Microsoft again clarifies that Windows 8 tablets won't actually run Windows apps

Posted:
in iPad edited January 2014
The president of Microsoft's Windows unit, Stephen Sinofsky, has again pointedly clarified that new ARM tablets running Windows 8 next year won't actually run existing Windows apps for PCs.



"We've been very clear since the very first CES demos and forward that the ARM product won't run any x86 applications," Sinofsky said in a meeting with financial analysts yesterday, according to a report by InformationWeek.



While the company has made no secret about the fact that it plans no cross processor support for ARM and x86 apps in Windows 8, some were confused by Sinofsky's comments at the recent BUILD conference, where he said that "the demos we are showing you today are equally at home on ARM or x86."



The hardware Microsoft demonstrated Windows 8 running on was primarily conventional x86 PCs, including an Intel Core i5 device made by Samsung that resembled the iPad. The company also showed the pre-beta software running on a prototype ARM tablet.



That device, powered by NVIDIA's quad core Kal-El ARM chip, was only briefly demonstrated to This is my next, with passing mention being able to "see" the Windows 8 desktop.



That doesn't translate into actually being able to run existing Windows apps or future Windows 8 apps compiled for x86 PCs, however. The only thing Windows 8 tablets will run are the web-based Metro apps.



Sinofsky went on to explain that adding cross platform support would be too difficult to support in Windows 8, saying, "If we allow the world of x86 application support like that, or based on what we call desktop apps in our start yesterday, then there are real challenges in some of the value proposition for [ARM] System on a Chip.



"Will battery life be as good, for example? Those applications aren't written to be really great in the face of limited battery constraints, which is a value proposition of the Metro-style apps."



Intel offers to disparage ARM tablets



Intel's senior VP Renee James had earlier remarked at the May Intel Developer Forum that Windows 8 on ARM would not support x86 apps.



"On ARM, there'll be the new experience, which is very specifically around the mobile experience, specifically around tablet and some limited clamshell [form factor products], with no legacy OS."



James added, "Our [ARM] competitors will not be running legacy applications. Not now, not ever."



Those comments were contradicted by Microsoft at the time, which claimed they were "factually inaccurate and misleading."



Microsoft not good at cross platform



As a company, Microsoft once tried to offer Windows NT with cross platform support for various processors, including x86, MIPS and PowerPC. That effort was abandoned starting with Windows 2000. The company similarly worked to support various mobile platforms in Windows CE but has since focused on ARM, the clear leader in that market.



With Windows XP, the company added support for both Intel's Itanium IA64 and the AMD-originated x64, a 64-bit extension of x86. However, both products require separate apps and separate versions of the operating system. In contrast, Apple has moved from 68k to PowerPC to Intel x86, each time offering robust backwards compatibility for existing apps.



In its move from x86 to 64-bit apps, Apple delivered a similarly smooth transition, allowing Universal Binary apps to work on either platform, and distribution one version of Mac OS X capable of running on either 32 or 64 bit hardware.



Apple's iOS is ARM-only, and iOS apps do not run on Mac OS X (and vice versa). However, Apple has never suggested that there would be one solution to run everything in the way that Microsoft has with Windows 8.



Users refuse to believe that Windows 8 tablets won't run Windows apps



Users commenting on stories about Windows 8 reveal that many people are under the impression that the new release, expected a year from now, will run existing Windows games, existing PC apps like Office and Photoshop, as well a new layer of Metro apps.



"Windows 8 tablets will have x86, 64, and ARM chips, so to say that Windows tablets won't run x86 code is just flat out stupid. The tablets handed out at BUILD are using Intel x86 chips, so to say 'the tablet doesn't support legacy apps' is idiotic," one confused reader fumed after InformationWeek cited the president of Windows at Microsoft as clearly stating "the ARM product won't run any x86 applications."



Microsoft is demonstrating expensive x86 tablets because those devices are the only ones currently capable of running the pre-beta demos. Microsoft has made it very clear that it expects tablets to run ARM processors, given the continuous failure of heavy, expensive, and far less efficient x86 tablets to find buyers in the market.



"So all this time Microsoft has just been making a touch tablet!" another user complained. "We all thought that they were going to make a tablet that would run legacy desktop apps. The wait is over. Go out and get an iPad."



A variety of enterprise users are already using legacy Windows apps on the iPad, via Citrix, along with other native iOS apps. Whether Microsoft can convince them to switch to Windows 8 remains to be seen. The company was unable to get PC users to switch from the iPod to the Zune, and equally unsuccessful at getting PC iPhone users to switch back to Windows Phone 7.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 135
    File this one under "WTF?"



    Seriously, why shoehorn the Windows desktop environment into a tablet if it can't even run Windows apps? What's the point?
  • Reply 2 of 135
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by inkswamp View Post


    Seriously, why shoehorn the Windows desktop environment into a tablet if it can't even run Windows apps? What's the point?



    Because Microsoft has nothing better to do?
  • Reply 3 of 135
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by inkswamp View Post


    File this one under "WTF?"



    Seriously, why shoehorn the Windows desktop environment into a tablet if it can't even run Windows apps? What's the point?



    Plus their insistence on hanging the "Windows" name on EVERYTHING will only serve to confuse people further about this.



    They'll have to spend millions in marketing just to tell people they'll have to buy tablet versions of all their software.



  • Reply 4 of 135
    sheffsheff Posts: 1,407member
    So, the tablets will only run the start menu? From what I understand those apps are nothing more than HTML5. Will the apps have access to deeper level of the OS to run more sophisticated apps like 3d games and apps similar to garage band and photo shop? If not, there is really no point.



    I have Windows 8 sitting inside parallels on MBP. I gotta say, the start menu level is pretty useless. I would compare it to widget pane in lion (when you swipe all the way to the left). Sure you can get weather and twitter, but that won't compete with the iPad.



    Without the windows 7 desktop "app" that os is nothing more than a glorified widget screen with a giant WP7 web browser.
  • Reply 5 of 135
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by PhillyMJS View Post


    Plus their insistence on hanging the "Windows" name on EVERYTHING will only serve to confuse people further about this.



    Worrying about what other people will find confusing is just plain silly.



    Was it confusing for Mac users — myself included — when we had to start checking whether software was Intel only or could run on our old PowerPC Mac? No. Occasionally frustrating, sure.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sheff View Post


    Without the windows 7 desktop "app" that os is nothing more than a glorified widget screen with a giant WP7 web browser.



    People said the iPad was just a big iPod Touch, too. They were wrong. BADLY wrong.



    There's a lot that Metro apps will be able to do, and it will be more than just the equivalent of offline web apps.
  • Reply 6 of 135
    I am shocked. The biggest selling point Windoze has is the x86 huge number of applications. Without this they are actually going to be at a disadvantage to Android and iOS.



    Wow, I am actually impressed MS had the balls to do this...
  • Reply 7 of 135
    I've been reading these windows users posts and it really is comical. What kind of moron thinks that these standard desktop apps would run on lower powered ARM tablets? Especially MSFT's own bloated Office pigs. In classic MSFT fashion, they are confusing their own users albeit with a confused strategy. Windows 8 is nothing more than Windows with neon lights.
  • Reply 8 of 135
    Wait a second, if iPad users can run legacy Windows apps via Citrix for iPad, then Windows Tablet users should be able to do the same (with a Citrix app developed for their platform). So they WILL be able to run Windows apps, just like iPad users can.
  • Reply 9 of 135
    sheffsheff Posts: 1,407member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by gmcalpin View Post


    People said the iPad was just a big iPod Touch, too. They were wrong. BADLY wrong.



    There's a lot that Metro apps will be able to do, and it will be more than just the equivalent of offline web apps.



    We'll see about that. I am talking about what I see today. Without desktop app the OS (windows 8) that resides in my parallels folder is useless in my opinion. May as well be chrome OS, which also lives on my mac after I hit the full screen arrows on chrome browser window.
  • Reply 10 of 135
    tenobelltenobell Posts: 7,014member
    Because Windows desktops apps are not designed for small touch screens.



    Just like with iOS, Windows developers will have to build new apps for Metro touch screen.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by inkswamp View Post


    File this one under "WTF?"



    Seriously, why shoehorn the Windows desktop environment into a tablet if it can't even run Windows apps? What's the point?



  • Reply 11 of 135
    jd_in_sbjd_in_sb Posts: 1,600member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by MacInsider2 View Post


    I am shocked. The biggest selling point Windoze has is the x86 huge number of applications. Without this they are actually going to be at a disadvantage to Android and iOS.



    I totally agree. When I saw the demo I thought that the ability to run native Windows applications was the one thing that would differentiate Windows 8 from all the other tablets ("A tablet and full Windows desktop - all in one!"). Without that ability it will be DOA - unless it costs $99.



    Now I understand why the demo tablet had a fan. They crammed desktop hardware in there.



    Their slogan has been "Windows 8 Everywhere Without Compromise." That's totally false. They need to name the tablet "Metro" and ditch the Windows name if it won't run Windows desktop applications. Maybe they should use Intel Atom and ditch ARM so they can run x86 apps.
  • Reply 12 of 135
    Call me a contrarian but I don't think it's a good idea at all to allow Win8/ARM to run Win/x86 apps. I can't believe folks are actually saying that the ability to run x86 desktop apps on a tablet was supposed to be some type of selling point. M$ tried for 10 years to sell tablets that ran a desktop OS and desktop apps and that got them absolutely nowhere. If they had decided to burn engineering resources and cause Win8 bloat by trying to shoehorn x86 compatibility into Win8/ARM, then they'd absolutely be doomed.



    Now do they have a problem with expectations, yes they do and they absolutely will have to take steps to figure out exactly how to address it (e.g. distinct names and marketing for mobile version vs pc version).



    But I say good for them for keeping their eyes looking forward. Apple has already proven that you don't have to have desktop app support for a tablet.
  • Reply 13 of 135
    I don't understand why this is a news.

    A person with little computer knowledge should know this from day 1.

    It's two different architectures. That's also one of the reasons why Apple won't release MBA with a ARM CPU. You will start with 0 apps!

    Windows 8 hype is way bigger than that of any Apple product.

    Microsoft has said they would not release a tablet OS until they can be different.

    I don't know how they can ever achieve this.

    W8 for tablet and W8 for desktop are two completely separate products.

    The only thing they share is the name.

    W8 for tablet will be fighting with matured iPad and maturing Android with 0 apps.

    Saying it runs apps via Citrix thing is silly too because Citrix is just a dump remote app similar to VNC and you have to have a server to host the app.
  • Reply 14 of 135
    I will get bashed for this BUT isnt this an apple website? Why is there a windows news story on the front page? Id rather go to a windows site to read windows news .
  • Reply 15 of 135
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by PhillyMJS View Post


    Plus their insistence on hanging the "Windows" name on EVERYTHING will only serve to confuse people further about this.



    They'll have to spend millions in marketing just to tell people they'll have to buy tablet versions of all their software.







    Have to agree. Microsoft are creating the confusion by not giving up the Windows name. Why call it Windows 8 if it can't run Windows applications. What do they when people when people buy a Windows OS. MS want to use their Windows brand to sell a tablet that can't run Windows applications. How stupid. They are too nervous to give a completely different name.
  • Reply 16 of 135
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ALUOp View Post


    A person with little computer knowledge should know this from day 1.

    It's two different architectures. That's also one of the reasons why Apple won't release MBA with a ARM CPU. You will start with 0 apps!



    "Architecture? You mean like a bridge?"



    People with little computer knowledge don't give a flying frick about any of that. They don't have A SINGLE CLUE. People think iOS applications work on Android machines, for heaven's sake. They'll see the word "Windows" on their Windows 8 tablet and complain, "Why can't I put my games on this? It says 'Requires Windows 7 or later'. This is later!"



    Quote:

    Windows 8 hype is way bigger than that of any Apple product.



    No, not really.
  • Reply 17 of 135
    8002580025 Posts: 172member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    The president of Microsoft's Windows unit, Stephen Sinofsky, has again pointedly clarified that new ARM tablets running Windows 8 next year won't actually run existing Windows apps for PCs [ View this article at AppleInsider.com ][/c]



    Yet another in a continuing stream of reasons to avoid anything and everything Microsoft.
  • Reply 18 of 135
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by PhillyMJS View Post


    Plus their insistence on hanging the "Windows" name on EVERYTHING will only serve to confuse people further about this.



    They'll have to spend millions in marketing just to tell people they'll have to buy tablet versions of all their software.









    But, most likely, there won't be any Windows 8 ARM versions of their apps to buy.



    If it were something MS cared about wouldn't MS be demoing Windows 8 ARM versions of Word, Excel, PP on ARM tablets.



    By the time the Windows 8 ARM tablets are ready, Apple will have a 2 year plus lead running Pages, Numbers and Keynote on the iPads. I expect that we will see improvements in these iPad apps as the iPad hardware becomes more capable.



    Now, no one claims that these apps are the equivalent of their Office counterparts -- and that's a good thing. They have features and ease-of-use that satisfies most users' needs.
  • Reply 19 of 135
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    The president of Microsoft's Windows unit, Stephen Sinofsky, has again pointedly clarified that new ARM tablets running Windows 8 next year won't actually run existing Windows apps for PCs.



    [...]



    Users commenting on stories about Windows 8 reveal that many people are under the impression that the new release, expected a year from now, will run existing Windows games, existing PC apps like Office and Photoshop, as well a new layer of Metro apps.







    Ready for your retractions, all you MS-boosters -- you know who you are; the ones who yesterday were saying Win8 was going to kill the iPad - and then who got all defensive in response to the slightest pushback from this forum.
  • Reply 20 of 135
    chris_cachris_ca Posts: 2,543member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by scotty321 View Post


    Wait a second, if iPad users can run legacy Windows apps via Citrix for iPad



    They can't.

    The Windows apps are running on a computer which is accessed by the iPad.

    The iPad is not running Windows apps anymore than your monitor is running Windows apps.
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