We've seen Microsoft shoot down speculation about an ARM-friendly version of Windows before, but it seems that the rumor mill is at it again. According to a report on Bloomberg, the company will use its CES keynote event to unveil some form of Windows running on an ARM processor. The software will reportedly be tailored for battery-powered devices, such as tablet computers and other handhelds.
Of course, versions of Windows for ARM processors already exist in the form of Windows CE for embedded systems and Windows Phone 7 for touch-enabled handhelds. Microsoft kind of painted itself into a corner with the name of the latter, though, so my initial thought is that they'd show a tablet-optimized version of their phone platform under a different name. But the Wall Street Journal is reporting that the release might not ship for another two years, which has sparked speculation that this may be a more full-featured version of the desktop OS rather than a port.
As you probably already know Microsoft has a new version of Windows coming out in 2012. Rumors say it'll run two interfaces: one supported by high-end notebook and desktop PCs and the other by less powerful systems doing more basic tasks. So maybe Windows 8 will support both x86 and ARM architectures and we'll see some early form of it at CES. Then again, Microsoft rarely shows pre-alpha platforms at this type of events so take that with a grain of salt.
Whatever the case, this is certainly not the vote of confidence Intel needs as it fiercely tries to gain a stronger foothold in the handheld segment through acquisitions and developing more power-efficient Atom chips.