While Microsoft has been describing its coming Windows 8 operating system as a single-platform solution across devices, and has this week touted its support for Windows 7 apps, it turns out the truth is a bit more complicated.
In a conference call Wednesday with analysts, Microsoft Windows division President Steven Sinofsky revealed that Windows 8 on ARM-based devices will only run Windows 8 Metro apps, not legacy apps.
Company officials have been specifically saying or indicating that anything written for Windows 7 would run on Windows 8, but that's not exactly the case. In the analysts call, a questioner said that Sinofsky had previously mentioned that "legacy applications will be able to run on Windows 8 regardless of the chipset that people are using." This led to a question as to whether some emulator or app virtualization was being used.
Metro and x86 Apps
Sinofsky responded that he didn't believe he had "said quite that." First, he recalled his previous comments as saying that "if it runs on a Windows 7 PC, it'll run on Windows 8," but, he added, the implication he was making was that 8 was running on a x86 machine, as 7 does. Windows 7 does not run on ARM platforms.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told a developers' conference on Wednesday that one of Windows 8's advantages would be that there would be 500 million devices with the OS. However, some significant portion of those Windows 8 devices would be ARM-based, meaning some differences in which apps ran on which devices.
In the spring, an Intel executive's comments were criticized by Microsoft as being "inaccurate and unfortunately misleading" when she said that legacy Windows apps would not run on ARM-based Windows devices.
Sinofsky said that the company has been "very clear since the first CES demos and forward that the ARM product won't run any x86 applications." The company announced earlier this week, he said, that "when you write a Metro style application" for 8, the developer tools are available to "automatically support ARM or x86."
'A Large Mess for Consumers'
Avi Greengart, an analyst with industry research firm Current Analysis, said Microsoft's strategy was still different from that of Apple, which has chosen to maintain one operating system, iOS, for its mobile, touch-based devices, and another, OS X, for its keyboard-, mouse- and touchpad-based computers.
Greengart said Windows 8 does have some unity across platforms, but "the ARM and the Intel thing will be a large mess for consumers." Microsoft will help sort this mess out, he said, by having an online store that "shows only apps relevant to the platform you're on."
Greengart noted that developers, if they wanted to, could use their tools to create apps for ARM that don't use the Metro style of touch-screen interaction and tiles, including porting legacy apps to that platform. He also pointed out that, while Microsoft has received some criticism for unveiling Windows 8 a dozen to 18 months before its release, it's clear it is being done "not only to let investors know they have a plan, but to give developers the time to start new apps" or adapt legacy apps.
Posted: 2011-09-16 @ 2:33pm PT
I have installed Windows 8 on a PC. It does a lot of things very well and seems to be stable. I think they are closer to release than most people think.
1) Extremely quick boot from a cold start.
2) The operating system is very fast.
3) Graphics are very nice.
They need to release a user manual in a pdf format or Word format.