updated 08:40 pm EST, Mon January 30, 2012
Windows 8 on ARM may arrive in sync with Intel
Multiple sources stated Monday that the ARM-native version of Windows 8 is in good enough shape to reach developers in February. The release was deemed "quite stable" by CNET contacts, which had been told by hardware partners to anticipate a release sometime in February. There was no indication that Microsoft planned to separate the Intel- and ARM-based versions of Windows.
Going to ARM might also provide major savings beyond what was thought. A "high-profile" piece of hardware using Intel chips at CES this month would supposedly cost "hundreds of dollars less" with an ARM equivalent. The big-name company making the ARM hardware didn't have to change any design elements.
ARM isn't likely to be part of the public beta, since very few have ARM-based tablets that could reliably install the test version. Although pointing out the mostly obvious, legacy Intel-only apps wouldn't run on ARM tablets, although HTML5-based apps will.
A timely ARM release would be key to boosting credibility for Windows 8 tablets. Concerns have existed that the new addition to Windows' hardware support would perpetually be second-tier to the Intel version. Running on significantly cheaper hardware could also prevent a chronic problem with Intel-based Windows tablets, where even choosing a low-end Atom processor can mean a price $100 to $200 above what an iPad costs.