His conclusion: the rumours just don’t make sense.
- The main advantage of ARM is better battery life. But the main problem with Windows on tablets isn’t battery life, it’s lack of a usable touch interface and compatible touch applications.
- Porting the full desktop version of Windows to ARM would be both incredibly expensive and useless: it wouldn’t solve the touch interface problems, and it wouldn’t have the main advantage of Windows on Intel, which is compatibility with hundreds of thousands of existing apps and hardware peripherals.
- Creating a special embedded version of desktop Windows and letting hardware makers pick and choose the pieces they want to use (as Microsoft did with Windows CE) would be even worse: every “Windows” tablet would potentially have a different user interface, different features, and work with a different set of programs.
- Building a new tablet OS for ARM processors based on desktop Windows might solve the touch interface problems, but still wouldn’t run traditional Windows desktop apps. So why bother? It would make much more sense to build the tablet OS based on Windows CE, which has run on ARM processors forever. In addition, Microsoft has already built a great touch interface and development platform on top of Windows CE–Windows Phone 7.
This is probably why Microsoft wasn’t even thinking of porting desktop Windows to ARM a year ago.
The logical conclusion: Microsoft isn’t announcing a version of desktop Windows that supports ARM. Instead, it’ll announce a new platform based on Windows CE–now called Windows Embedded Compact–with some new user interface elements for tablets. This is exactly what ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley speculated on Tuesday.
The company will probably come up with a neat new name like Windows Embedded for Tablets, and folks who don’t follow Microsoft closely will assume it’s a completely new OS.
But this initiative will fail unless Microsoft does the same thing it did with Windows Phone 7 and places restrictions on hardware makers so that all Windows tablets look and work approximately the same way. If Microsoft lets hardware makers run wild with the tablet OS, like they can (and do) with Windows Embedded Compact on tablets today, then the entire project becomes meaningless.
Even if Microsoft follows the Phone 7 route for tablets, the company has to get this puppy to market fast, or the iPad and onslaught of Android and other tablets will bury it.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.