updated 03:35 pm EST, Tue December 21, 2010
Windows for ARM tipped at Microsoft CES keynote
(Update with extra leaked details) Microsoft is planning to show at least some form of Windows written for ARM processors at its tablet-driven keynote event, a pair of sources leaked on Tuesday. The mobile-optimized version would last longer on battery and would be better-tuned to tablets. What hardware if any would be attached to the platform wasn't mentioned by Bloomberg's insiders, but at least one device is likely.
The leak could be a non-issue as it may refer to Windows Embedded Compact 7, a platform that Microsoft had already confirmed would ship with the ASUS Eee Pad EP101TC. Despite Bloomberg's claims, it may not be a true ARM port of Windows 7 and could instead be a heavily optimized version of Windows CE designed for multi-touch and tablets.
ASUS had said the 10-inch tablet using the OS would arrive in early 2011.
Many details of the OS aren't known, but it's known to be a reaction to the lack of a true tablet-ready OS at Microsoft. Windows 7 has usually been Microsoft's tablet platform of choice, but the lukewarm reception, low battery life and high prices of the HP Slate and other equivalents have left it excluded where Apple and Google have had early success. Windows Phone 7 has so far been kept out of tablets and would need to be partly redesigned to use the larger screen area.
Any ARM-based variant will be a major blow to Intel, which has been depending on Microsoft for a large part of its tablet hopes. Android and MeeGo are both options for Atom-based systems.
Update: An extra slip on Tuesday said the release might not ship for another two years, implying that it's a true ARM version of Windows and not just Embedded Compact 7. However, the move floated by the Wall Street Journal would be unusual both because it rarely shows pre-alpha platforms at CES and because it would reinforce views that Microsoft is well behind Apple and Google in tablets.