Windows 8 to support x86, ARM 'system on a chip'

At its first press conference of the day at CES, Redmond says support for SoC is coming in the next version of Windows.

Greg Sandoval Former Staff writer
Greg Sandoval covers media and digital entertainment for CNET News. Based in New York, Sandoval is a former reporter for The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. E-mail Greg, or follow him on Twitter at @sandoCNET.
Greg Sandoval
2 min read

System-on-a-chip technology gets a look at CES 2011. James Martin/CNET

Microsoft announced today at the Consumer Electronics Show that the next version of Windows will support system-on-a-chip (SoC) architectures, including ARM-based systems from partners Nvidia, Qualcomm, and Texas Instruments.

Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft said that on the x86 architecture, Intel and AMD will "continue their work on low-power SoC designs that fully support Windows, including support for native x86 applications."

Microsoft made the announcement during the 2011 CES in Las Vegas. Here's more from Microsoft's statement.

Microsoft said it would demonstrate "the next version of Windows running on new SoC platforms from Intel running on x86 architecture and from NVIDIA, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments on ARM architecture. The technology demonstration included Windows client support across a range of scenarios, such as hardware-accelerated graphics and media playback, hardware-accelerated Web browsing with the latest Microsoft Internet Explorer, USB device support, printing and other features."

"Intel and AMD continue to evolve and improve the x86 platforms, including new low-power systems, and advance new designs such as the recently announced 2nd Generation Intel Core processor family and AMD's Fusion accelerated processing units (APUs). NVIDIA, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments are joining Microsoft to provide ARM-based designs for the first time."

Microsoft Windows President Steven Sinofsky told CES attendees that today's press conference was just a demonstration, so the company did not show off any new user interface, pricing, or scheduling. He said it was just a display of "hard-core engineering work."

The news that Microsoft planned to demonstrate Windows running on ARM wasn't much of a surprise. TechFlash previously reported agreements were in place between Microsoft and the chipmakers. Mary Jo Foley, over at CNET sister site ZDNet, reported today that her sources tell her that Windows 8 "is just around the Milestone 2 mark, which is the second major internal build for the operating system. A public test build of Windows 8 isn't expected by most until later this year."