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If you read the book Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson you will recall a crucial moment when Apple’s mobile development team convinced Job’s to use the chip technology from ARM, rather than the Intel’s atom-based chip sets.
While Intel arguably offered the fastest chips at the time they were not designed to specifically, for example, preserve battery life. Job’s would eventually license the ARM architecture and also purchase a 150-person microprocessor design firm to create a system-on-chip, A4, based on the ARM architecture and manufactured by Samsung.
This was part of Job’s visionary strategy of creating custom end-to-end technology (hardware to software) to ensure a consistent, smooth user experience, whether it is for laptops or Smartphones.
Partly in response to Apple’s overall strategy, Microsoft’s mobile team rebuilt its mobile technology from the ground up winning kudos with their Metro OS design, which has now influenced the upcoming Windows 8 operating system which is in beta or “consumer review” mode.
Even more importantly, it looks like Microsoft will unveil specs allowing manufacturers to start developing mobile devices and tablets using ARM processors and running Windows 8.
“There was concern that Windows 8 would first be released for devices using Intel and AMD x86 chip architecture, with ‘Windows-on-arm’ devices lagging behind,” said a February 2012 issue of Barron’s Weekly.
Thus, it looks extremely likely that a new wave of future tablets may come armed with ARM, slip streaming the success forged by Apple.
“Expanding the view of the PC to cover a much wider range of form factors and designs than some think of today is an important part of these efforts. Windows on ARM enables creativity in PC design that, in combination with newly architected features of the Windows OS, will bring to customers new, no-compromise PCs,” said a Microsoft blog post.
“We’ve designed WOA to look and feel just like you would expect. WOA enables creativity in PC design that, in combination with newly architected features of the OS, will bring to customers new no-compromise experiences,” said Microsoft.
Of course this development may cause some issues for legacy software on new tablets featuring ARM.
“If you need to run existing x86/64 (Intel-based) software, then you will be best served with Windows 8 on x86/64,” said CNET.
In any event, Windows looks like it may be a force to be reckoned with as it adopts a mobile-centric view of the hardware and software market.