Update x2: Microsoft has responded by issuing the following denial:
Intel’s statements during yesterday’s Intel Investor Meeting about Microsoft’s plans for the next version of Windows were factually inaccurate and unfortunately misleading. From the first demonstrations of Windows on SoC, we have been clear about our goals and have emphasized that we are at the technology demonstration stage. As such, we have no further details or information at this time.
It’s worth noting that Microsoft did not explain how Intel’s statements were false or misleading.
Source: Business Insider
Update: Direct quotes from the conference have surfaced. The comments came from Intel’s GM of its software and systems group, Renee James, who seemed to be dismissing Windows 8 on ARM as it will compete with Intel’s x86-based Windows 8 offerings.
“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,” she said. Later, she added, “Our competitors,” referring to ARM chip makers, “will not be running legacy applications. Not now. Not ever.”
She also clarified exactly what the four versions of Windows 8 for ARM will entail, implying that the versions will not be feature-based, but rather built around the varying ARM environments from different vendors. “There will be four Windows 8 SoCs for ARM. Each one will run for that specific ARM environment, and they will run new applications or cloud-based applications. They are neither forward- nor backward-compatible between their own architecture, different generations of a single vendor, nor are they compatible across different vendors.”
Source: The Register
It looks like someone at Intel has loose lips as a company exec let slip during an investor conference that Microsoft plans to release multiple versions of its next Windows operating system, Windows 8, and four of those versions will work with ARM processors, like the Nvidia Tegra 2 chips that are commonly found on tablets.
The four ARM-friendly versions will be built for mobile devices and will not be compatible with older Windows software. The report indicates that one mobile version will also be compatible with Intel chips and designed for the small number of tablets sporting an Intel processor.
The news only reaffirms what Microsoft already confirmed. Microsoft claimed during a CES keynote in January that it was working on Windows versions for both Intel and ARM, though was short on specifics. The company may reveal its specific plans at its developer conference held in September.
However, this is the first time a specific number has been attached to the planned release. Microsoft often releases different versions of its OS, each targeted to a specific user segment, from enterprise customers to students to consumers – each with the same basic features.
Given that it will not support older Windows programs, it seems that the ARM-friendly Windows may be a starkly different OS, one designed primarily for touch-based navigation and not a mouse-driven cursor. In this way, it could have more in common with Windows Phone 7 than the traditional Windows OS.
Microsoft reps have gone on record stating that the company has no plans to port Windows Phone 7 to tablets. However, earlier this month, Nokia CEO Stephen Olep claimed his company, which has partnered with Microsoft for Windows Phone 7 smartphones, claimed he could leverage Microsoft’s offerings for a future Nokia tablet.
“We could take advantage of Microsoft technology and software, and build a Windows-oriented tablet, or we could do things with some of the other software assets that we have,” he said.