Is Microsoft moving Windows to ARM?

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Microsoft licences ARM architecture for the first time, in what could be a significant move for Windows

Microsoft has licensed the ARM architecture for the first time, in a move that could lead to Windows support for ARM processors.

Although Microsoft has offered mobile and embedded operating systems based on ARM processors in the past, this is the first time the company's had full access to the blueprint for the ARM instruction set. Only two other companies have an ARM architecture licence - Qualcomm and Marvell - both of which produce chips.

A spokesperson for Microsoft declined to elaborate on the company's plans, although there has been persistent speculation that the software giant may transition Windows to ARM processors, which are increasingly popular in low-powered netbook and tablet devices.

In a press statement announcing the deal, Microsoft's general manager KD Hallam states: “ARM is an important partner for Microsoft and we deliver multiple operating systems on the company’s architecture, most notably Windows Embedded and Windows Phone."

“With closer access to the ARM technology we will be able to enhance our research and development activities for ARM-based products."

ARM claims the deal is highly significant, but said it couldn't comment on Microsoft's plans for the architecture. "ARM's business model is about licensing cores," Ian Drew, ARM's executive vice president of marketing told PC Pro. "The is the first time Microsoft has taken an architectural licence from us."

"We can't speculate on what Microsoft is going to do," he added, claiming the terms of the deal are confidential.

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