Windows on ARM: leading from the rear

Information
2011-Jul-10

Windows on ARMAnalysis Bill Gates may have long departed, but he's still in charge at Microsoft, in spirit at least. Every year Chairman Bill would return from a "reading week" – I prefer to think that Bill got lost on his annual trip to the shopping mall – having noticed that there were lots of newfangled TVs / watches / phones / pacemakers about, and none of them were running Microsoft software.


When he returned to HQ, the cry would go round that something must be done. The result was invariably a new OS project. This time, it's different – and Microsoft has decided to let someone else do the hard work. Microsoft will port full-blown Windows to ARM's processors. The OEMs therefore have the headache of providing driver support.

A non-Intellic Windows is not exactly earth-shattering news – Microsoft designed NT to be portable back in the days when it wanted people to buy it because it was a less anarchic and unruly version of Open Systems (aka Unix). Microsoft then spent much of the 1990s developing and supporting Windows on non-Intel hardware, just to prove how portable it was. The big vendors who signed up to a native non-Intel Windows and tried (with varying degrees of persistence) to make a business out of this included the biggest names in the industry: SGI, HP, IBM, and DEC (later Compaq).

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