CES 2011 saw the debut of what could be the biggest challenge to the Wintel dominance of personal computing since Windows 95 cemented its position. The combination of the Android operating system on ARM processors -- ARMdroid if you will -- grabbed most of the attention in the emerging tablet category on products such as devices such as the Motorola Xoom and LG G-Slate. But it was also clear that manufacturers -- unconstrained by Cupertinian notions of what operating system is best suited to what kind of device -- are willing to take the combination in new directions that come much closer to the notebook form factor. A clear example of this was the ASUS Eee Pad Slider. If having the tablet thunder stolen from Microsoft wasn't enough to make the company uncomfortable, clearly encroaching designs like this were.
And so, at Steve Ballmer's keynote, the company announced that the next version of Windows will support not only x86 offerings from Intel and AMD – themselves moving closer to ARM-like system-on-chips – but ARM designs from companies such as Qualcomm and NVIDIA as well. Microsoft noted that the new chip support was requested by its partners, implying that PC companies want to take advantage of the long battery life and thin form factors enabled by ARM architectures, but also bring along Windows' broad driver and software support. Microsoft clearly considers the tablet another PC, albeit one that Windows' hardware and user interface layer needs to support better. However, in striking back at Android evolution, Microsoft risks collateral damage to its own mobile OS. Can Windows Phone 7 co-exist with a ARM-based version of the real thing?Please follow us on twitter if you enjoy reading our posting. We support the Apple iPhone User Group on facebook.
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