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Intel Windows Microsoft Software Hardware

Windows 8 ARM Will Not Support Legacy Software 381

Posted by timothy
from the we-only-have-so-much-lipstick dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Intel, speaking out of turn and damaging its intimate relationship with Microsoft, has revealed that legacy x86-compiled software will not work on the ARM version of Windows 8. Microsoft has promised that the Office suite will be available on Windows 8 ARM, but beyond that, nothing. While this means there won't be many compatible apps at launch, it also means this will be the first full-bodied version of Windows that won't (initially) be susceptible to viruses and malware..."
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Windows 8 ARM Will Not Support Legacy Software

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  • Given that its for tablets with a touch UI. I doubt there's a huge demand for x86 software from the 1990s to run natively on such devices. Most of the apps they'll run are likely to be web-based with processing performed on the remote machine.
    • by sdnoob (917382)

      incompatibility with existing applications will be the driving force of the inevitable "windows 8 arm edition app store" and the pile of money microsoft expects to make from it.

    • by DrXym (126579)

      Given that its for tablets with a touch UI. I doubt there's a huge demand for x86 software from the 1990s to run natively on such devices. Most of the apps they'll run are likely to be web-based with processing performed on the remote machine.

      That depends. I can see the benefit of a tablet which has a touch screen UI while you're carrying it around but which reverts to a full desktop when you dock it.

      As for apps, I doubt there are many enterprise orgs which don't have at least 1 application either thick client or browser based app with an ActiveX control or hardcoded IE6/7 dependencies in it. By ignoring reality Microsoft run a serious risk of alienating people most inclined to use the device.

      I hope for Microsoft's sake that they're working

      • I hope for Microsoft's sake that they're working on something akin to LLVM so that C++/C apps can be rebuilt in an architecture neutral manner.

        I thought that's precisely what the .NET Framework and the C++/CLI language were for.

        • by DrXym (126579)
          .NET requires you write in C# or some other .NET CLR compatible language. Which is fine if you're writing from scratch. It's not so fine if you have a 200,000 line program written in C/C++.

          What I'm suggesting is DevStudio should have a build target analogous to LLVM. When you choose to build the app to this target the compiler spits out a low level language which is converted to native assembly at runtime. Each version of Windows 8 would provide runtime support for the virtualized hardware so the same com

    • by Nursie (632944)

      Software from the 90s will be fine as soon as someone builds DosBox for it!

      It's software from the 2000's that's not .Net that's going to be the problem.

  • by symbolset (646467) * on Thursday May 19, 2011 @03:06AM (#36176010) Journal

    Intel went so far as to say that legacy software would "not ever" run on ARM. To do that they have to have to have the stick of software patents to prevent an ARM->x86 emulator.

    This is not good for Microsoft. It means their relationship with Intel is irretrievably broken. The WinTel alliance is no more.

    As consumers we can win from this. Without the constraint of making the bloated Windows OS run on their chips, Intel can dive into low power. Without the glacial software development lifecycle in Redmond Intel can bring out new stuff faster. That's good stuff.

    The distant threat is that when Intel seeks a market they want all of it. They're late to this game and their Atom chips don't cut it yet - their promises are some 24-36 months out, and ARM and Microsoft are not going to be standing still in the meantime. They're promising "best in class mobile video tech" but I swear to God if they buy Imagination Technologies to cut out ARM mobile chipset vendors I'm going to fucking do everything in my power to kill them. That would shift Intel from the "Invention of technologies" camp to the "prevention of technologies" camp. I'm not OK with that.

    But if what Intel means is that they're going to let the legacy go and deliver the best low-power chips they can, that's a good thing. Your PC doesn't have to burn the watts it does. There are lots of folk in the third world with valuable input who don't have watts. It does not take a kilowatt gaming rig to work spreadsheets any longer.

    • by Bert64 (520050)

      The trouble with Intel is that they are tying themselves to x86, which carries with it a lot of legacy cruft that ARM doesn't have to deal with... The end result is that, in order to remain competitive with ARM Intel have to keep a step ahead on fabrication technology, since an ARM fabbed on the same process will always have an advantage.

      • by iserlohn (49556)

        If you have to increase the amount of L2 and L3 cache and implement pipelining to get the type of integer performance that x86/AMD64 processors are achieving for this type of workload, then all of the savings that you should automagically get from ARM pretty much dissipated. The translations between the CISC x84 instruction set and the internal RISC core of modern x86 CPU are relatively efficient.

        The only reason I see that MS is moving to ARM is because from a power consumption and scalability standpoint, i

    • by Pseudonym Authority (1591027) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @03:57AM (#36176330)

      As consumers we can win from this. Without the constraint of making the bloated Windows OS run on their chips, Intel can dive into low power. Without the glacial software development lifecycle in Redmond Intel can bring out new stuff faster. That's good stuff.

      Yeah, it was Windows holding them back, not the laws of physics. Nice catch.
      Oh, and Windows is better with power than any of the Linux distros I've used.

      • With a [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maemo]little optimization[/url], Linux can be /far/ better with power than Windows ever can.
        Just because you're running a desktop-oriented distribution doesn't mean the underlying system's poor.

        • Just because you're running a desktop-oriented distribution doesn't mean the underlying system's poor.

          Whelp, better not compare it to Windows like symbolset did then. It's a bit unfair to compare a desktop OS to an OS running on a phone or something, surely you can agree?

          • Well, I think we're talking about the use case of laptops. With a laptop, windows power consumption may be lower than Linux /in some cases/(others swear it's the opposite), it's not the fault of Linux, just of how optimized it is for the device. Maemo's a good example of what you can do with a little optimization, and it doesn't really give much up compared to a desktop-optimized distro. When it comes to tablets and phones, if we take the example of Maemo again, we can have a highly battery optimized Linux
            • {Oops, html mode makes aweful looking plain text)

              Well, I think we're talking about the use case of laptops. With a laptop, windows power consumption may be lower than Linux /in some cases/(others swear it's the opposite), it's not the fault of Linux, just of how optimized it is for the device. Maemo's a good example of what you can do with a little optimization, and it doesn't really give much up compared to a desktop-optimized distro.

              When it comes to tablets and phones, if we take the example of Maemo agai

    • by PickyH3D (680158)

      Without the constraint of making the bloated Windows OS run on their chips, Intel can dive into low power. Without the glacial software development lifecycle in Redmond Intel can bring out new stuff faster. That's good stuff.

      Because Microsoft is moving to ARM, known for its high power draw. Clearly, Windows is the reason that Intel chips have been devouring power like that is the main focus of their chips.

      Microsoft had one OS slip: Vista (note: this is not referring to flops, such as Windows ME). They corre

    • Emulators are barely relevant. ARM will probably be on portable battery powered devices. Emulation will chew up processor/power resources so that emulated programs will be unviable on the target devices.

      People who want to run a lot of x86 applications should stick with their standard laptops and 3 hour battery life. Emulation will drain a normally 8 hour ARM device down to 3 hours or less anyway (would we expect it possible to do better in software than hardware? - the Intel x86 guys ARE trying)

      I'm assu

  • .NET (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dowlingw (557752) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @03:06AM (#36176018) Homepage
    It's not like Microsoft don't want you to use .NET anyway. All Microsoft need to do is support the CLR runtime and framework under the new version and anything running on .NET that doesn't call unmanaged code will work straight away. Same for anything running on Java, and it's not like that doesn't run on other architectures already. That means productivity apps like OpenOffice/etc will also work. It's not all doom and gloom!
    • by Junta (36770)

      OpenOffice is not written in Java (or .NET), so it won't work.

      I would say a vast majority of Windows applications are *not* .NET (notably games, old-as-dirt product lines)

    • Re:.NET (Score:4, Interesting)

      by bk2204 (310841) <sandals@crustytoothpaste.net> on Thursday May 19, 2011 @11:03AM (#36180194) Homepage

      Unfortunately, as people trying to get .NET apps to run on Mono have found, a very significant portion of those .NET apps do actually call unmanaged code.

  • Simple solution... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by indeterminator (1829904) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @03:07AM (#36176026)
    ... the software publishers will just compile their stuff for ARM. How hard can that be?
    • by nstlgc (945418)
      Nobody needs to know. Stop pissing on our Pissing-On-Micro$oft parade.
    • by The MAZZTer (911996) <megazzt@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Thursday May 19, 2011 @07:30AM (#36177594) Homepage
      There are plenty of legacy applications that will never be recompiled, because the source code was lost or the company that has it doesn't care anymore or dissolved. Businesses may even rely on such applications for business-critical processes.
  • Really? (Score:5, Informative)

    by cbope (130292) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @03:08AM (#36176040)

    This just in, x86 and ARM instruction sets are NOT compatible! Everyone panic! Blame MS! No, wait... Sony must have had a hand in this!

    File this under no shit, Sherlock.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by stms (1132653)

      Then what does Rosetta do on Mac?

      • by oiron (697563)

        It's a VM, naturally.

        One could conceivably write a VM for Windows 8 to emulate x86 on the ARM, but that wouldn't be native. It would be a VM.

        I see this as some Intel FUD sowing about the whole ARM craze, really...

      • by cbope (130292)

        Rosetta is a binary emulator/translator. You are not running non-x86 instructions on x86, they are translated from their native PowerPC instructions to x86 equivalents. Rosetta is far from comprehensive and does not magically work with every PowerPC app, unlike what Apple would like you to believe. Many basic apps which don't do anything complicated generally work, but once you go outside that small area, things fall apart pretty quickly.

        It's also rumored to be discontinued in the upcoming OS X Lion.

        • Re:Really? (Score:4, Informative)

          by Richard_at_work (517087) <richardprice.gmail@com> on Thursday May 19, 2011 @06:31AM (#36177080)

          I would beg to differ with regard to Rosetta not working with anything complicated, and I have a perfect example - Mac Office 2004 on a Core Duo Macbook Pro, verses iWork Numbers on the same platform.

          I had a spreadsheet with about 200 data points, of which I wanted to make three graphs - in Numbers, running natively on Intel, it dragged along for tens of minutes when rebuilding the graphs. With Mac Office 2004, running under Rosetta, Excel had the whole thing done in a couple of seconds.

          I haven't used Numbers since.

    • by itsdapead (734413) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @05:29AM (#36176770)

      This just in, x86 and ARM instruction sets are NOT compatible! Everyone panic! Blame MS! No, wait... Sony must have had a hand in this!

      File this under no shit, Sherlock.

      I think what intel is saying is that MS are:

      • not planning to include any sort of integrated x86 emulation/translation in Win8/ARM (maybe you'll be able to run QEMU or something*, but it won't be seamless like Rosetta on the Mac)
      • that Windows 8 is going to drop some of legacy API support available in WIndows 7 - and while Win8 x86 is going to offer a "classic" mode this won't be available on ARM (...I wonder if this is a reference to the existing virtualization-based legacy mode in Win7/Vista?)

      Of course, what Microsoft gets and Intel apparently doesn't is that Win8/ARM's main competitors will not be other Windows machines (as was the case when Windows NT briefly supported other processors such as Alpha) but against iOS and Android in the mobile world and Linux in the server world. If Win8/ARM netbooks can run "geniune" MS Office and Win8/ARM servers talk "genuine" Active Directory and Exchange Server, along with lots of "modern" windows software written in .NET, some people will choose them over iOS, Android or Linux. Intel will surely be the solution of choice for corporates wanting to run their 1990-era dBaseII systems - but even that market will eventually fade away.

      As for tablets and smartphones - they'll need custom-designed software anyway so legacy is irrelevant.

      (* Hell, I was running x86 PC software via an emulator on my ARM3-based desktop back in 1990 - but the ARM3 was a desktop superchip that smoked the 286s of the day... maybe ARM will make a triumphant return to the desktop, but it will need a 64-bit makeover and a FPU).

    • by hey! (33014)

      In related news, Exxon announces that Windows 8 ARM computers will not run on gasoline. "At last a full-blooded Windows computer that is guaranteed to be non-flammable!" gushes an anonymous /. contributor.

  • I think Microsoft—after repeatedly failing in the tablet market with Windows—has finally noticed that precisely what allows the current tablets to succeed is that they don't try to act like a touch-screen desktop. There's no point in them bringing compatibility with old apps!

  • Initial Viruses (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dremth (1440207) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @03:22AM (#36176112)

    won't (initially) be susceptible to viruses and malware

    Well, now, I wouldn't speak too soon. There will undoubtedly be a beta release or a leak which will give malware authors ample time to develop zero-day viruses. And with Windows 8 exploring very different terrain this time around, there's bound to be a plethora of exploits just waiting for someone to coax them out of hiding (or plain sight).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 19, 2011 @03:24AM (#36176128)

    The article isn't completely accurate. It fails to specify that it will not natively run x86-based code on Win8 ARM. There's no valid reason why x86 code won't be able to run inside a virtual x86 machine running on top of the ARM architecture.

    The summary also makes this statement which is not accurate to the version in the article:

    it also means this will be the first full-bodied version of Windows that won't (initially) be susceptible to viruses and malware

    The actual quote is that it won't be susceptible to existing viruses and malware.
    They also assume that all code will have to be re-written from the ground up, which is completely false. Most application code will need to be ported, and in many cases security holes which are due to fundamental design flaws (as opposed to coding mistakes) will simply be ported along with it. So yes, a lot of existing malware will break but that's no reason to lay down and assume that developers who made crappy software in the past will suddenly cease their shitty practices.

  • As you know, a lot of open-source software can be compiled for ARM out-of-the-box. The F/OSS world can continue using existing apps even when the processor architecture changes.
  • Oblig (Score:4, Funny)

    by should_be_linear (779431) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @03:33AM (#36176194)
    "MS Office ought to be enough for anybody."
    -- Steve Ballmer, 2012
  • by AmiMoJo (196126) <[ten.3dlrow] [ta] [ojom]> on Thursday May 19, 2011 @03:44AM (#36176264) Homepage

    I think I speak for many here when I say that the editors need to, well, edit a bit more. The summary is full of bias which should be reserved for the comments. Can we please just have factual summaries in future?

    • I think I speak for many here when I say that the editors need to, well, edit a bit more. The summary is full of bias which should be reserved for the comments. Can we please just have factual summaries in future?

      Your Id is below 200k, you should know better not to ask.

  • by bitflusher (853768) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @03:59AM (#36176348) Homepage
    http://www.neowin.net/news/microsoft-intel-executive-was-wrong-about-windows-8 [neowin.net] Long story short, this statement from intel is incorrect. But guess what: intel is a chip manufacturer that sells x86 cpu's and has sold its arm devision a few years back, how much more biased do you want a source of information. In reality it will most likely be an ugly vm running your old non recompilable software slowly.
  • There will be two versions of Windows 8, Legacy and ARM - so pick one and stop whining.
    • by Tapewolf (1639955)

      There will be two versions of Windows 8, Legacy and ARM - so pick one and stop whining.

      If the Register's report on Intel's claim is correct, there will be one for each SoC. So it would be Windows 8 x64 edition, Windows 8 Tegra edition, Windows 8 OMAP edition, Windows 8 Snapdragon edition and so on...

      • Re: a-duh (Score:4, Interesting)

        by JackDW (904211) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @04:53AM (#36176612) Homepage

        And that is the really shocking thing that will actually kill the platform - fragmentation. All of these different versions will be incompatible with each other, forwards and backwards. Intel must be laughing their asses off.

        The lack of a standard "ARM platform" has already been a big problem for Linux netbooks. They're all x86 because each ARM platform is different and requires a different BSP, making ongoing support a complete nightmare. I have to say, I really expected Microsoft to force the ARM SoC makers to standardise.

        The lack of any sort of x86 emulator is really the icing on the cake. The big advantage of Windows is gone. But I suppose there is still a possibility of a third-party emulator like the original Virtual PC for Mac.

        • by Tapewolf (1639955)

          To be fair, with linux on ARM, the binaries seem to be pretty interoperable, at least at the application level. AFAIK - and I will have to double-check that - I was able to run an armv5 binary built with Debian on an AC100 (Tegra2). Certainly this was not much of a problem with CE and PocketPC, and the Android NDK seems to be pretty robust too.

          At the kernel and bootstrap level, it's a freaking mess, though.

          • by JackDW (904211)

            I'd agree absolutely, it is not so difficult to have compatibility in "user mode", unless something really crazy is going on (like, some SoCs have VFP, NEON and Thumb while others don't.. which seems unlikely).

            But I don't like the idea of being reliant on the hardware vendor for OS updates, or (for that matter) being locked in to a particular OS because nothing else works on this highly specific platform. Android users have already suffered whenever telcos, vendors and manufacturers have failed to provide

  • That Intel knows so much about MS plans and development policy.
  • by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @06:20AM (#36177000)

    How does releasing Windows 8 for arm and not supporting x86 apps equate to "the first full-bodied version of Windows that won't (initially) be susceptible to viruses and malware...?"

    Does that mean that Windows 8 is closing all of the security holes that allow for viruses and malaware? If so, why would it just be the arm version that is protected? On the other hand, if they are not closing the security holes, how does using arm protect it? Just because a virus will have to be rewritten to execute on the arm platform does not mean the platform won't be susceptible to viruses and malware, unless the OS is changed to protect against it.

  • by Missing.Matter (1845576) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @08:59AM (#36178378)
    http://www.businessinsider.com/microsoft-says-intel-exec-was-wrong-about-windows-8-2011-5?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter [businessinsider.com]

    "Intel’s statements during yesterday’s Intel Investor Meeting about Microsoft’s plans for the next version of Windows were factually inaccurate and unfortunately misleading. From the first demonstrations of Windows on SoC, we have been clear about our goals and have emphasized that we are at the technology demonstration stage. As such, we have no further details or information at this time."

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