Windows 8 on ARM: You can look but you can't touch

Windows 8 was shown on a few ARM-based devices at CES, but Microsoft doesn't want people playing with it before it's ready

By , IDG News Service |  Software, CES, Microsoft

Microsoft gave out some Windows 8 test units running on x86 processors to reviewers in September, and it was happy to let a reporter try out the x86 systems in its booth this week. But it had no ARM-based devices on show at all.

Chris Flores, Microsoft director of communications for Windows, said development of the ARM version is on track and that Microsoft expects it to be released commercially at the same time as the x86 version But Microsoft wouldn't say if the Windows 8 beta due in late February will come out for both platforms.

To be fair, Crean said, Windows 8 is still in pre-beta form, so it's not surprising if Microsoft doesn't want people playing with it. ARM CEO Warren East said it's "common sense" that it will take longer to perfect the ARM version of Windows 8 than the x86 version. "Windows has grown up on x86 for the last quarter of a century," he said in an interview.

Microsoft did demonstrate Windows 8 running on ARM during CEO Steve Ballmer's keynote Monday night. But it waited until the demo had gone smoothly before telling the audience it had been showing an ARM device.

"This tablet that you've just seen me demo on is prototype hardware running on an Nvidia Tegra 3 chip," Tami Reller, the chief marketing officer for Windows, told the audience, before moving on to an x86-based system.

(Agam Shah contributed to this report.)

James Niccolai covers data centers and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow James on Twitter at @jniccolai. James's e-mail address is james_niccolai@idg.com

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