The last speaker here at Asia D was none other than Nvidia's outspoken CEO Jen-Hsun Huang. Of course, we couldn't resist asking Jen-Hsun about Windows 8 on ARM, with a particular focus on legacy apps concerns and consumer confusion surrounding compatibility. While he didn't share any of Microsoft's future plans, he did say "It's really important -- and my sense is that Microsoft will do this -- not to position these [Windows on ARM devices] as PCs. That's number one. From a finesse perspective, and I cannot speak on their [Microsoft's] behalf, I would come out with tablets first. It helps establish that this not a PC." We'll take that as an admission that we won't be seeing Windows 8 laptops or netbooks running on Nvidia's Tegra at first (though Huang has big plans for those) and that the focus will be on tablets out of the gate. That sounds like a decent marketing plan, one which would certainly help address the serious concern we have had about explaining lack of legacy program support on ARM to regular consumers.
Speaking of legacy app compatibility, Huang seemed less concerned with the breadth of x86 Windows programs and more with Office. "What people really want is Office to run on Windows on ARM. It's the killer app. On PCs everything else is on the web or video games," he said. "I don’t believe there’s any reason to make Office 95 run on a Windows on ARM tablet[…] It would be wonderful if a new version of Office runs on ARM. It would be a requirement for me to be attracted to that device." We certainly agree, which is why it has been one of our major questions about Windows 8 in the last couple of months. Given Huang's words and our own reporting at Microsoft’s BUILD we’d venture to guess that’s exactly what Microsoft’s working on, the question is what will it look like and when will they finally decide to tell the world so we can stop asking the question.