Mobile
Commentary
1/18/2011
12:25 AM
Ed Hansberry
Ed Hansberry
Commentary
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Windows Phone 7's Biggest Competitor - Windows 8?

The biggest threat to Windows Phone 7 may not be Android, iOS or any other smartphone platform. Instead, it may come, indirectly at least, from Microsoft. With ARM support coming to Windows 8, at least one manufacturer is considering this an opportunity to try creating a phone running the just-announced platform.

The biggest threat to Windows Phone 7 may not be Android, iOS or any other smartphone platform. Instead, it may come, indirectly at least, from Microsoft. With ARM support coming to Windows 8, at least one manufacturer is considering this an opportunity to try creating a phone running the just-announced platform.Earlier this month Microsoft announced that its next version of Windows, presumably Windows 8, will have ARM support in addition to the x86 instruction set it currently supports. The last time Microsoft supported a vastly different processor type for client systems was when Windows NT 4 had support for x86, MIPS, Alpha and PowerPC processors. The press release stated:

"Today we announced that the next version of Windows will support a new kind of hardware, SoC [system on chip] architectures, that will power the next generation of devices. NVIDIA, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments are working on SoC designs based on the ARM architecture. Intel and AMD will continue to innovate on the x86 32-bit and 64-bit platforms, including new SoC or low-power systems."

Oddly enough, Intel is the one though that is planning on a Windows 8 phone, on its x86 chip no less. Intel thinks the Atom processor running a trimmed down version of Windows 8 will outperform an ARM processor running the same platform. It also has several advantages. Tiny screen and limited hardware support aside, virtually any desktop app could theoretically run on such a device whereas an ARM device would have to have software recompiled for it.

Of course, there are downsides. There are reasons there aren't Atom based phones out there. More processing power means more power consumption. As battery technology advances, all other things being equal, an ARM device should give the user more battery life than an Atom device.

I am not so sure the market needs a phone though with the power of a desktop. It isn't the first time this has been attempted, though it may be the first time the technology of the OS as well as hardware may be able to handle it. Time will tell. Windows 8 may be out as late as this year, just two years after Windows 7 was released. Do you think 2012 will bring phones powered by Windows 8? If so, will they be viable competition to smartphone powered by hardware and software that is designed from the ground up for mobile phones? I have my doubts.

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