Follow my blog here next week (subscribe to my RSS and to my YouTube Channel) as I will provide you with complete video-coverage from the Computex trade show in Taipei where Microsoft is rumored to be planning to showcase their Windows 8 for ARM Tablet Edition for the first time. I will try to ask Microsoft representatives about how they plan to release the Windows 8 for ARM, what will be the hardware requirements, what will be the software compatibility, how they plan to merge that with their Tablet and Smartphone strategies and more on that. I don’t expect Microsoft to be ready to answer all these questions yet, as they are probably working with thousands of engineers on this very secret project. But I will try. If I do manage to meet some Microsoft representatives at Computex that could say something about Windows 8 on ARM and explain something about Microsoft’s upcoming ARM Powered tablet strategy, what would you like me to ask them?
If anyone knows how I could meet Microsoft OEM chief Steve Guggenheimer at Computex, if there might be any private demonstration rooms at the trade show where Microsoft might want to demonstrate their UI and perhaps talk in an interview, please let me know, you can always Submit News here on the site or send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any tips about anything that you think that I should film at the Computex trade show.
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.
Forbes reports from Carlo Bozotti, the Chief Executive of European semiconductor maker STMicroelectronics, that Nokia will use the ST-Ericsson U8500 dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 with Mali-400 in at least some of its upcoming Windows Phone 8 devices to be released as soon as Nokia and Microsoft are able to make them ready. Here’s a video I filmed with ST-Ericsson showing this processor platform:
The move marks a major shift for Windows Phone devices, which up to now have used chips from wireless technology giant Qualcomm. Even the HTC Trophy, which Verizon Wireless announced today — making it the latest Windows Phone to launch in the U.S. — has a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor.
The uniformity is the result of Microsoft’s precise design guidelines for Windows Phone manufacturers. In the run-up to its big Windows Phone launch in the fall of 2010, Microsoft asked handset makers including HTC, LG, Samsung and Dell to utilize the same chipsets, display size and number of camera megapixels to give users a consistent experience across devices.
Earlier this year, however, Microsoft indicated it planned to open up Windows Phone development to other chipmakers. It now appears that ST-Ericsson, a joint venture between Geneva-based STMicroelectronics and Swedish telecom equipment and services supplier Ericsson, has been admitted to the Windows Phone ecosystem.
Another crazy rumor from Eldar Murtazin (who has been right before..) has been suggesting that Microsoft may be in talks to try buy Nokia’s Mobile Phone business flat out, probably for a bunch of tens of billions of dollars. Can you believe that?
My opinion is that Microsoft knows the ARM Powered mobile device space is where the future of technology is at, so short of yet releasing a Windroid fork of Linux based Android (that could launch Bing, own apps store etc..), Microsoft is probably going to do everything that they can to try to remain relevant in the smartphone and tablet space. Even if that might mean a $40 Billion buy-out of Nokia. Should the Finnish Nokia owners sell out to Redmond?
See how Intel Atom netbooks are being manufactured in a small sized factory in Shenzhen. They also sometimes manufacture Android tablets, it depends what there is demand for, usually they manufacture one thing during each day. What I heard from someone, is that their salary may be around $300 per month working like this 6 days a week. And that the Government some times passes regulation to increase salaries of the workers. It is interesting to consider that relatively small factories can be setup to assemble consumer electronics products, I wonder how those compete with the gigantic Chinese consumer electronics factories.
This may be the most compact Tegra2 fully featured box PC computer thus far. They use 256MB RAM DDR2, 1GB flash storage for 99 euros, they’ll also do a slightly higher end version with 512MB RAM and 4GB flash storage version soon. The cheapest board and box could be made for less than 50 euros more. Thus the idea is a sub-150 euro Tegra2 box PC all included and it being slightly larger than a box of playing cards, just big enough to accomodate the connectors.
Seco provides cross platform Q7 platforms where users can swap from x86 to ARM Powered seamlessly, with minimum hardware and software porting. They provide Quadmo747-X/T20 for Tegra2, OMAP4, OMAP3, i.MX51 and i.MX28. This way, customers can have as much choice as possible, going from one processor to the other. All board vendors are joining the Q7 board standard, for interoperability in swapping modules.
Nvidia is working in the embedded space for some time, they are supporting long term support, industrialization, temperatures and everything else needed in the embedded market. Nvidia provides the chip and some level of software support to enable them and they are supporting the customizations of the implementations. Nvidia showcases their work with MSC, Seco, Toradex and Trim Slice.