Windows on ARM to challenge WinTel paradigm

ARM RISC-based processors running Microsoft Windows 8 are expected to make an official appearance by the end of 2012 – and could begin seriously competing in the notebook market by June 2013.

Indeed, industry heavyweights such as Nvidia and Qualcomm have been souping up the raw horsepower of their next-gen ARM chips, while simultaneously tweaking power consumption requirements.

According to DigiTimes, companies with ARM-based processors are quite “aggressive” about their respective WoA (Windows on ARM) platforms, which they believe are capable of challenging the traditional WinTel paradigm.

To be sure, ARM CPU players are already working with vendors like Asus and Lenovo to prep WoA-based notebooks in an initial effort to test industry waters by mid-2013.

Sources tell DigiTimes that WoA could take off in 2014 and claim additional market share in 2015 – thereby becoming a viable alternative to the classic x86 WinTel paradigm.

Essentially, the sources believe WoA’s advantages in terms of low power consumption and reduced price points will enable the platform to successfully compete against “classic” notebooks powered by Intel’s x86 chips.

However, there are still two major issues that must be overcome for WoA to be successful: software support and cooperation with notebook vendors. If both can be resolved, industry sources expect the platform to receive “strong attention” from notebook players, especially second-tier and white-box players.

Meanwhile, Intel plans on countering ARM’s RISC charge with its 22nm Ivy Bridge processors (2012) and Haswell chips (2013). Perhaps not unsurprisingly, Intel CEO Paul Otellini says he is quite optimistic about Windows 8, terming the operating system “one of the best things” that has “ever happened” to the company.

“[Windows 8] gives us, x86, in particular, I think a unique advantage as [the OS] comes to market, because we can take advantage of all the legacy that was ever written, and all of the fact that all the drivers for the mice and for printers and every other USB device in the world,” Otellini told ZDNet.

“For example, getting photos off your camera and onto a tablet. Try that if you don’t have a driver, doesn’t work. On the other hand, if that tablet is running [an extension] of Windows, it’s going to work just like it works with the PC today. So there is a huge advantage built in that we think we have as the Windows 8 products start launching.”