Microsoft to distribute Windows 8 on Qualcomm, Nvidia test PCs

The software giant will provide Windows-on-ARM PCs to developers in an invitation-only distribution.

Windows 8 Consumer Preview.
Windows 8 Consumer Preview Aloysius Low/CNET Asia

Microsoft is providing Windows 8 test PCs based on silicon from Qualcomm and Nvidia in an invitation-only seeding program.

The two chip suppliers are working with Microsoft to provide test PCs to select developers to test and optimize apps for future Windows on ARM PCs and tablets, both companies announced today.

Windows 8 marks the first time that a mainstream Windows operating system will run on processors from ARM chip suppliers in addition to those from Intel and AMD.

In Qualcomm's case, a pre-release version of Windows on ARM will run on a PC with a Snapdragon S4 MSM8960 processor with hardware-accelerated Adreno graphics, GPS, sensors, and peripherals.

"These test PCs are not representative of commercial form factors or the final Windows on ARM experience; they are designed to give developers early access to building and testing Windows Metro-style apps on Qualcomm's latest technology," Qualcomm said in a statement.

Making sure Windows works with peripheral devices is one of Windows-on-ARM's (WOA) biggest challenges. "Based on Qualcomm's Snapdragon processor, these systems will...offer a rich set of hardware peripherals that plug in and help enable seamless user experiences on the Windows on ARM platform," said Stefan Kinnestrand, director of business planning, Windows division, at Microsoft.

Nvidia made a similar announcement, saying it is working with Microsoft on a program to distribute Windows 8 test PCs to software developers and device manufacturers powered by the Tegra 3 quad-core mobile processor.

About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.


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