For those who were planning on buying a Windows 8 tablet with an ARM processor inside, you will be disappointed to find out that ARM powered Windows 8 tablets will not be able to run old applications. We have heard such talks before, but today Steven Sinofsky, chief of Windows, confirmed what many had feared.
As it stands, if you want to run your old applications, you will then be forced to purchase a Windows 8 machine with an x86/64 processor from either Intel or AMD. All ARM based Windows 8 machines will only support newer applications, so companies like Nvidia, Qualcomm, Texas Instruments, and others have a lot of work cut out to get developers onboard to support ARM on Windows 8.
Not everything is doom and gloom for ARM though, from what we understand, all Metro applications will be compatible with both ARM and x86/64 processors. According to Sinofksy, ARM based Windows 8 tablets will only be compatible with Metro style applications, so it appears developers won’t be able to build normal applications for ARM. What we are getting from all this, is, if you want the full Windows 8 experience, your best bet is to purchase a device with x86/64 inside instead of anything else, however, if you only want the tablet experience, you could go ARM. We expect ARM based Windows 8 tablets to be considerably cheaper than an x86/64 tablet; this is where ARM has a chance to gain popularity in a world dominated by Intel and AMD.
Another thing to take note of, if you were thinking about running x86/64 apps under emulation on an ARM based Windows 8 device, that won’t work either. Microsoft has closed all the gaps, but that being said, we believe some smart person out there will find a way to get around the system and make available old apps on ARM machines.
Not many will be happy by this news, but such is life. It was never going to be smooth sailing when Microsoft first announced its plans to support ARM processors in Windows 8. Moving away from an exclusive x86/64 environment is good for the company, a move that will surely benefit Microsoft a huge deal if consumers gravitate towards Windows 8 devices running on ARM processors. Intel and AMD both of have reasons to worry, Metro is the future for Windows, and so despite having the upper hand where legacy applications are concerned, it won’t matter much since all Metro styled apps will be compatible with ARM and x86/64.