Intel Accuses Microsoft Of Chancing Its ARM

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Intel says Microsoft’s mobile ARM chip strategy will fork Windows 8. Is this the end of the Wintel wonderland?

Cracks are appearing in the cosy ‘Wintel’ relationship between Microsoft and Intel, following the software giant’s decision to go with ARM chips for its mobile devices.

During a company investor meeting, Intel executive Renée James claimed that the next version of the Microsoft operating system, Windows 8, will be produced in two versions tailored to run on Intel and ARM processors. According to a Bloomberg report, she then speculated that while Intel chips will run existing Windows programs designed for earlier versions of the operating system, the ARM-based version will not.

Legacy Applications Will Not Run On ARM

James also spoke about “Windows 8 Traditional,” which will run on x86 chips to offer a Windows 7 mode to allow users to run “all of their old applications”. Microsoft has said that the Office Suite will be developed for the ARM devices and it is debatable whether many “native” applications from earlier versions of Windows would be desirable, or even applicable, to the touch-screen environment of tablets using the ARM chips.

James, senior vice president and general manager of Intel’s Software and Services Group, has a vested interest in trying to sway Microsoft away from ARM, but Intel is believed to be prepared to go alone to offer its own Windows-supporting architecture for mobile devices, such as tablets.

Microsoft has dismissed James’s comments calling them “factually inaccurate and unfortunately misleading” but did not go into detail.

What the Microsoft spokesperson probably meant was James’s insistence that Microsoft was developing four different and incompatible Windows versions for ARM.

There is plenty of room for speculation about Windows 8 because, at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, Steven Sinofsky, president of the Windows and Windows Live Division, said that “under the hood there are a ton of differences that need to be worked through” with regard to Windows supported on System on a Chip (SoC). He added, “Windows has proven remarkably flexible at this under-the-hood sort of stuff.”

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