After twenty years of dedication to Intel, software giant Microsoft has confirmed that the next version of its Windows operating system will be able to run on chips designed by UK company ARM Holdings.
ARM’s chips, whose reduced instruction set grants them greater energy efficiency, are commonly used in mobile devices including Apple’s iPhone.
Microsoft’s operating system for mobile phones, Windows Phone 7, already supports ARM processors. The company’s decision to support ARM chips with the desktop version of the operating system is therefore seen as a bid to bolster its tablet strategy.
Critics have remarked, however, that Microsoft’s inability to crack the tablet market, where it lags behind Apple and Google, has more to do with Windows’ mouse-driven user interface than the components it supports.
Speaking at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas yesterday, the head of Microsoft’s Windows division said that the next version of the operating system will not be released for at least two years.
He also confirmed that Windows applications will need to be rewritten if they are to run on the ARM-version of the operating system. “It’s not likely that virtualisation would run on [ARM chips]," the Guardian quotes him as saying.
Shares in ARM Holdings rose 13% following the announcement.