The secrets behind Microsoft’s new ARM License

Posted by – July 23, 2010
Category: Opinions, Google

The biggest threat to Microsoft’s $62 Billion in yearly revenues and $24 Billion in yearly profits is the possibility that consumers and the enterprise start adopting sub-$200 Linux based ARM Cortex A9 laptops and desktops as the new standard for personal computing in the months to come. There is a high probability that Chrome OS and Ubuntu will turn out to work very smoothly on ARM Cortex A9 processors, so smoothly that most consumers might be satisfied with the experience of web browsing speed and for running basic applications like text editors but even basic video- and photo-editing once those are available on the cloud and powered by advanced HTML5 native code and caching mechanisms.

Microsoft clearly must be seeing this as the biggest threat to their core business and thus is probably preparing a version of Windows 7 for ARM. It won’t run all the .exe files that run on Intel/AMD/VIA x86 processors. But there may be tools for developers to recompile the most important applications and to make new drivers. The challenge is for Microsoft to present such a lightweight version of Windows for ARM in a way that consumers will still pay for the Microsoft Windows OS experience even as prices of those ARM Powered laptops arrive at under $200. The profit margins will be low for Microsoft and this will require for them to implement totally different and bold business models if they want to try to keep the same numbers in yearly revenues and profits to not have their share holders sell their stocks. It would probably be based on Windows CE 7, but since that one looks much like Windows CE 6, it would be all about how they could upgrade the user interfaces to make it look and perform as much like Windows 7 as they can.

Some other possibilities as to what Microsoft may be doing with this ARM Licence:

– To release a new lower cost ARM Cortex A9 powered XboX to compete with the upcoming Google TV platform. 10 years ago, Microsoft launched MSN TV and for years there has been Windows Home Center Edition but it never really was a success like Google TV has the potential to be. Features need to be implemented in a cheap ARM Powered hardware such as HD quality video-on-demand streaming, casual and advanced 3D gaming, lean back web experiences.

– To release a Tablet centric OS to compete with Android and iOS, it would be related to Windows Phone 7 Series and with some features of the ARM version of Windows 7.

– Microsoft may want to design and control their own version of an ARM processor and keep it for their products. Like Apple keeps A4 for their products.

What do you think Microsoft is going to do with this ARM License?