Microsoft will have four versions of Windows 8 for ARM processors, according to an Intel executive. But none of them will run older applications.ARM processors are used in most smartphones and tablets today. Microsoft announced in January that it was porting Windows to ARM for the first time — to date, Windows has run exclusively on Intel’s x86 processors.
Intel’s senior vice president of software Renee James spilled more details on Microsoft’s ARM plans at a conference for Intel investors today. They were first reported by Bloomberg’s Dina Bass.
According to James, the ARM versions of Windows will be tailored for tablets and smartphones and will not be able to run apps built for older versions of Windows, which exclusively run on Intel’s x86 architecture. The Intel version of Windows 8 will run older apps.
Previous rumours have suggested that the ARM version of Windows 8 could come out earlier than the x86 version — perhaps as soon as this year.
Microsoft always releases multiple versions of Windows — basically, there’s a high-end version for enterprises with all the features, then various lesser versions for businesses and consumers. Now, it sounds like Microsoft will be releasing all these versions for ARM as well as Intel chips.
The whole process sounds insanely complicated for Microsoft, which previously only had to build for one architecture. Developers may also face challenges writing their apps for both platforms.
Microsoft will probably take the wraps off Windows 8 and explain its developer plans in more detail at its Professional Developers Conference in September.