LAS VEGAS — Jan. 5, 2011 — At a press conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, in advance of the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Microsoft announced that the next version of Windows will support System on a Chip (SoC) architectures including ARM-based systems from partners NVIDIA, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments. Intel and AMD continue their work on low-power SoC designs on the x86 architecture that fully support Windows, including support for millions of x86 applications worldwide. SoC architectures will fuel significant innovation across the hardware spectrum when coupled with the depth and breadth of the Windows platform.
Steven Sinofsky, president of the Windows and Windows Live Division.
The Microsoft News Center team talked with Steven Sinofsky, president of the Windows and Windows Live Division, in advance of the announcement.
Microsoft News Center: Can you give us an overview of what led you to make this announcement today and what the specific news is?
Sinofsky: We are making this announcement now to allow greater collaboration across our expanded partner ecosystem so we can bring to market the widest possible set of PCs and devices, from tablets on up, with the next generation of Windows. We’re at a point in engineering the next release of Windows where we are demonstrating our progress and bringing together an even broader set of partners required to deliver solutions to customers.
We’ve reached a point in technology where everyone really does want everything from their computing experience — the power and breadth of software for today’s laptop, the long battery life and always-on promise of a mobile phone, and the possibilities from a new generation of tablets. Bringing these capabilities together to meet customer demand requires innovation in hardware as well as a flexible, evolving software platform to bring it to life.
Today we announced that the next version of Windows will support a new kind of hardware, SoC 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.
Microsoft News Center: Why is the move toward SoC architectures important – what benefits do they enable?
Sinofsky: Windows is thriving on x86 platforms today with Intel and AMD and we will continue to see that success in the future. The market and customer reaction to Windows 7 is a good indicator, with Windows 7 running on over 20 percent of all PCs accessing the Internet, and still more than seven copies are sold each second since its launch in October 2009. Building on that success, Intel and AMD are delivering important innovations on x86 for the future, in areas like graphics and performance, in addition to their new work on low-power systems. Intel’s 2nd Generation Intel® Core™ Processor Family announcements and AMD’s Fusion APUs announcements at CES are great examples of this continued progress. The x86 32-bit and 64-bit platforms and Windows, together, provide the capability for even more powerful, new scenarios to emerge at a rapid pace. Of course, we continue to partner strongly with Intel and AMD to deliver great solutions for customers across the broadest range of computing devices.
Microsoft News Center: Tell us about your partners on ARM-based systems. How were they selected and what do they bring to the table?
Sinofsky: It takes experienced partners to help deliver Windows to a whole new set of devices and we’re pleased NVIDIA, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments have joined us in this technology demonstration. We look forward to even more robust collaboration between silicon partners and a broader set of partners as we work together to bring new PCs and devices – from tablets on up – to market with the next version of Windows.
Microsoft News Center: You’ve talked about these new systems being ready for the next version of Windows. What does this mean for future hardware innovation on Windows 7?
Sinofsky: Windows 7 continues to be extraordinarily well-received by customers – consumers and businesses – using a broad selection of PCs for a wide variety of usage scenarios. There is no better place to see this array of choice and innovation than at a show like CES. At the Windows 7 launch, we saw a terrific line-up of new offerings from partners, and this CES brings another wave of great Windows 7 PCs across a wide range of form factors and capabilities, including new designs on Intel’s 2nd Generation Intel® Core™ Processor Family and AMD’s Fusion APUs. OEMs are delivering great designs and personalized selection across the wide range of PCs including convertibles, gaming rigs, all-in-ones, ultraportables, everyday laptops, and tablet PCs. We know we’ll see additional waves of hardware innovation over the next several seasons as well and we look forward to continuing to work closely with our partners.
Microsoft News Center: You mentioned the need for a flexible software platform – what does that tell us about where you’re heading with the next version of Windows?
Sinofsky: Windows has proven to be remarkably flexible throughout its evolution. Over the years it has evolved from 16-bit to 32-bit and then to 64-bit to take advantage of the latest technology capabilities. Windows has worked on a variety of silicon architectures as our industry has evolved. With hardware, Windows evolved from its desktop heritage to laptops, netbooks, and the world’s largest servers and smallest notebooks. And of course Windows has evolved dramatically over the years to deeply embrace Internet services. Windows has also evolved in what it requires to operate. Underlying this evolution is a renewed commitment to fundamental performance. Windows 7 was the first release of Windows to reduce required system resources. With today’s announcement and technology preview, we’re demonstrating that Windows will continue to be flexible and resilient – adapting and thriving in this next generation of computing.
Microsoft News Center: What exactly are you demonstrating today as part of this announcement with respect to Windows on ARM?
Sinofsky: Today’s demonstrations will highlight the work we have done on the architecture of Windows to enable the richness of the Windows platform to run natively on the ARM platform. That includes support across a full range of scenarios like hardware accelerated media playback, hardware accelerated Web browsing with the latest Internet Explorer, USB device support, printing, and other features customers have come to expect from their computing experience.
The underlying architecture and engineering work includes a significant set of capabilities to run natively on ARM across the low-level subsystems of Windows as we bring Windows together with this new hardware platform.
Today’s demonstration represents the first showing of the next release of Windows. We know many of our most enthusiastic supporters are interested in learning more about the user interface, programming APIs, and other new features to come in Windows. The announcement today is just the start of our dialog with a broad community around Windows and, as with Windows 7, we will be engaging in the broadest pre-release program of any operating system. So there is a lot more to come.
Microsoft News Center: What can you tell us about Office on ARM?
Sinofsky: We’re committed to making sure that Windows on SoC architectures is a rich Windows experience. 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 SoC architectures.
Microsoft News Center: What else can you say about the next version of Windows?
Sinofsky: What we showed today was a technology preview of how Windows can adapt to run on SoC architectures. We are making this announcement now to enable our silicon partners, including new ARM partners, to collaborate across the ecosystem to bring innovation to market with the next version of Windows. We’re hard at work on all the aspects of the next version of Windows and we’ll share more information when the time is right.