Will Ballmer show Win8, Windows on ARM tablets tonight?

CES keynote is good venue to show Microsoft hasn't lost touch

Microsoft still hasn't said anything to confirm or deny that it is building a version of Windows to run on processors built by ARM, but the number of reports predicting it are increasing.

Sometime this week Microsoft will demonstrate not only the first version of Windows on ARM, but the first real look at Windows 8, the next major version of Windows, according to anonymous sources cited in a column by Seattle-area Microsoft reporter and blogger Todd Bishop.

Despite all the other things Microsoft could do to make Windows more convenient, mobile or adaptable to new uses, the real differentiating point of Windows 8 will be its ability to run on chips other than those built by longtime partner Intel, Bishop said.

That version won't happen for a while, however. In the meantime Microsoft is tooling up Windows to work more effectively on Intel and AMD-based tablets and other touchscreen devices, according to other reports.

ZDnet blogger and Microsoft guru Mary Jo Foley points out that Steve Ballmer is doing a keynote tonight at 6:30 Pacific time, which would be a bully pulpit to announce a raft of solid short-term catchup efforts in tablets in general and a long-term roadmap for ARM-based devices, and other mobile technology.

My own expectation would be that he'd finally announce that Microsoft will adapt its licenses to be more friendly to both virtualization and cloud customers -- given that he said two years ago that those two technologies would be the core of Microsoft's business plan.

Time to catch up with yourself, Steve.

Kevin Fogarty writes about enterprise IT for ITworld. Follow him on Twitter @KevinFogarty.

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