Windows 8 x86 Apps Won't Run on ARM Devices

Written by John Ponio    Friday, 16 September 2011 14:52

Microsoft Logo

When Windows 8 was first announced, we were told that it would run on both ARM SoC (Systems on a Chip) and x86 processors (such as Intel processors). While that's still true, news coming out today says that x86 apps (pretty much any x86 program) will not be compatible with ARM processors. This comes as a surprise to many people because it will create a rift in the Windows App Market, where probably most will be x86 apps and a few will be ARM apps. Obviously, ARM devices won't be as popular as x86 devices, because most laptops and desktops are x86-based. This means that developers will prefer writing their programs for x86-based systems, meaning ARM won't have as big of an app market. Steven Sinofsky said:

"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 system on a chip. You know, will battery life be as good, for example? Well, 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. So, we have to be careful that we don't remove the value proposition for those applications. On the other hand, people would say, 'Oh, but you have to let them run because then there's that whole ecosystem.' And then if we do let them run, we just brought the perceived negatives of some of the ecosystem. So, people say, great, now it's easy to port viruses and malware and we'll port those."

Their reasoning makes sense, but I'm wondering how much it will affect which OS tablet makers choose to use. Why would you make a tablet for Windows 8 with an ARM chip if your app market is going to be very small, when you can make an Android tablet and have all of those apps available? You can read more about this here.