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."