March 20, 2012, 7:51 AM — Is Microsoft headed for disaster later this year when Windows 8 debuts on tablet devices some of which will not be able to run Windows 7 desktop apps, despite supporting an optional desktop interface? That's what some critics are wondering after looking at another reportedly successful launch of Apple's latest iPad and the comparatively lackluster popularity of competing slates such as the BlackBerry PlayBook, and a host of Android-based devices.
The last, best hope for serious competition to the iPad, the argument goes, may come from Windows 8 tablets sporting Microsoft's new touch-friendly Metro-style interface. The problem is that Windows 8 tablets could confuse and frustrate prospective tablet buyers.
The ARM Debate
A number of Windows 8 tablets are expected to use ARM-based chips instead of x86/x64 chips, which Windows typically relies on. These devices will carry the Windows name but since they are ARM- and not x86/x64-based they won't be backward compatible with any software that runs now on Windows 7.
But Windows on Arm (WOA) tablets will still come with the Windows desktop. You'll see the familiar Windows desktop, but you won't be able to download and run any of the legacy programs you'd expect. Meanwhile, x86/x64-based Windows 8 tablets, will be able to run anything that works on Windows 7 under Windows 8.