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Posted on February 29th, 2012 by Jon Honeyball

Has Microsoft blown Windows 8 on ARM?


The shock announcement this afternoon, in the Windows 8 Consumer Preview Product Guide for Business document, is as follows:

“ARM-based tablets running Windows 8 are ideal for workers who are constantly on the go and need a long-lasting battery. ARM-based tablets use less power than 32-bit and 64-bit devices and workers can rely on the extended uptime of these devices. Although the ARM- based version of Windows does not include the same manageability features that are in 32-bit and 64-bit versions, businesses can use these power-saving devices in unmanaged environments.”

Unmanaged environments? That means no Active Directory policy integration. No System Center integration. All the things that sysadmins have been waiting for, longing for, from Microsoft with the ARM version of Windows 8 are just not going to be there. Period. End of.

This is a hugely big deal. The one thing that sysadmins have been holding off deploying iPads for has gone missing in action.

So now the choice is simple for the sysadmin. He can choose Windows 8 on ARM, with no policy control, no app base, and a platform that is starting from zero, with no market share and no existing, experienced developer base for that platform. Or he can choose iPad. This too has no direct policy control, but has a huge app base, a desirable and proven platform, a rich development skills base, and market share that dominates everything else by far.

Now your sales director is hammering on the door wanting tablets for field workers, sales engineers, people in the warehouse. You Great Hope has just gone down the plughole. You sigh, pick up the phone, and call that iPad development firm you had scoped out.

Microsoft – how could you be so STUPID?


Posted in: Real World Computing


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33 Responses to “ Has Microsoft blown Windows 8 on ARM? ”

  1. Loz Lowe Says:
    February 29th, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    Or, y’know, get x86 tablets?

  2. David Coveney Says:
    February 29th, 2012 at 6:10 pm

    It won’t be that bad – ARM tablets for the masses, Intel tablets for the professionals.

    But before casting a final judgement I want to see what the ARM Win8 tablets are like. The overheads of full policy control are substantial and make it hard to offer simplified, low support products suitable for low-skill users – and *most* of the population is low-skill. They’re not like you and me.

  3. jon honeyball Says:
    February 29th, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    ah yes, those with the very long battery life. errrr…. errrr……

  4. Murph Says:
    February 29th, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    Jon has got it spot on – you want arm for battery life, for a not insignificant number of users it should make an excellent companion to a laptop or a better “take home” device than a big laptop.

    Of course I remain to be convinced by the development argument and – for the use-cases outlined – the real question is going to be cost.

    But its blatantly dumb when a key Microsoft USP is *policy* and its not there for its key mobile offerings…

  5. nichomach0 Says:
    February 29th, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    Or get Android? Battery life with that isn’t a problem, and while ACTUAL Office isn’t getting on them anytime soon Documents To Go does the job for most users. But, yes, indeed the thing that we’ve been waiting for has been completely screwed up. I sense the dead hand of Ballmer…

  6. Ally B Says:
    February 29th, 2012 at 8:02 pm

    Lets be honest, Jon was always going to have a gripe at something from today’s W8 Consumer Preview.

  7. TheBigM Says:
    February 29th, 2012 at 8:20 pm

    These WOA tablets will have full Office though. Although there are rumours, at the moment there is no Office on iPad.

  8. Damian Says:
    February 29th, 2012 at 9:09 pm

    Look John… There’s absolutely zero chance of adding ipads to the company network as it’ll just be used to install a whole load of ‘crap’ and the same goes for Arm based Windows 8 tabs. ‘IF’ any Win 8 tabs are purchased they will be exclusively for remote desktop and e-mail and will NEVER come anywhere near the network once they leave the building.

    You’re assuming something for all Admins by thinking that we want iPads in the first place and although some may want them some may not.

    I seriously do think that you may need to get out of the tech arena as you’re sounding like someone that is jaded ‘especially’ with MS and although I know that you may have your reasons Apple are most certainly no better.

    P.s. Don’t you think that MS will release a set of tools to lock these tablets? Do you really think that they’ll leave them wide open?

  9. Sean Says:
    February 29th, 2012 at 10:30 pm

    Honestly, is this journalism?

  10. Tim Says:
    February 29th, 2012 at 11:03 pm

    I work for a company with over 100,000 users worldwide and iPads are everywhere. Secured too. MS must not bet the farm on ARM here.

  11. MikeC Says:
    March 1st, 2012 at 12:05 am

    Zero chance of I pads getting to the corporate desktop??? A LOT of ICT depts are dictated to by the managers (esp when the managers/snr execs are the budget holders and policy makers) and by the numbers of staff/customers.
    We are a local authority, roughly 25000 staff, 12,000 computers and we are being forced to connect the dozens/hundreds of ipads to the corp network. You are wrong.

  12. wittgenfrog Says:
    March 1st, 2012 at 12:11 am

    Sorry Mr H, but your views on anything MS does have become increasingly jaundiced of late.

    I have absolutely no idea why you have assumed that its a choice between iPad and WOA.
    It seems pretty clear that INTEL Tablets are intended for corporates WOA ones are for the hoi-polloi.

    Me, I’ve got no idea how the ‘battle of the fondelslabs’ will all play out, but my gut feeling is that W8 Tablets will be a disruptive entry into Apple’s cosy hegemony….

    On a more general note, so-far I’m VERY impressed with W8 Consumer Preview.
    As a mere mortal I don’t have access to a Developer Tablet, but its working fine on my old PC (I3, 4 GB).
    Like many I was a bit dubious about how W8 would run as a WIMPs environment. The Metro interface is initially challenging, but very logical when you get used to it (it’s taken me about 40 minutes).
    Its really very fast and IE10 has some very useful new features. The various pre-installed Apps are OK, but obviously rather limited in quality and functionality.

    I’m about to install the big guns (Office 2010 etc.)

  13. Austin Says:
    March 1st, 2012 at 12:46 am

    Er… what, Jon? Did the statement say ARM is the only platform supported? No? So… what? You need to let go your hate, release your anger… these are not the crApples you are looking for.

    Sorry Jon, but crApple makes toys… seriously, they are toys, nothing more. Wake up and smell the much less expensive coffee.

  14. the bunker Says:
    March 1st, 2012 at 7:52 am

    It does feel like we’re in the midst of some pretty big changes in the industry & the old boys (inc MS, HP, RIM etc) are not really sure how to handle things & end up with a load of compromises that seriously deteriorate the USP for a big chunk of their target market – i.e.: corporate.

  15. jon honeyball Says:
    March 1st, 2012 at 8:02 am

    well that stirred up some emotions

    i’ll ignore the “is this journalism” and other comments — no, clearly this is a banana

    To the somewhat more enlightened readers, yes I think MS is making a big mistake. I suspect its all down to money – they want to split the Win8 license cost between “full fat Intel” and “cheap ARM”. Offering full business support on ARM means that the cheaper arm hardware will be squeezed even more by the Windows license cost

    As always, follow the money…

    As for those who doubt companies are looking at iPad – go open your eyes. From hotels to airlines (for inflight entertainment to pilot systems) to stock control systems for business to… shall I go on?

    Why didn’t I mention Android? There is much to like in that space – companies like Samsung and Asus are doing good work there. And if I look across the lab here, I could probably put my hands on just about every android tablet on the market. But the market is terribly fragmented by OS platform, update regime, and the base capabilities of the chosen device, and all of these represent real bottom line cost (and confusion) to a business deployment. iPad is mature, defined, supported and the updating route is clear. And there are a lot of iPad dev houses out there.

    For those who think I have a grudge against microsoft — oh dear me, go get a life. For 20 years, I have been dishing out praise where it is due, and criticism where it is due too. Microsoft has done some superb things over years, some ho-hum stuff, and some real dogs too. If you are not comfortable recognising that, then…



  16. Martyn WIlson Says:
    March 1st, 2012 at 9:18 am

    Always amused by the corporate view – generally help by tin pot dictators in the IT department telling folks they must use what they are told; however cranky, slow and hard to fathom. In my organisation pressure from staff is forcing the adoption of ARM based tablet/phone connection to the corporate networks – their (apparent) speed and ease of use enables workers who want to use them (and often wish to bin their PC’s) to demand just that. Fact is ARM based (Apple/Android) devices dominate in the market place whilst Wintel devices continue to slide – Microsoft can either get on board or continue to slide into relative obscurity whilst clinging to the life-raft of corporate dictate.

  17. JohnAHind Says:
    March 1st, 2012 at 9:57 am

    “ARM-based tablets use less power than 32-bit and 64-bit devices and workers can rely on the extended uptime of these devices.”

    The language is revealing: last time I checked, ARM *was* 32-bit! Microsoft seem to be trying to position it in our minds as 16-bit or in any case something intrinsically inferior to the Intel chips, even in 32-bit mode. Even emphasising the power advantage is something than can be expected to disappear as Intel ups its game and has access to superior fabrication processes. The real advantage of ARM is the business model: the fact that it enables a competitive marketplace in system-on-a-chip integration.

    Jon is right – Microsoft is trying to do what IBM tried back in the 80s with the original PC. It is trying to deliberately hobble and under-engineer the ARM version so it does not cannibalise their corporate market.

    It will be highly ironic if Google succeeds in doing unto Microsoft what Microsoft did unto IBM!

  18. Bill Maslen Says:
    March 1st, 2012 at 11:25 am

    Of course, Microsoft do have a fine tradition of doing this – look what happened to WinCE! That was actually quite a promising OS: I still have an ancient Packard-Bell “handheld PC” (well over 10 years old), and I weep every time I take it tenderly out of its drawer, play with it for a few minutes, and think what WinCE might have been… especially since it’s actually identical in battery life and weight to the iPad (of course the screen is half-VGA, but it’s big and clear, it’s a touchscreen – albeit resistive – and the keyboard is superb). And I bought it back in 1999 (yes, it’s still working!). What could have been, eh?!

  19. Mike Baldwin Says:
    March 1st, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    Arm is definitely the way forward.Even for servers and PC’s.Power hungry X86 and it’s bloat ware has had it’s day.Maybe Microsoft will realise that by Win8 SP1 or Win 9.Otherwise Linux/Google etc will pick up the slack.

  20. David Wright Says:
    March 1st, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    @Martyn Wilson: The “tin pot dictators” are responsible for the data within the organisation and have to, to the best of their abilities ensure that it is used within the law and that employees don’t abuse the company network. The IT manager and the directors are legally responsible for misuse of data and software licences.

    That is why it is not so easy to get “what you want”, when it comes to software and access. They have to think about their responsibilities to the company and the directors first.

    That is also why things such as remote administration, locking devices down, so that users can’t install software, remote wipe etc. are such important factors a business environment.

    That is something Apple quickly realised, with their corporate management tools, which allowed policies to be sent to the company iOS devices and restrict what the user can do – like installing Apps.

  21. jon honeyball Says:
    March 1st, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    my concern isnt only about WOA on tablet.

    Its WOA on small lightweight and very low power desktop units too. Which would be very interesting to a business user looking to replace (for example) Windows XP dinosaurs

  22. David Wright Says:
    March 1st, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    @Bill Maslen we still use Windows Mobile devices a lot. Most of the professional hand scanners (Motorola, Symbol etc.) still use Windows Mobile. Our customers use them for stock control etc. as the devices are robust and water proof, something that “tablets” still have to “learn”.

    You can also use them with gloves on, even chain mail gloves (meat cutting) and wash the blood off afterwards.

  23. David Wright Says:
    March 1st, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    @Jon Honeyball or even Windows Terminals, they are still very expensive and underpowered – you can pick up an entry level Pentium D computer for less than an Igel terminal!

  24. AW Says:
    March 2nd, 2012 at 9:25 am

    Anyone believes that Intel drew their cheque book to ensure that ARM wouldn’t eat away their market while Intel musters up the troops to invade ARM’s market? They did it before with AMD…

  25. TheBigM Says:
    March 2nd, 2012 at 10:04 am

    Surely this is only a problem as far as you don’t believe Intel can get down to the low power performance of ARM? (Even though they’ve already begun demonstrating credible smartphone and tablet SoCs).

    To me, it seems WOA has been positioned towards consumers by the fact they’ve been referring to them as CE devices and not PCs. I wouldn’t expect WOA on anything other than tablets this year. Laptops maybe in 2013 and desktops slightly less likely again.

    (Perhaps an OnLive terminal might be more appealing to businesses wanting to go down that route?)

  26. David Wright Says:
    March 2nd, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    @TheBigM and when users start turning up with WOA tablets and asking for them to be connected?

    At least with iOS devices, those on a corporate policy can be locked down (for example force a pin code/password to be entered when turning on etc.). If WOA can’t do that, they will be even less liked in the IS department.

    For corporates buying in, they will still go for more expensive Intel devices that can be locked down as required, but it will be a nightmare for companies using BYOD policies (Bring Your Own Device).

  27. wittgenfrog Says:
    March 2nd, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    Stupid system my comment won’t post.
    Is theis the end of civilisation as we know it????

  28. TheBigM Says:
    March 2nd, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    @David Wright, I’m sure businesses and their workers will have some thought. E.g. employees asking their company before making a purchase decision if they did want to do that; companies publishing approved device lists etc.

    Why is there an assumption Intel tablets will be significantly more expensive than WOA tablets?

  29. TheBigM Says:
    March 2nd, 2012 at 6:07 pm

    According to Paul Thurrott and Mary Jo Foley on their Windows Weekly podcast (38 mins), it does not mean that WOA will be completely unmanaged. Apparently you can impose policies via Exchange ActiveSync? But that the main issue is that it can’t log on to a windows server domain and that an ipad can’t either.
    In any case, we should receive clarification at CeBIT.

  30. David Wright Says:
    March 3rd, 2012 at 8:25 am

    I’ve just been listening to Mary-Jo on Windows Weekly and the story about not being able to control WOA isn’t 100% accurate.

    It cannot join a domain and access domain resources, but it will allow itself to be controlled by Exchange Active Sync.

  31. David Wright Says:
    March 3rd, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    Hmm, posted earlier, but message seems to have disappeared…

    I heard on Windows Weekly that, while the WOA devices cannot be added to a domain (and therefore cannot access domain resources, like directory shares, printers queues etc.), they will be controlled by Exchange Active Sync policies, so some limited control will be available (locking down the installation of apps, forcing unlock codes, remote wipe etc.).

  32. John d Says:
    March 5th, 2012 at 10:55 pm

    Buy the woa , remove it, put a modified Linux on it, join it to the network with RDP support. Job done.

  33. John d Says:
    March 5th, 2012 at 10:56 pm

    Sorry meant to say buy the woa device…


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