While ARM-based processors have traditionally been used in small devices such as mobile phones, the company behind these chips has made no secret of its intentions to enter the burgeoning netbook segment. They’ve already announced a partnership with Canonical to bring the full Ubuntu desktop OS to their ARMv7 processor architecture and rumors have swirled that OLPC could use an ARM-based solution in their next generation XO-2. Problem is, of course, that Windows operating systems don’t officially run on ARM chips.
Since Microsoft owns about 90 percent of the netbook market and 76 percent of the entire market according to recent figures, this gives them little chance of ever grabbing a sizeable portion of the segment. However, during a recent analyst conference call, ARM’s CEO seemed all too happy to talk about the possibility of Windows supporting ARM processors. He wouldn’t offer any concrete information but said that that “if there was Windows support for the ARM processor today clearly it would be a very different marketplace,” adding that “perhaps there will be support in the future but that's really for Microsoft to comment.”
Whether he was offering a hint of things to come or just letting his wishful thinking out into the open is up for debate. However, there have been rumors for a while now that Microsoft engineers in Redmond have been demonstrating Windows XP systems running on chips with ARM processing cores inside.