Microsoft has announced that the next version of Windows will support System on a Chip (SoC) architectures from ARM-based systems designed by partners Nvidia, Qualcomm, and Texas Instruments. Microsoft's goal is of course to further increase the range of hardware it supports with Windows.
The company essentially confirmed rumors that it was working on an ARM-friendly Windows OS. In order to emphasize that the x86 architecture was not being replaced, however, Microsoft also confirmed that Intel and AMD were working on low-power SoC designs that fully support Windows, including support for native x86 applications.
Although Microsoft did not show off anything with AMD hardware, the company did demonstrate the next version of Windows running on new SoC platforms from Intel on x86 architecture and from Nvidia, Qualcomm, and Texas Instruments on ARM architecture. The technology demonstration included Windows client support of hardware-accelerated graphics and media playback, hardware-accelerated Web browsing with Internet Explorer, USB device support, printing, as well as Microsoft Office running natively on ARM.
It's important to note that Microsoft still did not explicitly say "Windows 8" during its presentation at CES 2011. Nevertheless, it did show a build number for a second that started with 6.2, which is the kernel version for Windows 7's successor.
"With today's announcement, we're showing the flexibility and resiliency of Windows through the power of software and a commitment to world-class engineering," Steven Sinofsky, president of the Windows and Windows Live Division at Microsoft, said in a statement. "We continue to evolve Windows to deliver the functionality customers demand across the widest variety of hardware platforms and form factors."