One of the many big changes coming to Microsoft Windows 8 will be the return of support for non-x86 architecture. When it comes to running the OS on tablets, the new flexibility will be a boon, as x86 chips continue to struggle with power issues. To take advantage of components already honed for mobile performance, Microsoft will be releasing a Windows On ARM version of its next operating system. News of that version has raised plenty of questions, including how it will handle backwards compatibility. Today Microsoft went into some detail about its plans for Windows 8 and WOA, clarifying just how things will work.
From the sound of things, WOA will offer much of the same functionality as Windows 8 on an x86 PC, at least when it comes to new software. Developers can create new apps that will be supported on both versions of the platform, and you’ll see the use of the same Metro interface. The bad news, though, is that WOA systems won’t see support for existing x86 code. It was a bit of a long shot, but in theory an emulator-based system could have been deployed. Ultimately, Microsoft decided that any such system would compromise power consumption and performance targets to an unacceptable degree.
One very cool bit of information to come out of Microsoft’s lengthy discussion of the porting-to-ARM process is how it’s managed to get the platform running on older Windows Mobile hardware. Don’t ever expect to see this ROM leak, but as you can see in the above image, apparently of an ASUS Galaxy 7 P835, WOA fits well within even the phone’s measly 288MB of RAM.