Microsoft details Windows 8 on ARM tablets at MWC
Microsoft's Steven Sinofsky took centerstage at MWC to talk about the Windows 8 Consumer Preview that is available for download to young and old on this very Leap Day.
Then Mike Anguilo took over to talk about the biggest mystery about Windows 8 so far - how will it behave on tablets with ARM-based chipsets, so that it keeps its essential Windows heritage, and still has the battery life and touch-optimized interface of a mobile OS.
Mike started by holding a tablet with NVIDIA Tegra 3 in his hands, saying that the same things that were shown a little while ago with Win 8 on Intel chipsets, can be done on this tablet as well. He went on to say that Tegra 3, as well as the next generation of Snapdragon and TI OMAP have been certified for Win 8 tablets, along with Intel's Clover Trail platform.
The code sharing goes as deep as Internet Explorer, and Windows Store, the application shop for Win 8, will be handling the downloads, automatically sending the x86 or the ARM version to your device. Best of all, Office 15 will be on WoA tablets, heavily optimized for the new touch-y world. There is also a new class of drivers made for ARM chipsets - for mice, keyboards, printers and so on. This is huge news, making ARM-based slates something more than a toy.
Since both the ARM tablets and the thin and light ultrabooks that are coming with Win 8 will be traveling more now that they are so compact, Microsoft has paid special attention to connectivity. There is a new panel with connectivity switches, including airplane mode, and the tablets, for example, will stay connected even in standby state. The system has a cost-efficient connectivity mode, which switches seamlessly between Wi-Fi networks, if available, and cellular data, thus preventing you from hitting that data cap too quickly.
Apps have also been heavily optimized, so when Mike Anguilo ran a bunch of the default ones, the system didn't stutter, and he didn't have to close any of them, they get suspended in the background, if needed.
Microsoft seems fully aware that touch has changed the interaction paradigm, and has built Win 8 from the ground up for touch - it even demonstrated it on a 86-inch PC, basically a giant screen allowing multiple points of touch input and even drawing on it with a pen. We didn't see a hint of Ballmer at the keynote, and Sinofsky wore jeans and his coolest sneakers. Hmmm.