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The End of the Road for Wintel?
Microsoft today announced that they were developing a new OS to be deployed on ARM based devices. This is the final acknowledgement that the world has moved past the Windows – Intel controlled computing sphere. Announced initially in June as Windows EC7, this has been on a steady development path leveraging earlier Win CE efforts that have been successfully deployed on ARM devices albeit as an embedded OS. The Company is not giving up on x86 development which will continue to dominate the PC computing market. It is however giving a nod to the fact that newer devices which are expected to drive additional volumes of web usage have different requirements from a hardware and software perspective. The key has been being able to balance battery power and performance requirements – something Intel’s Atom has not done very successfully leading to a huge opportunity for ARM.
What impact does this have on developers? Microsoft’s move to support ARM provides an incentive for developers to port mainstream apps to ARM. But ARM based development is not a new beast for developers to tackle. Those that have jumped into developing apps for Android and/or iOS are already familiar with developing for the ARM platform. What developers need to focus on are the unique usability requirements related to consumption of apps on these various mobile devices.
Overall, the impact on existing Wintel market should be minimal but it seems that Intel will lose out on newer opportunities to come. You cannot count Intel out completely though for the company is fully capable of competing and “arm”-wrestle its way back into the game.