3 reasons Microsoft shouldn't port Windows to ARM processor

1. It will hurt its close partner, Intel Corp.

Intel is fighting back against ARM's attempts to move upmarket from smartphones into netbooks, which would further cannibalize Intel's PC chip sales.

Earlier this month, Intel recruited Taiwanese chip foundry TSMC to design Atom chips that could work in smartphones, ARM's current strength.

"Intel really wants to get into both markets; Microsoft really needs to stay out," Castellano said. If Microsoft ports Windows XP or 7 to ARM, Castellano envisions retaliatory moves from Intel, such as actively optimizing its x86 CPUs to run Linux better than Windows.

2. Technical difficulties.

Microsoft has successfully brought Windows out of mainstream PCs to embedded platforms before. Windows Embedded Standard is a port of Windows XP. Its offshoots, such as WEPOS (Windows Embedded for Point of Service) are hugely popular for kiosks and electronic cash registers. It's even ported the weighty Windows Vista to embedded PCs with a version called Vista Business Embedded.

The difference, however, is that those ports were still for devices running x86 processors. Doing a real port of XP, Vista or Windows 7 to a different platform such as ARM would be a technical "nightmare," according to independent analyst Jack Gold.

"Windows takes a pretty substantial amount of processing power, and it's not clear that ARMs deliver enough," he said. Also, "ARM processors run completely different from x86 ones. The instruction sets are different; the drivers are completely different."

Gold concluded, "It's an incredible challenge, and Microsoft has got enough on their plate."

Castellano agreed, saying that many of the strengths shown by ARM devices -- their low energy usage and quick start-up -- would disappear if they ran Windows.

"How many processes need to start up on a PC before you can start to interact with it? All of that comes with Windows," he said.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags arm processorMicrosoft

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Eric Lai

Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Deals on Good Gear Guide

Deals on Good Gear Guide


Latest News Articles


GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy


First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni


For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell


The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi


The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott


My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.


Latest Jobs


Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?