Microsoft has redefined the traditional x86 Wintel paradigm by announcing that future iterations of its flagship Windows operating system will support ARM-based SoCs.
According to MS Windows division president Steven Sinofsky, SoC architecture – whether ARM or x86 – is expected to “help fuel” significant innovation across the hardware spectrum when coupled with the “depth and breadth” of Redmond’s OS.
To illustrate his point, Sinofsky showcased the next version of Windows and Office running on new SoC platforms from Intel (x86), alongside ARM-powered SoCs designed by Nvidia, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments.
As expected, Sinofsky was quick to reassure Intel and AMD that Microsoft would continue to support x86 architecture as it moved towards a brave new world of ARM.
“Intel and AMD continue to evolve and improve the x86 platforms, including new low-power systems, and advance new designs such as the recently announced 2nd Generation Intel Core processor family and AMD’s Fusion accelerated processing units (APUs),” he said.
“[But] with today’s announcement, we’re showing the flexibility and resiliency of Windows through the power of software and a commitment to world-class engineering. We continue to evolve Windows to deliver the functionality customers demand across the widest variety of hardware platforms and form factors.”
Sinofsky also noted that SoC architecture offered definite advantages by combining the major components of a computing device onto a “single package” of silicon.
“This consolidation enables smaller, thinner devices while reducing the amount of power required for the device, increasing battery life and making possible always-on and always-connected functionality.
“With support of SoC in the next version of the Windows client, Microsoft is enabling industry partners to design and deliver the widest range of hardware ever.”