Just ahead of the Consumer Preview release of Windows 8, Steven Sinofsky in a massive post entitled “Building Windows for the ARM processor architecture” — says Windows 8 running on ARM architectures will be available on PCs and tablets in the same time frame as the same time as it is on x86 PCs.
Although Microsoft waited almost a year later to reveal WOA for the first time in public at a CES 2011 press conference, it’s now clear Microsoft too had future bets on an ARM-based ecosystem even before the iPad began selling and ARM took the spotlight for tablet devices.
Moreover, Windows on ARM will also offer access to the Windows Store, and to all applications that will be made available for Windows 8 users through it.
“WOA (Windows on ARM) PCs are still under development and our collective goal is for PC makers to ship them the same time as PCs designed for Windows 8 on x86/64. These PCs will be built on unique and innovative hardware platforms provided by NVIDIA, Qualcomm, and Texas Instruments, with a common Windows on ARM OS foundation–all running the same Windows OS binaries, a unique approach for the industry. PC manufacturers are hard at work on PCs designed from the ground up to be great and exclusively for WOA,” mentions Sinofsky.
Writing further he notes, “Partners will provide WOA PCs as integrated, end-to-end products that include hardware, firmware, and Windows on ARM software. Windows on ARM software will not be sold or distributed independent of a new WOA PC, just as you would expect from a consumer electronics device that relies on unique and integrated pairings of hardware and software.”
“Using WOA ‘out of the box’ will feel just like using Windows 8 on x86/64. You will sign in the same way. You will start and launch apps the same way. You will use the new Windows Store the same way. You will have access to the intrinsic capabilities of Windows, from the new Start screen and Metro style apps and Internet Explorer, to peripherals, and if you wish, the Windows desktop with tools like Windows File Explorer and desktop Internet Explorer.”
WOA arrives with all the WinRT capabilities present in the Windows Developer Preview. This means that developers can take advantage of all the tools and techniques used for building Metro style apps for x86/64, to come up with apps for ARM as well.
Developers will be able to use available tools to create native C/C++ code for increased performance, and can also benefit from C#, XAML, VB, and HTML5 based tools for delivering applications for WOA. All that is required is that their code targets the WinRT API set.
“The Windows Store can carry, distribute, and service both the ARM and x86/64 implementations of apps (should there be native code in the app requiring two distributions).”
“Microsoft and ARM partners will be making available a limited number of test devices to developers in a closed, invitation only program. These are not samples or hints of forthcoming devices, but tools for hardware and software engineers,” Scott Seiber concludes.
Also, that Microsoft is planning to include Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote on Windows 8 on ARM devices. And, that Microsoft is not making Office 15 a Metro-style application. It’ll be a Desktop application, meaning it won’t be redone to take advantage of WinRT. Today’s post gives a bit of a clue:
“WOA (Windows on ARM) includes desktop versions of the new Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. These new Office applications, codenamed ‘Office 15,’ have been significantly architected for both touch and minimized power/resource consumption, while also being fully-featured for consumers and providing complete document compatibility. WOA supports the Windows desktop experience including File Explorer, Internet Explorer 10 for the desktop, and most other intrinsic Windows desktop features–which have been significantly architected for both touch and minimized power/resource consumption.”
“All Metro style apps in the Windows Store work on both WOA and x86/64 Windows 8. WOA provides Metro style apps from PC to cloud with apps from Microsoft that support mail, calendaring, contacts, photos, and storage.”
The massive 8,600-word post also gave us a glimpse of the new Office 15 suite and “Windows Communication” apps (essentially Metro-styled Windows Live apps).
Sinofsky didn’t note in his post that plug-ins were no longer supported in the Desktop version of IE10, which we reported earlier on February 1 blog post titled IE10 Helps Making a Plug-in Free Web; Doesn’t Use Plugins in Metro Mode, Offers to Switch to Desktop.
Windows 8 will arrive with specific Metro style apps from Microsoft, including Hotmail, SkyDrive, Messenger, which will offer access to the respective services. Users will be able to remove these apps from Windows, Microsoft notes, adding that they will also have the Windows Store at their disposal to download and install other software.
Furthermore, contents from the Windows Store is also revealed, showing what will be available in the Windows 8 Consumer Preview. Of particular note is the existence of the Zune brand within the store. you can see in the image below the existence of the “Zune Music” and “Zune Video” apps:
Sinofsky also posted a video showing off Windows on ARM. In the video, we get a quick look at not only the new “Live” Metro style apps like Mail and Calendar, but also a peek at how Office 15 will look.