Microsoft to take on iPad with British chips

Microsoft is expected to make its long-awaited entry into the tablet market on Monday, with Windows due to make the leap to the same British-designed microchips that power most of the world’s smartphones and the iPad.

But ARM, the Cambridge-based firm behind the silicon, says not even it knows for what will be unveiled, with the event surrounded by unusually strict secrecy for Microsoft.
Warren East, ARM’s chief executive told The Telegraph he hadn’t been told what to expect from the big reveal, which will take place in Los Angeles.
“We’ve heard about this event on Monday but we don’t know anything more about it,” he said.
“It’s a Microsoft product and they’re responsible for development and marketing. We haven’t been involved.”
Microsoft announced a new ARM-compatible version of Windows 8, dubbed Windows RT, at the Consumer Electronics Show last year. It represents a shift from x86 processor architecture and a weakening of Microsoft historic alliance with Intel, which makes most of the microchips in desktop and laptop computers.
The move therefore underscores Microsoft’s desire to break the iPad’s stranglehold on the tablet market, which is encroaching on its corporate IT stronghold. ARM architecture has come to dominate mobile computing because it is designed to consume as little power as possible, extending battery life.
“We obviously welcome Microsoft moving to ARM architecture,” said Mr East.
“Windows will be an exciting new market for us.”
Both the ARM and x86 versions of Windows 8 have been designed with Microsoft’s touchscreen-friendly “Metro” user interface, adapted from its smartphone operating system Windows Mobile 7. It does away with the familiar start button and presents information from apps in constantly-updated “tiles” on the home screen.
Some reports ahead of Monday’s announcement have suggested Microsoft will introduce an own-brand tablet before licensing the software to third parties manufacturers such as HP, in an echo of the way Google makes its own “Nexus” Android smartphones.
Tim Anderson, a journalist and expert on Windows, said such a move would make sense.
“Microsoft wants to make a splash with Windows RT, the ARM version, and there is evidence that it is having difficulty communicating its benefits or convincing its [manufacturing] partners to get fully behind it,”he wrote.
He added that Windows 8 on x86 appeared to be too expensive and too hard to use to be an iPad-beater.
“Windows RT is critical to Microsoft and if it has to make its own hardware in order to market it properly, then it should do so,” Mr Anderson wrote.


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