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Microsoft: How Windows 8 on ARM will be different

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Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) has unveiled more details about its upcoming Windows 8 on ARM (known as "WOA") in a new article on the official Building Windows 8 blog. WOA is the version of Windows 8 that is ported to the ARM architecture.

Microsoft's Steven Sinofsky confirmed that WOA will launch at the same time as Windows for the x86/64 platform running on Intel/AMD processors--which probably comes as good news for those eager to get their hands on the ARM version of Windows 8.

One key point that Sinofsky makes clear is how WOA is far from a direct port of Windows 8 on x86/64. For one, a WOA PC will come without the traditional hibernate and sleep option, but will instead operate similar to a mobile phone. This means that a WOA device will never switch off, but instead operate in connected standby power mode where it can remain for weeks before the battery drains.

In addition, WOA will not support any type of virtualization or emulation approach, and will also not allow for existing x86 applications to be ported over.

The reason for this decision has to do with customer satisfaction, says Sinofsky. He explained: "If we enabled the broad porting of existing code we would fail to deliver on our commitment to longer battery life, predictable performance, and especially a reliable experience over time." He further elaborated that conventions used by current Windows applications "do not necessarily provide this" given the way it deals with various things such as background processes, timers, system hooks, the registry and unsigned drivers, among other things.

Given these differences, a WOA PC will be clearly labeled and branded so as to avoid confusion with Windows 8 on the x86/64 platform. Moreover, WOA will not be available as a software-only package; WOA devices come with the operating system pre-installed. On this, Sinofsky observed that device makers typically work to pair a hardware device with "a specific set of software"--which he readily admits is quite different from Windows in the world of x86/64 hardware.

For now, Microsoft is scheduled to release Windows 8 Consumer Preview on Feb. 29, with the release of Windows 8 widely expected to happen by the end of this year.

For more:
- check out this article at Network World
- check out this article at CNET News

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