Feeds

Intel: Windows on ARM won't run 'legacy apps'

Waves flag for 'traditional' Windows 8

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Seven Steps to Software Security

Update: Microsoft has taken issue with Intel's comments on the next version of Windows. An update to this story can be found here.

Microsoft may be porting Windows 8 to the ARM architecture, but the general manager of Intel's software and services group insists she's not losing any sleep over a bruising battle in a more-competitive arena. At least when it comes to PCs.

Speaking on Tuesday at Intel's Investor Meeting 2011 in Santa Clara, California, Renée James pointed out that the next version of Windows – popularly known as Windows 8 – will be available in versions for both x86 and ARM. There will be a "Windows 8 traditional", she said, that will run on x86 chips and handle "legacy applications", meaning existing x86-based Windows apps, and there will be a separate version of the OS that runs on ARM. Windows 8 traditional, she explained, will include a "Windows 7 mode".

"[Windows 8 traditional] means that our customers, or anyone who has an Intel-based or an x86-based product, will be able to run either Windows 7 mode or Windows 8 mode," she said. "They'll run all of their old applications, all of their old files – there'll be no issue."

Not so with the ARMy flavor of Windows 8. "On ARM, there'll be the new experience, which is very specifically around the mobile experience, specifically around tablet and some limited clamshell, with no legacy OS," she said. "Our competitors will not be running legacy applications. Not now. Not ever."

Intel will have a distinct advantage, said James. "We will also be able to run that [new] experience. So for an Intel user, we'll kind of have the best of both worlds. So we think we're extraordinarily well-positioned in Windows 8."

James also reminded her audience that Intel and Microsoft are closely intertwined. "We've been working with Microsoft on Windows for probably 20 years, this year. We've been their partner for a long time – everybody writes about it, everybody talks about it," she said.

"But what you may not know," she continued, "is that we have an on-site development team in Redmond that actually works deep inside the OS to make sure that the platforms, and the features, and the new instructions – whatever new thing we're inventing – is ready to go at the time of introduction of the latest Microsoft environment."

James is bullish on Windows 8. "We've been working for the last couple of years – very, very focused – on Windows 8," she said. "I'm very excited about it. We've been working on it for a long time. There's a lot of exciting new features and things about it that I think are going to be great for users, great for the PC and tablet industry."

One major reason why James believes that Intel is not threatened by Windows 8 on ARM is the fact that x86 apps and services will work across mutilple platforms, from pocketable devices to smart TVs to notebooks to PCs to servers.

"Intel has a unified architecture," she said. "What that means is that applications and operating systems can run from one generation of Intel platform to the next generation, and the same applications are going to run, forward- and backward-compatible.

"You can run the same application between different versions of our architecture – between Atom, between Xeon, between Core – which is not the case for our competitors in the ARM ecosystem."

Intel is unified, James said, but ARM is Balkanized. "Windows 8 for x86 will run legacy, Windows 8 for x86 will run SoC." In the ARM-based world, she said, things won't be as simple. "There will be four Windows 8 SoCs for ARM. Each one will run for that specific ARM environment, and they will run new applications or cloud-based applications.

"They are neither forward- nor backward-compatible between their own architecture – different generations of a single vendor – nor are they compatible across different vendors. Each one is a unique stack," she added.

What's more, James is not at all convinced that users will flock to an ARM-based, non-legacy PC experience. "People do not change their usage models that frequently," she said. "We've done a lot of studies – you go back and you look, and on average it's about 10 years between people changing their usage patterns.

"So even though we see a huge change in the way people are using applications from the cloud, there's still a long tail on legacy – something that's uniquely a value proposition from Intel."

Of course, one could argue that a smartphone or tablet is most assuredly a new usage model, but James believes that the interconnectedness of a broad range of devices all speaking the same language – x86 – will assure Intel's dominance in a world invaded by ARM devices running Windows 8 without legacy-app support.

"For the client," she said, "compatibility and legacy, we think, is a very important value proposition, certainly in the enterprise for IT managers, and also for consumers for probably a significant number of years into the future." ®

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
Apple fanbois SCREAM as update BRICKS their Macbook Airs
Ragegasm spills over as firmware upgrade kills machines
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
NO MORE ALL CAPS and other pleasures of Visual Studio 14
Unpicking a packed preview that breaks down ASP.NET
Captain Kirk sets phaser to SLAUGHTER after trying new Facebook app
William Shatner less-than-impressed by Zuck's celebrity-only app
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
EU dons gloves, pokes Google's deals with Android mobe makers
El Reg cops a squint at investigatory letters
Chrome browser has been DRAINING PC batteries for YEARS
Google is only now fixing ancient, energy-sapping bug
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.