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Microsoft shows off ARM-based Windows 8 tablets

Microsoft shows off ARM-based Windows 8 tablets


During its Windows 8 Consumer Preview event at Mobile World Congress, Microsoft showed the hardware running on a host of reference machines based on both Intel x86 and ARM processors.

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Microsoft is using its Windows 8 Consumer Preview event to show off some examples of hardware that'll come fresh out of the box with the new OS when it ships later this year. The company has demonstrated both ARM and Intel x86 flavors of Windows 8 running on reference machines. While the traditional Intel-based version is somewhat of a known quantity thanks to the developer preview, we haven't been able to see much of the ARM variety for ourselves — especially to what extent it'll be able to replicate the traditional desktop experience. Microsoft wasn't showing much new at first, with Julie Larson-Green starting out by using the Metro interface on the same Samsung preview slate we saw at BUILD last year, and Antoine Leblond demonstrating the software on a Lenovo U300s ultrabook. Later on, though, we heard that Intel is adding the Ivy Bridge processor and a touchscreen to the next generation ultrabook specification, meaning that laptop users will be able to get the full Metro experience as well.

As for ARM, Steven Sinofsky was clear that Microsoft is going for a "no compromise" experience, with Mike Angiulo on hand to show off the OS running on a Nvidia Tegra 3-powered tablet. It's not the first time we've seen Windows 8 on Nvidia hardware, but also on hand were "next generation" devices from Texas Instruments and Qualcomm along with an Intel Clover Trail tablet. These represent the four systems-on-a-chip that Microsoft will head to market with, though all the models displayed were still at the demo stage. Anguilo said that the Windows 8 code was shared between Intel and ARM "all the way" to Internet Explorer, which doesn't necessarily sound all that far to us, but we'll have to wait and see to find out more. There shouldn't be much in the way of cross-compatibility issues, at least, with the Windows Store automatically downloading the correct x86 or ARM code for you. Elsewhere, we saw a video running in Internet Explorer through HTML5, and new class drivers for peripherals. So far, so mobile — we're still yet to see how exactly how "complete" Windows 8 will be on ARM hardware.