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Windows 8 ARM Marches Forward

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Unnamed sources have reported to CNET affiliated writer Brooke Crothers that Windows 8 is stable on the ARM platform and is headed to developers in February.  This is a significant shift as previous reports indicated the ARM edition was unstable and would have to trail the Intel edition's release.

"In October of last year. [Windows 8 on ARM] scared the industry because it was unstable. But what we are seeing now is quite stable," said another source, who also confirmed an expected February developer time frame. We haven't heard this directly from Microsoft, but we've heard this from the hardware partners that [Microsoft] is working with. We've been promised something in the February time frame..."

It is difficult to quantify the improvement given that it is unclear as to the magnitude of the original instability, but it is encouraging that developers that will soon be able to explore the build firsthand. More interestingly for Intel are the comments that the upcoming ARM-based devices are said to be much cheaper than equivalently featured Intel powered models. 

"The bigger implication is, with [Intel-based] ultrabooks you're popularizing the idea that you have this thinner design that turns on faster, that lasts longer [battery life]--but then you have Windows 8 on ARM that's built at a price point that's much lower. And does all of those things too. This is setting up the ultrabook to head right into the teeth of their [ARM] competitor," according to the source.

Price and performance is not the only area Intel may feel pressure from ARM-based devices. Crothers' sources go on to dispute a previous report that the Windows 8 ARM release date would be later than the Intel-build. While Microsoft has not issued an official statement, it is now felt that the ARM edition could be released side-by-side with the Intel edition.

On the application front, rumors indicate that Microsoft Office is running on ARM but this has not been confirmed by first-hand sources. Legacy Windows software (designed for Win7/Vista/WinXP/etc) will require a recompile if not extensive redevelopment in order to run on the ARM based Windows. This requirement may be one of the primary motivations for Microsoft to promote Metro-style applications built using HTML5 and JavaScript to developers.


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