Putting previous rumors to rest, Microsoft on Wednesday jumped into the future by actually confirming at the CES 2011 show that the next Windows version will run on various ARM-based mobile chips, in addition to x86 processors from AMD and Intel.
Windows president Steven Sinofsky said the announcement showed the "flexibility and resiliency of Windows." On display were various capabilities such as hardware-accelerated graphics and media playback, hardware-accelerated web browsing with the latest Microsoft Internet Explorer, USB device support, printing and more. Topping it all off was a demo showing Microsoft Office running smoothly on ARM architecture, which was kinda historical moment in computing.
The biggest beneficiaries of this move will be chip vendors that make ARM-based system-on-a-chip packages that typically combine a CPU/GPU core, memory controller, caches, and additional logic on a single die, making them feasible for use in small factor devices like tablets and smartphones.
It also marks a significant milestone for UK-based fables chip designer ARM whose CPU blueprints power more than fifty percent of mobile devices. The biggest ARM licensors today are Qualcomm, Samsung, Texas Instruments, and Nvidia which yesterday revealed its ARM-based future.
Of course, that's not to say that Intel or AMD will be left out because both manufacturers have their own SoC platforms. That said, think of this announcement as Microsoft's pervasive and clever strategy to put Windows onto mobile devices like tablets and smartphones by finally tailoring its operating system to the silicon utilized in low-power, ultra-portable gadgets.