With Windows 7, Microsoft have made a clear effort to include the netbook market with the OS’s smaller footprint, reduced hardware utilization and the recent removal of the 3 application limit. However, one area of the market that doesn’t look to be included is ARM-based netbooks, according to Microsoft’s announcement at this week’s Computex trade show.
What is ARM?
ARM (Acorn/Advanced RISC Machines) is a type of CPU first made in the 1980’s. These small processors are developed for low power consumption and so are found in most portable devices including mobile phones, PDAs & iPods as well as hard drives and routers.
It is believed that Microsoft’s long standing relationships with Intel & AMD are behind their decision not to support ARM with Windows 7, although they have also been working with ARM for 12 years on Windows CE & Windows Mobile-both of which sit on ARM processors.
Microsoft’s official statement was:
At this time, Windows 7 does not support any ARM architecture. Currently, Windows works on both x86 and x64 platforms, which, thanks to the pervasive PC hardware standard, power the vast majority of the world’s laptops and desktops. In the specialized devices space, where ARM is well suited, we offer the Windows Embedded CE platform
The first three words, “at this time”, could be significant; does that mean that an ARM compatible version is in the works? Perhaps it will make a surprise appearance before the General Availability date of October 22nd or possibly the early part of 2010; it would certainly be a mistake for Redmond to dismiss this growing section of the market-particularly with Google Android’s arrival on 6 new ARM netbooks!