to work with motherboard manufacturers to add the whole ARM Powered laptop module right onto all motherboards so ARM Powered laptop mode becomes a default option in all laptops.
- CUPP Computing transforms all Laptops to ARM Powered laptops (armdevices.net)
- CUPP PunkThis hands-on (video) (engadget.com)
- CUPP PunkThis packs full ARM PC into your notebook's HDD bay (slashgear.com)
- PunkThis: An Android and ARM PC Inside Your SATA Bay (pcworld.com)
- PunkThis: an ARM computer for your notebook's SATA bay (geek.com)
They say that they can make a 2Ghz ARM Cortex-A9 Dual-core now, but for now they are demonstrating it at lower clock speeds on an Android tablet, an Ubuntu laptop and an all-in-one Ubuntu 11.4 desktop example.
Wyse T50 is an Ubuntu Core powered thin client device, it is powered by Marvell Armada 510 (1Ghz). It features DVI, Ethernet, 4 usb host ports and an sd-card slot.
They can do Android on the phone and at the same time output Ubuntu on a HDTV or Computer monitor. In this video, TI answers some of the questions regarding the OMAP4430's memory bandwidth for desktop computing level of performance in web browsing and other apps as well as other details about the status of this platform for use to run a full desktop/laptop OS. TI also claims to have the best Flash support, doing up to 1080p Flash video in the Android browser just software based today on OMAP4430, and Flash 11 for Honeycomb coming out in August or September should be taking full use of GPU hardware acceleration providing even smoother Flash support. OMAP4460 is the platform that TI currently is using with Google for TI's full Honeycomb and Ice Cream Sandwich support working on fully optimizing hardware and software.
Here's a look at the Honeycomb powered Asus Slider to be released in June. Asus says their Eee Pad Transformer is popular, is this one going to be as popular? Are they going to price this one as much as the Transformer plus the keyboard add-on?
Here at Computex, CUPP Computing just released their first ARM Powered module. You take out the hard drive and replace it with this Texas Instruments ARM Powered board, one keyboard shortcut to jump instantly from your x86 OS to any ARM Powered OS, be it Android, Ubuntu, Chromium OS and other.
My take on it is that the Chromebook is the first serious challenger to Windows/Mac in terms of being installed in a mass market retail product. It's the first ever mass market Linux laptop (after the One Laptop Per Child non-profit reaching 2.5 million children with Linux Laptops in the developping world since 2007). It's the first ever mass market ARM Powered laptop. It can be configured to be the cheapest laptop to make, the safest, the fastest, the thinnest, the lightest and the easiest to use. Chromebook may be the first successful carrier subscription based laptop.
For Chromebook to sell more than Windows, here's what I think Chromebook needs to be:
- $199 or less in an ARM Powered configuration
- Use Pixel Qi with ARM and you've got 30 hours battery runtime in a sub-1kg 11.6" or 12.1" super slim form factor
- They should subsidize these in partnership with the carriers to do a subscription model for normal consumers like this:
1. Sell it for $99 or less on a 2-year contract with $10/month/100mb or $20/month/1GB 3G/LTE data plan
2. Bandwidth upgrades should be max $10/GB, $20/5GB, $30/10GB on-demand one-click
3. They can use carrier billing (thus carrier revenue share) for bandwidth upgrades, for cloud media subscriptions, on-demand, Chrome Web Store web apps and for all Google Checkout based online shopping
4. Provide an optional hardware upgrade once a year with contract extension. Used devices can be resold refurbished.
5. Provide 100GB or more cloud storage and full Google Apps for consumers with the subscription, offer guarantee of available of advanced web apps such as HD video editing (with many or most of the features of Avid/Finalcut), photo editor. And all these web apps must feel near instant to load and work offline, a web app should only need to get reloaded if it detects that there is a new version available. Gmail should load instantly for example.
6. Obviously, Google Voice and Google Music needs to be worldwide. They should also expand with a Google Video cloud storage. Basically they can allow people to upload 20'000 songs and 1'000 movies for free, the reason being, Google only needs to store one copy of each song or movie, and if the upload client (also on Chrome OS) detects that the file you want to upload already exists on Google's servers in equal or better quality, it should instantly beam it to your account without actually requiring you to upload anything. Google should not care to try to filter out any "illegal" Mp3, Flac, DivX, MKV files. Eventually they can introduce unlimited music/movies subscription plans like Spotify/Netflix but they should aim at being able to include access to everything in those unlimited subscriptions, this might only be achievable through Government regulation of online content subscriptions.
If Google can deliver on those things and quickly, which is what I expect them to be able to do, then I think it's obvious Chromebook could become the number 1 PC/Laptop OS as quickly as they became number 1 OS in smartphones since the Nexus One was released.
Can we expect to see some ARM Powered Chromebooks (or Chromiumbooks) at Computex in Taiwan at the end of May from all the Taiwanese notebook designers (Inventec, Pegatron, Wistron, Foxconn, Shuttle, Gigabyte etc..) who design upwards 90% of worldwide notebooks?
- ARM Powered Chromebooks to be released soon (armdevices.net)
- Google 'Chromebook' focuses on enterprise push - Computerworld (news.google.com)
- Google aims at Microsoft with Chromebooks (ft.com)
As a reply to my ARM Powered Chromebook Chrome OS notebook question posted online, the Google Chrome Team confirms that while they are focusing right now on getting the Intel Powered Samsung and Acer devices out the door on June 15th, the Chrome OS team is also working hard on ARM support and the ARM Powered Chromebooks should be released soon after. Their wording is the ARM Chromebooks are "hot on the trails" of the Intel Powered ones. This could be the first mass market ARM Powered laptop ever released.
The advantage of an ARM Powered Chrome OS device is that it is thinner, lighter, runs longer on a battery and especialy could be sold for a lot cheaper. I'm expecting the ARM Powered Chromebooks to sell below $199 for them to become the new best selling notebook platform.