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Intel reveals more about multiple Win 8 versions

A top-level Intel exec confirms that Microsoft will make a traditional edition of its Windows OS for Intel-based PCs and different versions for ARM-based mobile devices.

Intel has revealed a few more details about Microsoft's plan to offer Windows 8 in multiple versions.

Renee James,
Intel's Renee James Intel

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Renee James, an Intel senior vice president who heads the software and services group, reiterated at an investor's meeting yesterday in Santa Clara, Calif., that the Windows 8 operating system will launch in versions designed for both Intel-based x86 computers and ARM-based devices. Microsoft had already announced at CES in January that it would support ARM devices in the next version of Windows.

Microsoft will offer a traditional version of Windows 8 designed to run on PCs powered by Intel's x86 processor, James said, according to a report in The Register. This version will support older legacy applications for backward compatibility, as Microsoft typically does. "Windows 8 Traditional" would include a "Windows 7 mode," similar to the way Windows 7 currently provides a Windows XP mode to run older software.

Beyond that, Microsoft will offer a version of Windows 8 designed to run on tablets, smartphones, and other devices powered by ARM chips. A total of four different Windows versions are being planned for ARM-based devices. That's because each version for ARM needs to be written for a specific chip, Intel CEO Paul Otellini explained at the meeting, according to a report in EE Times.

However, the ARM-based versions won't support legacy applications or offer any backward compatibility mode, according to James, a fact that she stressed in Intel's favor.

"On ARM, there'll be the new experience, which is very specifically around the mobile experience, specifically around tablet and some limited clamshell, with no legacy OS," James said, according to The Register. "Our competitors will not be running legacy applications. Not now. Not ever."