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Windows 8 extras: no emulation on ARM, security dangers

updated 08:25 pm EDT, Wed June 1, 2011

Windows 8 on ARM won't run old apps

Microsoft in the wake of the first true Windows 8 reveal has explained some of its goals for the OS. Windows division head Steven Sinofsky reiterated at D9 that Windows 8 PCs using ARM won't have an emulation layer for older apps, requiring that the app have been written for Windows 8 from the beginning. The shift could be large as it would eliminate the sheer legacy support that has been Windows' core advantage for years.

The executive also anticipated many Windows 8 tablets having much faster, more iPad-like responsiveness than existing models, which have to boot up like regular PCs. He couldn't vouch for certain that this was the case, though this was partly because the OS didn't have set requirements. Any computer can run the tablet interface, regardless of the storage technology, and use a mouse and keyboard in place of touch.

Windows 8's was also more than just a layer, Sinofsky explained: unlike HP's TouchSmart or the other custom layers often used by companies like ASUS, Dell, MSI, and others, it was a real part of the OS. A tablet owner could still reach the file system and otherwise have full control. Users would also have the option to visit conventional Windows at any time but, again unlike usual Windows tablets, wouldn't have to revert to the old OS to accomplish something necessary.

While emphasizing the break from Windows, Sinofsky admitted that there would still be certain inherent limits to using a full version of Windows. Conventional apps would still likely need a mouse and keyboard. He also admitted that it would still have the same security risks and that antivirus software would be a good idea, although he spun the disadvantage over an iPad or Android tablet by arguing that every platform without protection faced the same limits.

"I think it will always be a good idea to run security software," he said. "If you think your machine's not a target, you'll find out pretty soon that it's not."

by MacNN Staff



  1. aduffbrew

    Joined: Dec 1969



    i watched the video. It will certainly take a little getting used to but today's desktop OS's are running on a paradigm more than 30 years old. Most mobile OS's follow along the same lines as well. I'm glad someone is trying something new. Personally, I still think the WP7 type interface is a little on the ugly side but it sure is efficient. Maybe with a bit of aesthetic attention, it could really usher in a new age.

  1. Paul Huang

    Joined: Dec 1969


    12 years late

    By the time Windows 8 comes out, it's likely going to be more than 11, if not 12 years after OS 10.0's release date.

  1. azakel

    Joined: Dec 1969


    after watching the videos

    I think that Microsoft has migrated from a mouse and keyboard centric OS (which was their OS's doom when it comes to tablets) to a finger centric OS, and this is awesome if it was only a mobile devices OS, but they're making it their mobile and PC OS.

    In the interview there was a very important point that got my attention, Walt from AllThingsD asked about how developers will take on the task of differentiating between a touch input and a mouse input, and the answer was "well they should focus on touch and let the OS take care of the mouse input".

    I have developed for both touch devices and mouse devices, it is almost never a seamless transition, and to my standards it is a lazy way of doing things that could bite you in the butt if you don't think it through properly.

    I think it is a very innovative OS and (i cannot believe I'm about to say this about Microsoft) it shows that it could potentially become a tough competitor in the Mobile OS race, but this is the case if it was a Mobile OS and of course leaving the fact that it needs an antivirus installed but then again so does android.

    I think they've gone from one side of the room to the other side, failing to find the sweet spot in the middle.

    Comment buried. Show
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  1. coffeetime

    Joined: Dec 1969


    It's innovative but....

    for the mass user to adapt this new interface is a long shot (I did watch the video demo). Most PC users sticks to PC because they are used to the Windows 95 way of navigating their desktop. I can see Windows 7 will be here to stay for a very, very, very long while just like the XP.

    On the other hand, I think I understand what Windows 8 is trying to do.... merging desktop OS with a new mobile OS layer sitting on top. A mobile device will start up from the top layer - the mobile layer. If they want to work on Excel, click on Excel file and bottom layer of desktop OS will fire up at a slower boot-up speed, just like the regular desktop. If you are using desktop computer, the bottom layer will start up by default when computer is turn on.

  1. qazwart

    Joined: Dec 1969


    The Transition is jarring

    Seeing the phone like Windows 8 all the suddenly sprouting the task bar, windows, and menus was quite jarring. In the end, Windows 8 won't be tablet like -- requiring anti-virus software and the complexities of a full OS while the tablet portion of the OS will be limited in power. Users will have to switch from touch to keyboard and mouse and back.

    The problem Microsoft is having is letting go of Windows. In the 1990s, they promised "Windows Everywhere" no matter what, and politically, Microsoft is held hostage to the Windows development team. They killed the KIn and kept Windows Phone 7 delayed for a year.

    Microsoft should find a new name for its tablet OS. Call it ZuneOS. Call it Carl. Don't say it's Windows. This will free Microsoft away from trying to shoehorn Windows into places where it doesn't fit.

    Ironically, Apple's Mac OS X is the basis of the Mac and iPad/iPhone operating system. Yet, Apple shrewdly decided to call the OS different names on different platforms. And, use two distinct UIs even though both OSs share the same foundations.

    Redmond: Turn on your copiers! Copy Apple and HP and do a dual OS strategy. There's a big difference between a PC and a tablet in the capabilities and usage -- at least for now. Windows 7 is a wonderful desktop OS, and you have a lot of great stuff in WP7. Rename WP7 to something else and don't think of it as Windows. Then, allow it to be your tablet OS. Allow Windows to be your desktop system. You can retire it around Windows 12. Remember that you transitioned from MS-DOS to Windows and never looked back. Now is the time to transition from "Windows".

  1. tundaman

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Windows Tablets?

    The cash cow cannot be killed, that's for sure!

    Apparently, they got the message when Steve Jobs refereed to "post-PC devices" as a subtle reference of a "non-windows world", and are trying desperately to prove him wrong by bringing the old cow to the living room.

    Probably it would be something like when they put DOS under windows 3.1/95/98 for the same reason, instead of making something new and improved from the ground up.

  1. MisterMe

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Can you spell d-i-s-a-s-t-e-r

    Apparently Microsoft understands that its decision to drop its multiple ISA strategy with Windows NT and to double-down on Intel x86 was a mistake. By contrast, MacOS X has never run on fewer than two ISAs. This paying HUGE dividends for Apple now.

    Underneath, iOS is MacOS X. However, neither does Apple claim nor does any user expect to run InDesign on the iPad nor use a Mac Pro as a GPS unit. Where iOS and MacOS X overlap, everyone expects each platform to require separate apps.

    This is huge because iOS devices not not compete with MacOS X-based computers. The desktop and palmtop are different paradigms. Apple does not try to fold them together, and by avoiding the attempt, does not sacrifice the functionality of one for the other.

    Windows 8, OTOH, will try to fold the two paradigms together. There will be sacrifices. From my vantage, the palmtop functionality of Windows 8 will give way to the demands of desktop and laptop users who demand that their tablets replicate the functionality of their towers back at the office--or bedroom.

    I can see it now: "Windows 9--it is what Window 8 should have been."

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