Microsoft: No Windows Server for ARM

Despite Microsoft's enthusiasm for placing Windows 8 on ARM processors, Windows Server 8 will not have an ARM edition

While Microsoft is embracing the ARM processor architecture for its next Windows client operating system, Windows 8, the company has no immediate plans to develop an ARM-based version of its next Windows Server, the company executive in charge of Windows Server confirmed Wednesday.

This week at Microsoft's Build conference, being held in Anaheim, California, Bill Laing, Microsoft corporate vice president for the server and cloud division, demonstrated some of the new features of Windows Server 8. The next generation of the server operating system features new capabilities such as a revamped, command line-based PowerShell that will allow administrators to control multiple machines, and a new management console for blending in-house servers and cloud resources into a single view.

Unlike Windows 8, however, Windows Server 8 will not come in an ARM edition, Laing said. "The answer in the short term is no," Laing said, when asked if Microsoft is contemplating an ARM-based Windows Server.

The ARM processor has seen a revival in interest over the past few years, as more device manufacturers use the low-power processors to run mobile devices. And a few industry observers have speculated that the chip may also work well in data center environments as well, where it could save energy. ARM Holdings, which owns the architecture, is even investigating the possibility of ARM-based server chips.

But should such chips ever be produced, they may still need a Windows Server-based OS to run.

One immediate problem with porting Windows Server to ARM is that the OS was written for 64-bit processors, while the current ARM architecture is limited to 32-bit processing, Laing explained. Windows Server stopped offering 32-bit support with the Release 2 update to Windows Server 2008.

Beyond this show-stopper of a problem, one reason for not porting the software is that there would be little benefit in running Windows Server on ARM, Laing added. Server-based ARM might initially look like an easy way to cut server power usage, but it would have only a minimal impact on energy usage.

"On a server, the chip is only one part of the power consumption," he said. The motherboard, memory, network controllers and other components all consume power as well. "Even if you dramatically drop the power requirement [of the chip] there are definitely some other power requirements," he said.

Laing would not say that Microsoft would never consider developing an ARM-based version of Windows Server, but he said the company has no immediate plans for doing so now.

Microsoft had been developing Windows Server 8 for about three years, Laing said. It had a broad set of goals to reach with this release, such as cloud compatibility and automation of routine tasks across multiple machines. "No longer does a server run on a single machine," he said.

Laing assigned engineers not to develop specific technologies, but rather to solve common problems that may cover a range of technologies, such as moving virtual machines from server to server without any downtime. "We tied all the pieces together, so we would have a more consistent release," he said.

The new release also benefits from Microsoft's work building out its own Azure cloud service, he explained. Many technologies developed for the server were tested in the cloud, and many technologies developed for Azure were then imported back to the server.

"Historically, there has been a separation between people who developed applications and the people who operated in the data center," he said. "We tried to keep a tight feedback [loop] between the two, to share the technology."

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Microsoftwindows serverWindowsComponentssoftwareprocessorsoperating systems

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.

Joab Jackson

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?