ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley has an alternate take on this morning’s Bloomberg story that Microsoft is creating a version of Windows for ARM-based tablets.Instead of porting the current desktop version of Windows, Foley speculates that Microsoft is simply announcing a new version of Windows Embedded Compact–the operating system formerly known as Windows CE.
If she’s right, there’s nothing really new here. Windows CE has run on ARM-based processors forever, and Microsoft VP Steve Guggenheimer talked up tablets running on Windows Embedded Compact at the Computex trade show in Taiwan last summer.
If this is actually Microsoft’s tablet strategy, then it’s dead on arrival.
Unlike the desktop version of Windows, the Compact version is highly customisable by hardware makers–think of the old Windows Mobile phones before Windows Phone 7 came out. That makes it similar to Google’s Android, with one critical difference: it’s not free.
It’s always possible that Microsoft will revamp its Embedded strategy like it revamped its phone strategy, and create strict hardware specs and refuse to allow manufacturers to customise it. In that case, it would be more like Apple’s iOS–only without the Apple brand, huge base of third-party developers, and hundreds of thousands of apps.
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