Windows 8 on ARM may not support desktop apps


— 9:42 AM on December 2, 2011

The ARM incarnation of Windows 8 is sounding more and more like a raw deal. Remember back in September, when Microsoft said the ARM build won't run legacy x86 apps and the firm will "focus on Metro apps as the opportunity" for cross-compatibility between ARM and x86? Well, rumor now has it the ARM version of Windows 8 may not support non-Metro apps, period.

Paul Thurrott of SuperSite For Windows dropped the bombshell in the latest episode of TWiT's Windows Weekly podcast:

With the understanding that things can change—in fact, one of the interesting things about this story is that how they're going to handle this is very hotly debated within Microsoft still today; but as of this week, the plan internally within Microsoft is for ARM-based versions of Windows 8 not to include the Windows Desktop and not to have any facility for running Desktop apps.

Metro, of course, refers to Windows 8's new, tile-based user interface, while Desktop is what Microsoft now calls the classic Windows experience with which we're all familiar. Thurrott says Microsoft sees the ARM version of its upcoming operating system as little more than a solution for iPad competitors; those who want the whole banana will need to go x86.

I suppose most folks might not care too much about running old Desktop apps on a touch-screen tablet. However, unless Microsoft changes its mind, this development makes Project Denver—Nvidia's upcoming ARM-based CPU for desktops and servers—a whole lot less appealing. By crippling the ARM version of Windows 8, Microsoft might essentially cement Intel's position in the market for at least another few years.

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