CES 2011: Microsoft Keynoteby Vivek Gowri & Ganesh T S on January 10, 2011 7:00 PM EST
Windows 8 on SoCs
The big news was Microsoft demonstrating Windows 8 running on a variery of SoC platforms at the event. All demos were on development boards, though a final sample board for the x86 Atom based SoC was also shown (to stress the fact that Windows 8 could actually run on 'PCs' on a credit card sized board).
The first demo was on a x86 Atom based SoC (probably Moorestown) running Quicken, stressing the fact that the x86 platform is not something Microsoft is willing to alienate yet.
There were three more ARM based SoC platforms, each of which was used to demonstrate different Windows aspects. The Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset just showed the Windows desktop, while the TI OMAP platform was used to demonstrate the porting of a printer driver. The Tegra 2 platform was used to demonstrate HD video decoding and playback on Windows.
While people may find it impressive that the demo was able to show printing from an ARM based SoC, it is not really surprising given that the drivers for printers have already existed for a long time on Windows Embedded. It should also be noted that the core Windows kernel used to support a variety of architectures such as MIPS, Alpha and PowerPC till NT 4.0.
It is nice to see Windows running on ARM, but is it something that people want to see on systems based on such SoCs? In fact, the only sort of systems where we would like to see this are dockable smartphones similar to the Tegra 2 based Motorola ATRIX 4G.
ARM based SoCs are used for a variety of purposes, and as long as manufacturers restrict running Windows 8 on them only for the appropriate products, consumers should remain happy.