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Microsoft Details Windows 8 for ARM

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the getting-the-scoop dept.

Microsoft 372

MrSeb writes "In an 8,000-word treatise, Steven Sinofksy himself has taken up pen and paper to describe Windows 8 on ARM (WOA) in great detail. There's a lot of good stuff in there, but one point is particularly troubling. Quoting Sinofsky: 'WOA does not support running, emulating, or porting existing x86/64 desktop apps. Code that uses only system or OS services from WinRT can be used within an app and distributed through the Windows Store for both WOA and x86/64. Consumers obtain all [WOA] software, including device drivers, through the Windows Store and Microsoft Update or Windows Update.' It's hard to under-emphasize just how huge a change that is. It's one thing to say that ARM CPUs won't support x86 emulation; something else entirely to split software delivery and installation. Up until now, one of the biggest differences between desktop and mobile operating systems has been the ability to install software. It's true that Microsoft's decision to wall off unapproved software installation is similar to the approach of Android and iOS — but iOS isn't the same thing as OS X. Combining both of these decisions under the 'Windows' brand could be disastrous, not because Microsoft is evil, but because it creates two entirely different user experiences on the basis of which ISA your CPU supports."

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Please, (5, Funny)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#38994397)

May we have the old Borg icon back for this story?

Re:Please, (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38994451)

Sorry, the Borg only operates on x86/64 machines

Re:Please, (1)

Gideon Wells (1412675) | more than 2 years ago | (#38994519)

Why? So far t his is just the ARM version. It sounds more like they just are going the cheap route, and not fulling integrating the ARM version with their Intel version.

Basically to my thinking:
A) Other Win8 versions have these features, then this is laziness. No borg icon warrented.
B) All Win8 versions lack these features (then why the big deal about the ARM version?), then this is a closing of the walls intentionally for a purpose. Borg icon deserved.

Re:Please, (5, Funny)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 2 years ago | (#38994729)

...this is laziness. No borg icon warrented.

Maybe a slacker borg with an arm replaced by a bong: "Dude, where's my cube?"

Re:Please, (1, Informative)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 2 years ago | (#38994537)

I say no borg icon, because Microsoft is irrelevant.

Re:Please, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38994687)

You're right, the world runs* on OSX, cheap aluminum Foxconn crap is perfectly suited to everyone's needs.

*Technically, the world runs on Linux and Sun Microsystems, but the rest of the world is definitely Windows-based.

Re:Please, (0)

StuartHankins (1020819) | more than 2 years ago | (#38995145)

Much like a chicken after the axe has fallen, the body is still temporarily alive but the brain is dead. Just give it a minute to catch up to reality.

Re:Please, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38994679)

no, we should have a monkey throwing chairs instead.

Re:Please, (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38994683)

No..

MS is doing their own thing, and guess what, you don't have to buy it. The only Borg here is SlashDot and its hive mind.

Mircosoft are faget (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38994867)

Mircosoft are faget worse than Borg. They should have faget rainbow icon haha.

Re:Please, (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 2 years ago | (#38994871)

This is a feel sorry for Windows developers article not a Microsoft is screwing people article. Not to say Microsoft developers aren't people. When Microsoft's ARM products come out locked down to only allow Windows to be installed I'm sure /. will post that article with the borge icon.

Re:Please, (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38995201)

May we have the old Borg icon back for this story?

No, the old borg icon had the Bill Gates face, a guy that since then has saved millons of lives. He deserve a better icon.

Well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38994411)

We'll see how this develops. I could not imagine MSFT shooting themselves in both feet this way. Especially since there still will be W8P after W7P.

But if they stick to it, I'm sure corporate users are the ones who will think twice about it. The only thing is, they will think twice in about ten years, since they are corporate...

Re:Well (1)

TheMathemagician (2515102) | more than 2 years ago | (#38994495)

Why not? It's MSFT. They're pretty adept at breaking their own products. Don't knock "corporate" users. It was corporates who ensured Vista suffered a premature death.

Re:Well (4, Interesting)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 2 years ago | (#38994657)

It's possible that this is the first step toward leaving 'Windows legacy applications' behind. They are going to have to do it sometime, and ARM isn't similar to x86 like Atom is, so this may be a logical starting point.

At some point (Windows 9? Windows 10??) Microsoft is going to need to leave older applications behind to fully transition to the 'Metro' platform/paradigm. This probably will include the desktop .Net frameworks and other MS technologies, libraries, etc. It's not necessarily a bad thing, but it is going to be a significant change and a lot of work for software companies.

Re:Well (4, Insightful)

DickBreath (207180) | more than 2 years ago | (#38994763)

You are probably right.

That is why I believe WOA will fail.

Leaving the legacy applications behind means WOA is a new platform. Starting basically from scratch. Competing with already entrenched players (iOS and Android). It starts off with little third party software where iOS and Android already have a huge base of developers.

Re:Well (4, Insightful)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | more than 2 years ago | (#38994795)

It's possible that this is the first step toward leaving 'Windows legacy applications' behind. They are going to have to do it sometime, and ARM isn't similar to x86 like Atom is, so this may be a logical starting point.

Exactly. It's legacy software that's tied mainstream computing to the x86 architecture for two decades. Tthe x86 is a power-hungry architecture best suited for desktop and rack computing, but recent trends are towards mobile computing. Laptops started to outsell desktops. Netbooks hit the market. Smartphones reached a level where they could be used as complete computers. And the Tablet PC concept, which had been bubbling under for over a decade, finally found it's niche as a "maxi-smartphone". x86 is dead, and MS need to encourage people to produce standardised, architecture-neutral code if they're going to migrate to another architecture.

If they don't migrate to another architecture, what happens? Smartphones with HDMI out (and a built-in focus-free laset picoprojector) and Bluetooth or USB for keyboards and mice displace the traditional computer. If Windows is still split between phone and desktop, Windows dies.

So why the separation between desktop and phone OS? Why WOA an not just maintain their ARM version as Windows Phone? Because right now, phone apps are phone apps, and desktop apps are desktop apps. An OS lives and dies on its third party software, and this move is calculated to ensure that there is a back catalogue of desktop software available when the two paradigms merge.

It's a smart move, and shows a lot of foresight. Google should take note, and start working on standardised compatibility layers that encourage Linux app developers to produce software that can be easily migrated to Android.

Re:Well (5, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38995027)

Exactly. It's legacy software that's tied mainstream computing to the x86 architecture for two decades.

It's legacy software that's tied people to Windows for two decades. Break the compatibility and no-one needs Windows any more.

Re:Well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38995121)

I do not see a problem. Nothing on Mac OS X can run on iOS, why should MSFT be any different.

What they really need to do is start looking at Servers differently from Workstations/Laptops differently from smartphones/tablets. One piece of software does not need to run across all 3 nor should it. I am so tired of people who think they are going to get a tablet to replace their computer and then whine about missing the keyboard.

The reason why Linux is so good for servers is that you should rarely need to interact with the server since it main purpose is to serve things to users. CLI or a simple GUI for administration is all that is really needed on a server. The GUI admin could even be a app you install on your workstation/laptop.

Re:Well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38995175)

ARM isn't similar to x86 like Atom is, so this may be a logical starting point.

As someone running Debian on Arm, the end user experience is effectively the same. The only difference is if you require closed source binary software or hardware that requires closed source binary drivers. Other than that, Linux on Arm and Linux on any other architecture are remarkably similar. Just recompile the code...

Why is this relevant? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38994413)

No one will ever use Windows on ARM anyway, so I'm not sure how _any_ news of limitations is relevant.

Re:Why is this relevant? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38994485)

No one will ever use Windows on ARM anyway, so I'm not sure how _any_ news of limitations is relevant.

arm is a nice plattform...

Re:Why is this relevant? (4, Insightful)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#38994493)

Depends how good their marketing department is. Remember, they can afford to lose a few hundred million dollars a year in that department for however long it takes to turn it into something profitable, and they have a history of using their successful products as tools to drive users to their unsuccessful products.

Re:Why is this relevant? (1)

unixisc (2429386) | more than 2 years ago | (#38994803)

Nokia has been marketing the hell out of Lumia, but I haven't seen too many of those around.

Re:Why is this relevant? (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | more than 2 years ago | (#38994947)

The new, more identifiable 800 & 900 models aren't even for sale yet...

Zune. (1)

Daniel Phillips (238627) | more than 2 years ago | (#38995029)

Zune.

Re:Why is this relevant? (1)

DickBreath (207180) | more than 2 years ago | (#38994605)

> No one will ever use Windows on ARM anyway, so I'm not sure how _any_ news of limitations is relevant.

You are wrong sir. There are Windows fanboys who will use Windows on ARM because, of, um, er..., well, because it is from Microsoft! That's why!

But seriously, see my Chicken and Egg post I wrote a few minutes ago here. I agree. WOA is not going anywhere. Nobody will use it.

Hint: it's the third party apps! Lots of very important legacy business applications are written in languages, tools and technologies that may never be ported to WOA. For example, do you expect Visual Basic 6, Visual FoxPro or Delphi to be on WOA?

Re:Why is this relevant? (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 2 years ago | (#38994677)

Hint: it's the third party apps! Lots of very important legacy business applications are written in languages, tools and technologies that may never be ported to WOA. For example, do you expect Visual Basic 6, Visual FoxPro or Delphi to be on WOA?

No VB 6 & FP emulator on WOA? That's gotta be a deal breaker for some of us.

Re:Why is this relevant? (2)

DickBreath (207180) | more than 2 years ago | (#38994801)

> That's gotta be a deal breaker for some of us.

Don't know if you're being sarcastic. It is a deal breaker for some. While VB6, VFP etc may not be sexy, a lot of legacy software are written in those.

Re:Why is this relevant? (0)

dimeglio (456244) | more than 2 years ago | (#38994689)

I hope confusing clients is a proven marketing tactic because MS is going at it full force.

Re:Why is this relevant? (2)

sed quid in infernos (1167989) | more than 2 years ago | (#38994723)

A hybrid device, like an Asus Transformer, that allows me to run a full version of Office that works well with a mouse and keyboard on a portable device that has the media consumption abilities I use a tablet for (video, music, books, comics) and has battery sufficient for 8 to 12 hours use? Yes, please.

It remains to be seen if MS and the hardware providers can deliver that, but there are significant professional use cases for such a device, in addition to the obvious consumer ones. Especially if document folders sync transparently.

Sure, I'd prefer it if the device could have a real intel chip, so I could run all my software. But that seems at least one chip generation away.

Re:Why is this relevant? (1)

DickBreath (207180) | more than 2 years ago | (#38994941)

Speaking of professional use cases. Do you think software such as AutoCAD, or Adobe Creative Suite, or um, Maya, or other highly vertical application software will be ported to WOA?

Platforms like Android and iOS, which are already entrenched (and have actual devices today like the Asus Transformer), are suddenly at a huge competitive advantage in attracting third party developers. If Microsoft is making you re-think your application for WOA, then why not also re-think it for Android / iOS which already have the momentum?

Re:Why is this relevant? (4, Interesting)

sed quid in infernos (1167989) | more than 2 years ago | (#38995111)

No to AutoCAD and Maya, probably no to full versions of ACS (but maybe a lighter suite). If this works for Microsoft, I think it will work like this: some people who want to travel light but want full Office productivity will buy WOA devices. This popularity will spur app development, including some enterprise integration. Developers will start releasing more apps for Win8 (which, remember, will also work on new Intel/AMD Win8 machines, so there will quickly be a large installed base).

Android and iOs have had years to get a decent office app out; they haven't done it yet. And a big part of this is good mouse/keyboard interface - drag and drop, mouse-click-popup menus, consistent highlighting/copy/paste, etc. So if MS gets a 12 month lead on real Office software, it might overcome the iOs/Android head start for a certain class of users.

Note the "If" at the start of my speculation. I don't know if this will happen, but it seems more than just possible.

Re:Why is this relevant? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38995167)

Sure, it will only be $2000.

More! (1, Insightful)

AntEater (16627) | more than 2 years ago | (#38994441)

Combining both of these decisions under the 'Windows' brand could be disastrous...

I, for one, welcome more disasterous actions from our anti-trust overlords.

not because Microsoft is evil,

Obviously, someone is very inexperienced in this field.

Re:More! (3, Insightful)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 2 years ago | (#38994631)

He wasn't saying that Microsoft isn't evil, only that their evilness or lack thereof is irrelevant to the point he is currently trying to make.

Think asus transformer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38994449)

Think asus transformer like device, but instead of android, windows 8 with both "touch native" metro apps and regular windows+office for some stuff. With battery life similar to ipad.

The limitation that software can only be gotten from microsoft store may matter to some. How about getting a device with x86 windows 8 then.

Re:Think asus transformer (1)

DickBreath (207180) | more than 2 years ago | (#38994641)

The problem with expecting WOA to succeed is that Android is already a successful platform. 200 Million installed base, with 700,000 activations per day (or 8.1 activations per second).

WOA is starting out as the new guy on the block with no software base. How much third party software will be available for WOA? How much legacy software will be available? The entire value proposition of Windows is the huge important legacy software base it runs. (I don't mean games. I mean business applications.) Will the specialty software that is sued by the Bakery, or the Quick Oil Change place be available for WOA?

Re:Think asus transformer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38994747)

Android is a sucessful platform... in the phone market.
Android tablet sales have consistently been disappointing.

Re:Think asus transformer (1)

dimeglio (456244) | more than 2 years ago | (#38994915)

Android doesn't have Microsoft's office suite. Those Android activations are mainly for smartphones and not tablets. So Android is beating WP7 for certain.

And Kindle Fire (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#38995059)

Those Android activations are mainly for smartphones and not tablets.

Shouldn't you be including Kindle Fire tablets in your tally, even if they can't run Market-exclusive applications? Or by "activations" should one read only "cellular activations"?

there are other ARM options.. (4, Interesting)

apodyopsis (1048476) | more than 2 years ago | (#38994479)

http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/news/2012/01/new-kde-tablet-to-liberate-linux-enthusiasts-from-walled-garden.ars [arstechnica.com]

Suddenly one of these is looking tempting for my tablet needs.

I did have an ASUS transformer for a few months but I sold it to a friend as I was unhappy with the way Android does things. I have an iPhone and whilst I think iOS is very clever I'm not convinced I would want it in a larger form factor. I want to be able to write code, play with software and be the master of my own system to a level that Android and iOS does not seem to happy with. I was wondering is an ARM Win8 tablet was the way forward - but this seems to rule of that option :(

I admit some Linux bias as I only use it at home and coding on it (armel linux) forms a large part of my job as well.

Re:there are other ARM options.. (4, Funny)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#38994547)

So, Spark ships with Plasma Active pre-installed, which is nice.

Can't Plasma Active be installed on any number of tablets? I'm thinking of the RockBox / DD-WRT experience for tablets instead of Music players / Routers.

As for Win8 Arm gaining the walled garden "feature" of iOS... good luck with that. I'll write code for Win8 on Arm when I can do it using the Qt API.

because it has been so bad for iOS (-1, Offtopic)

alen (225700) | more than 2 years ago | (#38994503)

Once a year we get some proof of concept iOS hack that never goes anywhere. and once a month there is a story of millions of people infected with android malware right from the android market

Re:because it has been so bad for iOS (1)

Gaygirlie (1657131) | more than 2 years ago | (#38994731)

You're completely missing the point there, mate. May I suggest working on your reading-comprehension?

Re:because it has been so bad for iOS (1)

unixisc (2429386) | more than 2 years ago | (#38994969)

There hasn't been as big a legacy apps issue w/ Macs the way there has been w/ Windows, probably due to the fact that Apple has undergone some major transitions in the same time that Wintel apps have just been accumulating. First they had 68k -> PPC, then they had MacOS -> OS-X, then they had PPC -> x64. Also, the people who came to the iPhone and iPad were not necessarily Mac users - I'll doubt that even the majority are - but came from other places. I can easily see that people who were users of the iPod Touch would easily have gone to the iPhone, and similarly, people who used the iPhone would have something additional from the iPad. Also, given that once you get an iPad, that's all you need to get all the software you need is a huge advantage. I do agree that the lack of USB connections to things like, say, printers, is a problem, but aside from that, the majority of iPad or iPhone owners probably don't even own a Mac for this to be a big issue.

With Windows, the brand association is different. When you give somebody a device that runs Windows, the expectation WILL BE that it will run Wintel apps. And once a new experience is introduced in the market that it doesn't, it'll sink the Windows brand like nothing else ever could. Does one think that the average Joe is going to ask - is there an ARM or an Atom in this sheet? Once that level of uncertainity is introduced, it will do more damage to the Windows brand than even the Feds intervening & splitting up MS ever could. The latter wouldn't change the meaning of whether Windows boxes can run Windows apps, but this one definitely would!

Obvious problem is the drivers (3, Insightful)

laffer1 (701823) | more than 2 years ago | (#38994505)

It's scary that you have to get drivers through the windows store. That means you could never get some new arm hardware running with windows as a hobbyist or try some third party driver when the default crashes. It also means that it might be harder to upgrade windows on some devices as microsoft could block you from getting drivers for the current windows release.

The ARM port is truly a hardware lock-in. I hope it fails.

Re:Obvious *benefit* is the drivers (5, Interesting)

sunderland56 (621843) | more than 2 years ago | (#38994749)

Drivers are the largest problem with x86 Windows - well over 50% of the stability problems and blue screens come from badly written drivers. Microsoft has a process to submit a driver to their labs for testing and approval today - but (a) they make it insanely difficult and expensive, and (b) the market doesn't care whether a driver is approved or not.

Drivers are also the largest security hole there is - a kernel module has full and complete access to your system. People claim to be concerned about security, but then install third party drivers without a second thought.

Overall, it looks like Microsoft is doing exactly what people have been asking for - a more secure Windows environment. Locking down software to approved sources only, and getting rid of creakingly old APIs that date back to Windows 3.1, will make it faster, more stable, and more secure - but now people are complaining.

Note that for the hardware/software developers - hobbyist or professional - there will be a developer switch, to turn off security and allow you to load unsigned/unapproved programs and drivers.

User-mode drivers (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#38995095)

Drivers are also the largest security hole there is - a kernel module has full and complete access to your system.

Then perhaps Microsoft should expand its own user-mode driver framework instead of running all drivers in kernel mode and monopolizing their distribution. At least under Linux, device classes with user-mode drivers include printers (CUPS), scanners (SANE), video (X), and even installable file systems (FUSE).

Re:Obvious problem is the drivers (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 2 years ago | (#38994999)

Agreed. It is a light at the end of a tunnel playing the evil Windows start up jingle.

I've heard that before... (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 2 years ago | (#38994509)

It's hard to under-emphasize just how huge a change that is.

I've heard that phrase before, from MS. Last times they've said that, they couldn't release and the product flopped.

When is their release date again?

Fracturing (5, Insightful)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 2 years ago | (#38994523)

Y'know, for all I hear about Linux being so fractured, I'd expect to see more coherence from Microsoft and Apple.

The vast majority of distros differ in small ways, but they all work with mostly the same paradigms. To install software, you usually install a package from a repository. To add something not in the repositories, it's usually "./configure; make; make install".

Looking at the Windows world, there's worse fracturing, but because it's all under one brand, it's somehow okay. Inter-process communication is done with DDE - no, wait - OLE. I mean sockets. Really .NET has its own IPC and you should use that now. On one system, you install with an executable file obtained from the vendor. On another system, you install through a storefront.

At least Linux accepts that it's fractured, and each distro often learns from the others.

Re:Fracturing (2, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#38995129)

Inter-process communication is done with DDE - no, wait - OLE. I mean sockets. Really .NET has its own IPC and you should use that now.

So should a UNIX program use pipes, X11 Inter-Client Exchange (basis for DCOP), Bonobo, or DBUS?

Chicken and Egg problem (4, Insightful)

DickBreath (207180) | more than 2 years ago | (#38994525)

The value of Windows is the huge legacy software collection that it runs.

A "windows" platform that cannot run that software base is basically a new platform. Starting from scratch. Sort of like a new version of Linux, or Hurd, or something new.

Microsoft may port their own apps. Great. But what about third parties?

There is .NET, of course. But apps written in .NET would be fairly new apps. What about apps written in older languages? Some apps may be trivially recompiled. Or recompiled after significant effort. But some apps may be slightly or even deeply wedded to the x86 and maybe x64 architectures.

Other apps may be wedded to legacy languages that may not get ported. Will Microsoft be porting Visual Basic 6? Visual FoxPro? What about Delphi? Etc.

Even if a developer can fairly trivially build their app for WOA, why would they if there is not a large user base on that platform ready to fork over money? The developer has to expend effort (eg cost) today on a platform where customer demand may not materialize. If WOA doesn't run an end user's favorite legacy applications, then why would the user want to migrate to WOA? It's cheap and easy to buy a desktop or laptop running legacy Windows that is familiar and runs your legacy apps.

WOA has a chicken and egg problem. Which came first? The large number of third party apps / developers supporting WOA? Or the large end user base running WOA?

Furthermore, a developer who expends effort to port their product to WOA, even if "porting" is little more than a trivial recompile and repackaging, and tracking new SKU's, that developer will want to be compensated for that additional effort. You can bet that developer will want top dollar (eg price gouging) for that new WOA edition of their product. Do you really think you'll see a $99 Photoshop on WOA? Also don't expect a free upgrade to the WOA edition of your current application.

WOA may be Microsoft's counterpart of the PS/2 moment. The market may "just say no" (as they say in the '80's). The problem with PS/2 was that it was nothing more than an attempt to recapture IBM's monopoly using a new platform. That is what WOA is. Microsoft wants their legacy monopoly on these new mobile ARM platforms, just as IBM wanted their legacy mainframe monopoly in the PC market.

Another problem is that these new platforms are fundamentally different. They bring things that legacy PC's don't have deeply baked into the system and applications. Android for example can support both the legacy keyboard / mouse setup as well as touchscreen and voice commands. Those pesky new PC's offered a lot more than a mainframe terminal had, such as mouse and GUI. Oh, and cheap software, just as the new platform app stores offer pretty cheap apps.

Want to see WOA go exactly nowhere? There's an app for that!

Base it on x64 (1)

unixisc (2429386) | more than 2 years ago | (#38994739)

The only way OEMs who are making Windows 8 phones and tablets can save themselves - and in the process Microsoft as well - is build their phones around Fusion, Medfield and any other x86 compabible CPUs that anyone might make. That way, ISVs can at least make an attempt to allow their Wintel titles to be installed on tablets, and as far as phones go, ISVs might allow client sides of client-server apps to be supported on Windows 8 phones.

For instance, lets say a company has SharePoint running on its servers, and its employees all have SharePoint access on their laptops. Now that company may have off-site employees (such as Sales personnel) having Windows 8 tablets, and onsite executives w/ Windows 8 phones, who may need to check into the VPN and access their SharePoint data @ different places. That is one of the few places where it could make sense to prefer Windows 8 to iPads or Androids, since there is an issue of compatibility w/ office software that comes in.

But all this would work IFF the Windows 8 tablets and phones would be x86 based, which would minimize any work needed to support the organizations existing software infrastructure. But if they base it on ARM, such a plan would be a non-starter.

Re:Chicken and Egg problem (2)

DickBreath (207180) | more than 2 years ago | (#38994901)

To add to my argument (parent post), I would like to add . . .

Both iOS and Android are already entrenched. WOA is starting out with zilch third party software. Android has 200 million installed base and 700,000 activations per day (or 8.1 per second). WOA isn't even reality yet.

As others point out, what about drivers? How are you going to get third party device drivers for WOA? (Of course, in fairness, this question could be asked for Android and iOS as well. But I think expectations of an iOS / Android device are different than something branded "Windows".)

I mentioned languages like VB6, VFP, Delphi, etc. Some scoff at that. I'm not saying they are sexy, I'm just saying that a lot of software that makes the world go around is written in those non sexy tools.

Re:Chicken and Egg problem (1)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | more than 2 years ago | (#38994961)

WOA has a chicken and egg problem. Which came first? The large number of third party apps / developers supporting WOA? Or the large end user base running WOA?

I think WOA is actually an attempt to avoid a future chicken-and-egg problem. As I said in another post, the current trend in computing is heading towards convergence of personal computing and mobile computing. No smartphones or smartphone-derived tablets currently have any real quantities of desktop-replacement apps. When the convergence comes, whichever OS has the most productivity software (as it was referred to way-back-when) will have a massive advantage.

In order for this to work, Microsoft don't need every vendor to port their software to WOA, they just need a few, because they just need more apps than their competitors. LibreOffice is being ported to Android and iOS. MS Office will be available for WOA, and will therefore be easily converted to run on post-convergence-Windows. Tie. Any apps beyond this are a bonus.

Re:Chicken and Egg problem (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38995047)

No smartphones or smartphone-derived tablets currently have any real quantities of desktop-replacement apps.

I totally want to run Word on my phone.

Re:Chicken and Egg problem (1)

DickBreath (207180) | more than 2 years ago | (#38995231)

I strongly agree with your point about convergence of desktop and mobile. I just believe Windows isn't the OS that will bring it.

Your point is well made about lack of significant numbers of desktop-replacement apps. But then, neither does WOA. If Microsoft is making developers have to re-think their app, their UI, and perhaps their development tools, and how they even get their product marketed and delivered to the consumer, then maybe those developers will recognize that they can equally re-think all of these things in terms of iOS and/or Android. And those two OSes are already significantly entrenched, while WOA isn't even a reality yet.

> LibreOffice is being ported to Android and iOS.

Yes, I am aware of this.

> Tie. Any apps beyond this are a bonus.

I don't think it is a tie. I think Microsoft is way, way behind. iOS and Android already have huge numbers of apps, but more importantly, a huge third party developer base. Developers who have already significantly re-thought their apps for the new type of platform. The new UI style. The fact that touchscreen, gestures and multi-touch and voice commands are a given -- in addition to working with a keyboard, and pointing device(s). Most traditional Windows developers have not yet or only just begun to think about these concepts. I am thinking that if a developer has to significantly re-think their application for the new style platforms, then iOS and Android are the hands down winners.

A developer who thinks they can port their existing Windows application to WOA is falling into exactly the trap of developers when the Macintosh came out in 1984. You had to significantly re-think your application. Those who thought they could just port their text based app found out the hard way that this didn't work out so well. I liken this to shoehorning a traditional Windows GUI into a modern tablet. Yuk. So re-thinking is a must, for a successful application. Therefore, WOA loses, IMO.

Don't see the big deal (3, Insightful)

ArchieBunker (132337) | more than 2 years ago | (#38994527)

You don't like these new terms? Well then don't fucking buy it then. I fail to see the outrage here... Sounds exactly like the Apple walled garden approach.

Re:Don't see the big deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38994619)

Exactly. I think we should all agree to skip over this version just like we did with WinME. Not that it taught them a lesson.

Re:Don't see the big deal (1)

Gaygirlie (1657131) | more than 2 years ago | (#38994767)

You too are missing the point: Microsoft is selling Windows 8 and Windows 8, general end-users only see "Windows" and obviously assume that one Windows works as the other Windows does. It will be fiendishly confusing for the general populace. If Microsoft is going to make the two different versions so very different from eachother it might have been a good idea to sell the ARM-version with a completely different brand-name.

Re:Don't see the big deal (1)

DickBreath (207180) | more than 2 years ago | (#38995063)

My preference would be to see Windows 8 devices have no distinguishing marking to differentiate between x86 / x64 devices and ARM devices. An Asus Transformer like device that has an ARM processor, that Jane Q Public thinks will run her existing legacy Windows software. Yeah, that will go over like, um, well, like a PS/2, or like a lead balloon.

Re:Don't see the big deal (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#38995185)

You don't like these new terms? Well then don't fucking buy it then.

So what should one buy instead of this product if Microsoft starts suing Android tablet makers for patent infringement?

Let it begin... (5, Interesting)

neokushan (932374) | more than 2 years ago | (#38994549)

Whenever the first tidbits of the UEFI secure boot cropped up that many people immediately cried foul over, I was one of the people who stood up and said "Not so fast, everyone - it's mandated that it be enabled by default, but there's nothing to say you can't customise it or disable it". Many people were quick to jump on MS, stating that it's just to stop Linux adoption and such and still I persisted in saying that MS wasn't the bad guy, if you didn't have an option to disable UEFI secure boot, it was the OEM or motherboard manufacturer at fault, not MS. I got into many heated debates about this point.

However, that was regarding Windows 8 x86/64.

Windows on ARM will demand that UEFI secure boot be enabled and that there is no way to disable it. Any Windows ARM tablets or PCs that come out will not be capable of running anything other than Windows - not Linux, not Android, nothing. Since Windows ARM won't be sold directly, it means there will be absolutely no way to buy a Windows ARM machine that runs other OS's - not even if you built one yourself.

It is with this that I retract any previous objections to people crying foul over the UEFI Secure boot malarkey. Even though Windows 8 x86/64 is still "fine", the issue of the ARM version is too great to ignore. So by all means, commence flaming.

Re:Let it begin... (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#38994669)

vote with your cash.

I will.

honestly though I'm surprised they're even going to allow regular "desktop" and programs on the arm windows, I genuinely thought they would just go through shitty windows phone/zune type of system there to avoid fucking up the windows brand.

now back to installing virtualbox to run some legacy os to run some obscure modelling program..

Re:Let it begin... (1)

Daniel Phillips (238627) | more than 2 years ago | (#38995125)

Sure, it's foul. It's Microsoft, what do you expect? However since this product is highly likely just to wither and die with a wimper I do not think the damage from Microsoft's latest insult to you, me and the rule of law will be extensive or long lasting.

Re:Let it begin... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38995187)

I think what we're seeing with Windows on ARM is the future plans Microsoft has for Windows. They want to move away from the computer being a general computing device with which you can do anything you want, and turn it into an appliance with which you can run a few Microsoft approved applications.
With this Microsoft will stop a lot of complaints about Windows being unstable, slow, &c. Even though these problems were not the fault of Windows but of dubious software the user installed (and thus ultimately the fault of the user) the operating system somehow always gets the blame. The user won't mind not being able to install said software however, because most of the time they installed such software, they did so even though they knew they didn't want to. (Don't give me crap about installing things "accidentally"; I've worked for tech support. What happens is this: user sees porn.zip.exe, double clicks. Windows warns you about dangerous files from the internet. They know they have had trouble in the past, they know they don't want to, but they watch helplessly as their hand moves and clicks the button.) The New Windows will protect users from themselves and they like that. People don't want the freedom to do things they know are stupid, but that they known they will do anyway.
With the New Windows, Microsoft will also gain a strategic point of control which could be monetised or otherwise exploited in the future.
For most people this is just fine. They only browse the web and type a letter or two and possibly play a game; you can bet Word and popular games are in the application, sorry, app store. Niche users are SOL but they are not a sufficiently big demographic to make Microsoft care about them. They don't matter and if at some point it becomes impossible (or prohibitively expensive or complicated) to buy an unlocked computer that's just too bad for them. Nobody cares for minorities; if anything they look down upon them. Don't expect sympathy if you complain to your friends in 2050 that you can't buy a computer that will run Linux or some obscure software package.

Software distribution (1)

willaien (2494962) | more than 2 years ago | (#38994573)

I have some serious issues with their software distribution method. I'm seriously considering boycotting Windows 8 entirely - unless forced to use it.

The new metro interface is useless for desktops and laptops, and the one area where it would shine - tablets - is going to be crippled from my perspective.

Flip-Flops (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38994597)

Just think of it this way. Windows XP was good. Vista sucked. Windows 7 is pretty nice. Windows 8 will blow. Microsoft just alternates good and bad for their releases. Remember this and you'll be a lot happier and have more realistic expectations.

Point of no return (3, Interesting)

unixisc (2429386) | more than 2 years ago | (#38994777)

There may not be a Windows 9 if Microsoft blows this one, since it will permanently throw a question-mark on the Windows brand on whether a particular Windows from Microsoft runs Windows applications or not. The same problem that Linux has - where certain applications can't be installed on certain combinations of the Linux kernel & libraries based on certain dependencies - but only worse: w/ the Linux case, one can at least get all the versions of every library that may be needed, but there will be no way of making Wintel apps run on ARM.

Re:Flip-Flops (1)

stx23 (14942) | more than 2 years ago | (#38995079)

They'll just rename them and you won't realise that Windows Generations is actually Windows 10.

This is nothing that wasn't unexpected... (1)

MrWin2kMan (918702) | more than 2 years ago | (#38994609)

There will be TWO Windows experiences: one for ARM-based devices exclusively running Metro applications, and the traditional Windows Desktop (sans Start button) that will run thick apps, traditional Office apps, legacy apps as well as new Metro apps. The Metro UI is strictly a web-like experience. Nothing in it would prevent porting to yet another chip architecture if necessary. If you want to use the touch-friendly Metro interface on your desktop or x64 tablet, you can; but you're not forced to. If you want Office on your Metro, there will be Office 365 as well as the Metro-ized Office apps. This is not much different from what Apple is doing. Both companies will be getting there at about the same time.

Microsoft Brand64 .NET Starter Edition 2012 (0)

Cid Highwind (9258) | more than 2 years ago | (#38994625)

Combining both of these decisions under the 'Windows' brand could be disastrous, not because Microsoft is evil, but because it creates two entirely different user experiences on the basis of which ISA your CPU supports.

Microsoft has never had a clue about branding. Look at .NET, they stuck that meaningless label on everything from IDEs to websites to chat clients.

Re:Microsoft Brand64 .NET Starter Edition 2012 (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#38995085)

They never had much of a clue about marketing either. Remember their MSN marketing campaign about people running around in blue butterfly suits?

Simple solution for X86 apps (2)

slim (1652) | more than 2 years ago | (#38994629)

Install Windows/ARM on a RiscPC [wikipedia.org] .

Acorn's machine had a 486 or 586 as a co-processor, so that RiscOS could host DOS apps running on their native processor.

Like NT/RISC before it... (2)

unixisc (2429386) | more than 2 years ago | (#38994645)

Windows 8 on ARM will be an even greater disaster than NT 4.0 on any of the RISC platforms - Alpha, MIPS or PPC - ever were. NT/AXP at least had some presence in the workstation place and at least made an attempt to run Wintel apps via FX!32, but this platform won't even try running Wintel apps, which is what everybody understands Windows apps to be. I'll predict that Windows 8 on ARM will simply kill Windows, since there will be no way for Joe Q Public (i.e. NOT your average /. reader) to tell which box will run their accumulated Windows apps, and which ones won't. Microsoft won't even be able to go BACK to Wintel 7 after that.

Re:Like NT/RISC before it... (1)

SchroedingersCat (583063) | more than 2 years ago | (#38994863)

No, attempting to emulate x86 on RISC was a disaster. Native apps worked reasonably well. Qualifying apps for A platform is not a bad idea. Nobody expects to be able to run Crysis on ARM. I hope Microsoft puts "windows experience index" to a good use and categorize apps based on it.

Re:Like NT/RISC before it... (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38995091)

No, attempting to emulate x86 on RISC was a disaster.

I used to run Word on a 40MHz SPARC. It was not a problem.

CPU-intensive apps will suck in an emulator, but many desktop apps spend 99% of the time waiting for user input, so it doesn't matter if that app that uses 1% of the CPU on a 3GHz i5 requires 20% of the CPU on a 1GHz ARM.

So the one thing I was interested in.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38994651)

Synchronization between Desktop and Mobile, the one reason I might have considered switching to a Windows phone... isn't there. Great job, Microsoft.

Don't see the problem here (1)

Zouden (232738) | more than 2 years ago | (#38994665)

People don't buy an iPad expecting to be able to run Mac OS software (okay, some might), so it's just a matter for Microsoft's marketing division to come up with a brand that identifies WOA as being related to Windows but not quite the same thing. That's their problem though.

There'll always be an x86 Windows that can run x86 software. The introduction of a separate branch of Windows doesn't change that.

I DO see the problem here (2)

DickBreath (207180) | more than 2 years ago | (#38995035)

http://www.asymco.com/2012/01/17/the-rise-and-fall-of-personal-computing/ [asymco.com]

I'm not holding funeral services for the PC just yet.

Eventually the traditional PC will be gone. Not that we won't have comfortable workstations with big screens, keyboard and a mouse. It's just that the platform, and especially its OS will be different. And that screen will be a touchscreen. And it will also have voice recognition.

In particular, look at those graphs in the article. They tell quite a story. Consider that first and last graph especially. Consider that those are logarithmic scales. That means that the iOS / Android devices have rocketed to large numbers faster than anything in history. It is easy to see that by vast numbers alone they will soon eclipse traditional PC's. Just last week I was reading how Microsoft's sales of Windows are down, and they blame it on declining sales of PC's.

I don't know iOS numbers, but I do know that Android devices exceed 250 Million with over 700,000 new activations per day (or over 8 per second).

The entire computing landscape has changed before and it will change again. Not overnight. There is not a bright line you can point to and say that is the day it changed. It's just gradual continuous change. A blur. A gradient.

Also, Steve Jobs was right and was able to avoid the innovator's dilemma. Ignore the Android line. Look at the iPad / iPhone lines compared to Mac. He was right to recognize, acknowledge and not be in denial about it -- the innovator's dilemma. ("we can't build the new platform because it will cannibalize the existing profitable platform.")

Something else to notice about those graphs: PC's are getting very flat. Mac still have a significant upward trajectory.

Basically: things are changing. I think WOA signals that Microsoft recognizes this, and is floundering around trying to do something about it, and will ultimately fail. This should not be a surprise. Microsoft has passed its middle age and is moving into its golden years. :-)

Re:Don't see the problem here (1)

robmv (855035) | more than 2 years ago | (#38995049)

iPad is not called MacBook. People will read Tablet with Windows 8 for ARM and will think perfectly a Windows version I can run on my arm an not on my desktop, now I can run all my applications on the move with a trendy tablet. Do you plan to train all those people in what is a microprocessor architecture and why one can not run applications for the other ones. MS should use another or fail, If the XBox was called Windows Gaming Console it could have failed

Before you jump on them about the UX (2)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 2 years ago | (#38994667)

Consider the fact that there are no mass market ARM-based desktop PCs. It's not like Dell is offering a low-end dual CPU ARM offering and Microsoft is doing their best Montgomery Burns impression at the suggestion that it be given a full desktop. Personally, I am not sure I'd want a Windows 7-like UI on a tablet (not sure I'd want Metro either, but that's beside the point).

This is micsoroft iOS. (3)

Alkonaut (604183) | more than 2 years ago | (#38994675)

So it has little in common with "Windows". This won't be what you use to run "Windows" on your new arm ultraportable. This is what you use when you run some metro-esque OS on a tablet.

The difference between Win8-ARM on a device/appliance is to Windows on a laptop/desktop what iOS on an iPad is to MacOS on a macintosh laptop. All this talk about walled gardens aside, I can see the point of having a very protected environment for computers that are appliances more related to my toaster than they are to my old desktop computer. I don't want to care about device drivers when Win8 runs in my TV, phone or tablet. It must just work, even if it means I can't install my old applications. If I want a computer where I can do anything I want, I get a computer. In this case that happens to mean my computer has to be x86 and my appliances have to be ARM. So be it. It almost certainly was going to be that way for the foreseeable future anyway.

I can't really blame microsoft for making this decision. They don't want to wall in windows users, they want to win over some iOS users with iPad. Maybe on Win9 or Win10 we'll do all our computing in the walled garden. But lets cross that bridge when we get ther.

Re:This is micsoroft iOS. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38994987)

So it has little in common with "Windows". This won't be what you use to run "Windows" on your new arm ultraportable. This is what you use when you run some metro-esque OS on a tablet.

Except for you'll still havehave the 256MB+ hulking-gorilla of a kernel running in memory at all time. Quietly "sipping" power.

Oh yeah, and we've disabled being able to close programs.

Re:This is micsoroft iOS. (1)

Mithent (2515236) | more than 2 years ago | (#38995205)

Both platforms will run Metro applications, though, and Microsoft sees users using predominantly Metro apps as the future of Windows. Metro UI isn't an optional, Media Center-like feature on desktop x86/x64 versions of Windows 8 which is targeted primarily at ARM, or even at tablets - it's the default UI everywhere, with the traditional desktop relegated to a load-on-demand alternative. Sure, Microsoft can't kill the desktop because abolishing all backwards compatibility would be a disaster. But Metro apps are what they eventually see most users spending most of their time using, and they run on both x86 and ARM, and are distributed the same way.

So, yeah, they are different for now due to differential support for legacy/traditional applications, but Microsoft intends for there to be an equivalent experience on both platforms in the future as Metro takes over as the standard UI. I'm not so sure about their vision myself, but that seems to be the way it's going.

HP Touchpad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38994705)

But can I install Windows 8 on my Touchpad?

Ah, (2)

ledow (319597) | more than 2 years ago | (#38994711)

So it's Windows CE then?

Thanks for the clarification but I'd suspected that all along. Windows is only "Windows" on your PC. No change at all, to anything, then.

"It's hard to under-emphasize..." (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38994715)

"It's hard to under-emphasize just how huge a change that is."

That's a relief. I thought for a moment is might be important.

Thats OK with me (0)

jampola (1994582) | more than 2 years ago | (#38994735)

I had no intention of running Win8 on my RasberryPi [raspberrypi.org] anyway!

Windows 8 & Unity (2)

assertation (1255714) | more than 2 years ago | (#38994755)

I could be wrong, but the preview shot I saw of Windows 8 with the missing "start" button makes it look like Microsoft is trying to do the same thing as Canonical.

I'm guessing neither org wants to look like it has the same old frumpy desktop.

If that doesn't work, Canonical is only 1 6 month release away from going back to something more PC and keyboard friendly. Microsoft on the other hand will have a much harder mess to clean up from.

Re:Windows 8 & Unity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38995033)

The "Start" button had been replaced for a generic button with the Windows logo since Windows Vista. What is gone in Windows 8 is the menu that pops up when you click on that button, instead replaced by the full screen monstrosity that is Metro.

The War on General Purpose Computing (2)

volts (515080) | more than 2 years ago | (#38994843)

This is part of an emerging pattern in which consumers are sold restricted systems with enforced toll collection. Cory Doctorow refers to this as "the coming war on general-purpose computing" [boingboing.net] . His analysis is thought provoking. It is disheartening to consider how may technologies with security benefits can also be used to restrict the rights of customers.

well you can't go to far as lot's of old software (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#38994891)

well you can't go to far as lot's of old software is still out there and locked down app stores may end up with 1st amendment issues.

Now it's on thing to lock down carp apps that just crash all the time but it's a other to do content bans.

Also there may need to be more then 1 app store / a 100% free for dev's way to push out free app's.

over / under (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38994945)

"It's hard to under-emphasize just how huge a change that is".

But is it hard to over-emphasize?

WinRT is the common API (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38995057)

What's the big deal? WinRT is the Arm/x86 common API for creating compiled modules.

We're focusing on that for the creation of tablet versions.

Maybe I'm reading it wrong... (4, Insightful)

HerculesMO (693085) | more than 2 years ago | (#38995071)

But if you develop your apps in WinRT, the same code will be able to compile into ARM or x86. I don't see a big deal, honestly. It's not like it will take developers extra work, since .NET and the JIT compiler should handle that workload. In fact, it makes Windows a more appealing development environment because you're hitting multiple platforms, form factors, etc... all with a single set of code.

But correct me if I misread.

how is this different (1)

ILongForDarkness (1134931) | more than 2 years ago | (#38995115)

WOA will likely be for iPad knockoffs and the like. MS is just making a "AppStore" for those types of users. Heck Win 8 will have access to the "AppStore" on windows 8 as well making it an identical experience as the appstore on the OS X Lion. MS is really really trying to push apps so they can catch up to Apple on cool factor, can skim a percentage of everything and can have all the joy of being a gatekeeper for the platform. Their trying to make the arguement "why wouldn't you target WinRT and get everyone rather than Win32 and only get Intel/desktop people?".

no surprise here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38995225)

This is old news guys. I knew about it for about 4 month and I am just a regular geek.

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