During a press briefing at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this afternoon, Microsoft confirmed that the next version of Windows will expand beyond Intel's traditional x86 architecture to work on the ARM processors common in mobile devices and slate-style computers.
As reported earlier this week on TechFlash, the company announced that chip makers Nvidia, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments will ARM processors for Windows machines. The move illustrates Microsoft's determination to make the traditional PC version of Windows viable on future devices competing with Apple's iPad. Also of note: It turns out Microsoft Office will be making the leap to ARM, as well.
"Microsoft Office is an important part of customers’ PC experience and ensuring it runs natively on ARM is a natural extension of our Windows commitment to (System on a Chip) architectures," says Steven Sinofsky, the Microsoft Windows president, in a Q&A posted this afternoon on the Microsoft press site.
But with the capability not expected to arrive until Windows 8, the company was vague on the mechanics of how the expansion to ARM will work for third-party Windows application developers. Ina Fried of All Things D asked Sinofsky about that topic during the press briefing, and surmised from his answer that the transition will involve some extra work for those developers.
Apart from that, the big headline out of the briefing was the announcement of a new Microsoft Surface version that takes the machine out of the realm of "big-ass table" and makes it considerably thinner. The new version, to be manufactured by Samsung, is four inches thick. Mary Jo Foley of ZDNet has more details, and Long Zheng has pictures in his live blog at istartedsomething.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer gives the opening keynote address at CES at 6:30 tonight, and it will be available for viewing in a live stream on this Microsoft page.