CES 2011: Will Windows 8 Run on Tegra?

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CES 2011

Rumors are flying hard and fast that Microsoft’s next iteration of their operating system is being ported to run on top of ARM-based hardware (the chips which provide the brains of NVIDIA’s Tegra platform). Steve Ballmer called Windows 8 their riskiest product bet – could this be what he meant?

Both Bloomberg and the Journal are reporting that Microsoft is going to make an announcement at CES with regards to their ARM-based future.  And they might.  It’s important to remember, however, that the Redmond software giant owns a number of projects that all carry the Windows name, and their more compact efforts, called Windows Compact Embedded 7, are part of that legacy.

Windows CE, which has long enjoyed ARM compatibility, is Microsoft’s likely current bet for low-powered tablets and other embedded installations – including nettops and set-top box appliances.

The newest version, which carries the same old name, brings a number of improvements to the table, including multi-touch and gesture recognition support, better web browing and even better development environments with the addition of Silverlight compatibility.

Similar to how Apple is slowly bringing features from their mobile-oriented iOS to the desktop OS X, Microsoft seems to be following the same path, but heading from the top down. Windows Phone 7, their recent phone operating system reboot, runs a UI first devised for Windows Media Center.  The company has said that WinPho7 will not be modified to run on non-phone form factors – could Windows CE bridge that gap?  

Thanks to the universal code compatibility enjoyed by frameworks like Silverlight, developers could engineer an application and, with minimal effort, port it to run across phone, low-powered devices and desktop operating systems.  By the time Windows 8 rolls around, with ARM compatibility, the three – currently distinct – OS builds could be looking a lot cozier.

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