I'm in the audience of Microsoft's Partner Preview for Computex 2011, basically an event to give a sneak peak of the future of Windows to press and MS partners here in Taipei.

Of course I'm talking about Windows 8. On stage there are several systems running a wide variety of hardware. Microsoft has machines from AMD, Intel, NVIDIA (presumably a Tegra 2 or Kal-El notebook?), Qualcomm and Texas Instruments. That's five players when Windows 7 really only launched on platforms from two different silicon vendors. 

We've got a race here folks and it's anyone's game. Intel has the lionshare of traditional PCs, but Qualcomm is really the Intel of the ultra mobile world. How this race plays out over the next two years is going to be very interesting. With five players here today, you can expect that list to dwindle over time. Remember when there were 4 players in the x86 CPU race?
 
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  • Targon - Wednesday, June 01, 2011 - link

    You had Transmeta and Cyrix, Nexgen was the company AMD bought so they could release the AMD K6. Reply
  • extide - Monday, June 06, 2011 - link

    Cyrex
    Nexgen
    Intel
    AMD
    Reply
  • ahmedz_1991 - Wednesday, June 01, 2011 - link

    windows 8 on 5 platforms ??!!
    didn't c that coming! I wonder if we could c affordable yet capable machines out of this !
    Reply
  • Targon - Wednesday, June 01, 2011 - link

    The real problem has never been about the OS, but about compatible applications. Unless you have some sort of compatibility layer(virtual machine), you generally need new applications that have been compiled for the given CPU architecture.

    Intel has run into this more than once, where new processors did not take off due to performance of old x86 applications not being very good on the new chips. The Pentium Pro was a 32 bit chip that basically broke compatibility with existing applications....it died, though most of the design ended up being used in the Pentium 2 and Pentium 3, and even the Core line was the same basic design. The Itanium was an almost complete failure for multiple reasons.

    There is the potential for virtual machines to handle compatibility issues for apps, but I see a huge potential here for a major support headache. Now, we will have people who buy apps for their Windows 8 based machine, and they won't have ANY clue about how to figure out which version they will need.
    Reply
  • parkerm35 - Thursday, June 02, 2011 - link

    I think this is a lot different from the Pentium Pro situation. People write software to run on current operating systems using current CPU's. When Windows 8 hits the streets this will be a "current" operating system and developers will write software to run on these "current" CPU's. I mean lets face it who in this world who owns a PC wont want Windows 8? XP users are waiting for it, I have Windows 7 ultimate and i'm still waiting for it. So developers obviously want to sell there software to the mass, which will be after a year after release Windows 8. Reply
  • fireboy92k - Thursday, June 02, 2011 - link

    I think MS will also start banging the drum on the whole 'app compat' thing in a different way than Intel and others implied/are implying. Only NATIVE Windows apps will need to be re-compiled/made for Intel vs. ARM most likely. I also don't think we are about to see ARM powered desktops anytime soon. This just finally lets Windows scale to something else other than Intel and to form factors that frankly Intel has had poor penitration into. They've consistently fumbled their mobile CPU platform since the start, so either MS got tired of waiting, or they finally woke up and realized ChipZilla ain't ever gonna get there in time for them to not get their clock cleaned entirely.

    The new touch stuff and start screen you noticed were all about 'HTML 5 and Javascript'. Such apps will 'just run' regardless of the underlying CPU architecture as your web rendering engine is now that 'app compatability layer' or VM if you will. No mention in that discussion about 'natively compiled' apps, or Silverlight apps, or .Net apps.... zip, zilch, nada.

    For Microsoft, who has a MASSIVE infrastructure and cash business in tools and compilers, that's a HUGE shift... It's more like the move to Windows 95 than just the UI, that's for sure.
    Reply
  • snarfbot - Friday, June 03, 2011 - link

    why wouldnt we see any arm desktops? most certainly there well be net-tops based on arm once windows 8 is out.

    whats the difference between a desktop and a net-top, performance and flexibility, form factor?

    for most users form factor isnt a goal when purchasing a pc, performance is, and for most uses arm is going to be acceptable for the average consumer.

    as long as it runs windows, they might just eat it up as long as its priced competitively.
    Reply
  • mike8675309 - Thursday, June 02, 2011 - link

    the real problem is not simply applications, it's drivers for the hardware that interfaces to the operating system. Video cards, printers, scanners, USB device drivers, sound drivers, any number of vertical hardware pieces. anything that is at the hardware level has to have code written to transition to the operating system. Microsoft has done a good job to hide driver issues with Windows 7, but they are there.

    And windows has always had a hardware abstraction layer. Folks may not remember but NT ran on Alpha, MIPS and PowerPC. Windows CE supports multiple processor families (ARM, MIPS...etc).

    As all these chip sets shake out, it may be a good time to be a low level device driver programmer.
    Reply
  • Geeks Rule - Tuesday, July 12, 2011 - link

    The real issue is the OS. As hardware continues to advance all 2, 4, 6, 8, etc. core processors. The OS needs to keep up. If the OS can't keep up and be created to utilize and facilitate the integration of new tech properly...

    I'm glad it's something Microsoft has had in their sights over the past few years and have hopefully incorporated into 8.
    Reply
  • mfed3 - Wednesday, June 01, 2011 - link

    how will these devices work in terms of booting? will they have pc like efi / bios with configurable partitions or will they have these locked down rom based bootloaders? i really want to know about the arm based side mostly. this could be game changing.

    any word on the html5 / css / javascript based sdk?
    Reply

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