Windows 8 on ARM: Microsoft bets on Office 15 and IE10

WOA: hardware saviour to software challenges?


Battery burn baby, burn

Microsoft wants to ensure that WOA does not fall over and does not burn up the battery – the latter especially is one of the big plusses about ARM. Sinofsky says one reason there aren't any x86 code ports or virtualisation of existing apps on ARM is because this would defeat the idea of longer battery life.

With the safety blanket gone, Windows 8 brings two new ways of doing business: the Windows marketplace – a concept so far mostly pushed on the Windows Phone side of Redmond – and something called WinRT. The latter is Microsoft's Windows Runtime, a programming model and execution environment for Metro UI that lets you develop using C, C++, C#, VB.Net and Javascript. Apps will be downloaded from Microsoft's Windows Store to WOA.

"Consumers obtain all software, including device drivers, through the Windows Store and Microsoft Update or Windows Update," Sinofsky wrote.

Software companies run a huge risk when they change basic tenets or established practices of coding for their software. They risk losing partners and customers that might want to stick with the existing way of working and may drift over to the competition. In Microsoft's case, the threat is less that devs drift to Apple – as there's relatively little historical crossover there – but that Windows devs stick with the x86 way of life.

Microsoft hopes to keep devs on side with its conscious decision to keep the desktop and not jettison it entirely for a future of Metro-UI touch and the Windows Store. Hence Office 15. It's also the thinking behind WinRT.

Sinofsky blogged: "Some have suggested we might remove the desktop from WOA in an effort to be pure, to break from the past, or to be more simplistic or expeditious in our approach. To us, giving up something useful that has little cost to customers was a compromise that we didn't want to see in the evolution of PCs."

Success for Microsoft's Windows 8 bet will depend on two factors, however. The first is whether WinRT proves to be as smooth as Microsoft has contended. If so, then it stands a chance of carrying existing developers skilled in programming for Windows. This is something Microsoft is counting on, to open up a new platform to its standing army of coders.

WinPho and Silverlight once more

This kind of thinking was also found in Windows Phone and Silverlight. That is, if you made the tools and development framework smooth and painless enough for existing Visual Studio PC coders, they could also code for Windows Phone or Silverlight. The market didn't flip.

The second factor Microsoft is banking on – and which is more or less out of its control – will be popularity of ARM PC devices running NVIDIA, Qualcom and Texas Instruments designs that are due at the "same time" as Windows 8 for x86 systems. It's the sexiness of the device and its ease of use that has helped sell things like the iPad, iPhone and Kindle to end user and coder alike. Large market share has given developers something they can address, not simplified coding frameworks and tools.

The ARM PC makers have proved a lot less leaky and showy than their x86 cousins, so it remains an unknown just what's coming and whether they can seduce devs as successfully as Apple's iPhone and iPad. So far, all we have is Sinofsky's predictable promise that what is coming will have been worth waiting for.

"PC manufacturers are hard at work on PCs designed from the ground up to be great and exclusively for WOA," Microsoft's Windows man said.

The bet is still in play. ®


Other stories you might like

  • North Korea pulled in $400m in cryptocurrency heists last year – report

    Plus: FIFA 22 players lose their identity and Texas gets phony QR codes

    In brief Thieves operating for the North Korean government made off with almost $400m in digicash last year in a concerted attack to steal and launder as much currency as they could.

    A report from blockchain biz Chainalysis found that attackers were going after investment houses and currency exchanges in a bid to purloin funds and send them back to the Glorious Leader's coffers. They then use mixing software to make masses of micropayments to new wallets, before consolidating them all again into a new account and moving the funds.

    Bitcoin used to be a top target but Ether is now the most stolen currency, say the researchers, accounting for 58 per cent of the funds filched. Bitcoin accounted for just 20 per cent, a fall of more than 50 per cent since 2019 - although part of the reason might be that they are now so valuable people are taking more care with them.

    Continue reading
  • Tesla Full Self-Driving videos prompt California's DMV to rethink policy on accidents

    Plus: AI systems can identify different chess players by their moves and more

    In brief California’s Department of Motor Vehicles said it’s “revisiting” its opinion of whether Tesla’s so-called Full Self-Driving feature needs more oversight after a series of videos demonstrate how the technology can be dangerous.

    “Recent software updates, videos showing dangerous use of that technology, open investigations by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the opinions of other experts in this space,” have made the DMV think twice about Tesla, according to a letter sent to California’s Senator Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach), chair of the Senate’s transportation committee, and first reported by the LA Times.

    Tesla isn’t required to report the number of crashes to California’s DMV unlike other self-driving car companies like Waymo or Cruise because it operates at lower levels of autonomy and requires human supervision. But that may change after videos like drivers having to take over to avoid accidentally swerving into pedestrians crossing the road or failing to detect a truck in the middle of the road continue circulating.

    Continue reading
  • Alien life on Super-Earth can survive longer than us due to long-lasting protection from cosmic rays

    Laser experiments show their magnetic fields shielding their surfaces from radiation last longer

    Life on Super-Earths may have more time to develop and evolve, thanks to their long-lasting magnetic fields protecting them against harmful cosmic rays, according to new research published in Science.

    Space is a hazardous environment. Streams of charged particles traveling at very close to the speed of light, ejected from stars and distant galaxies, bombard planets. The intense radiation can strip atmospheres and cause oceans on planetary surfaces to dry up over time, leaving them arid and incapable of supporting habitable life. Cosmic rays, however, are deflected away from Earth, however, since it’s shielded by its magnetic field.

    Now, a team of researchers led by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) believe that Super-Earths - planets that are more massive than Earth but less than Neptune - may have magnetic fields too. Their defensive bubbles, in fact, are estimated to stay intact for longer than the one around Earth, meaning life on their surfaces will have more time to develop and survive.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022