It is speculated that the developer version of Windows 8 for ARM devices may be released as early as February. This information comes from developers who have had ample time with the OS and its multitude of features, who also commented that the build is now quite stable. When this version of Windows 8 was shown to the world last October, it received a lot of criticism due to frequent incompatibility issues and crashes. While the February release date hasn’t been confirmed by Microsoft, hardware suppliers of the company are quite sure that the tentative date will be right around that time.
The biggest advantage of ARM devices is the cost. At CES 2012, the best device running Windows 8 was an ARM prototype and also cost a couple hundred dollars less than the conventional x86 hardware usually used to run Windows devices. The introduction of Ultrabooks in the market is spreading the notion that laptops are going to get slimmer, more powerful and consume less power in the near future. Throw into the mix the ARM architecture and the market is now looking at next generation devices which are not only extremely powerful and efficient, but also extremely cheap to boot.
Since the developer version for Windows 8 for x86 architecture was released much earlier, experts believe that the ARM variant will take time to reach RC status even after the final build is made public. However, that might not be the case according to sources in Microsoft. This again has not been confirmed by Microsoft, but it seems quite logical to provide support for both architectures at the same time; late though it may be for the ARM version.
Windows 8 is said to be the largest upgrade Microsoft has made to its OS since the release of Windows 3.0 decades ago. The major change this time around is that Windows 8 will be compatible with both Intel and AMD chips as well as ARM chips, which happen to be the most popular ones in the mobile market at the moment. Currently, ARM chips are used by market heavyweights like NVIDIA, Texas Instruments and Qualcomm who between them run almost all smart phones and tablets available currently. More importantly, Windows 8 runs perfectly on devices from two of these three manufacturers as was showcased at the CES (Qualcomm and NVIDIA, specifically).
Despite the positive signs, there are some questions about ARM compatibility. One of the biggest is that of Microsoft Office, which hasn’t been seen running on Windows 8. Whether the traditional Windows apps will continue to run smoothly on ARM architecture is yet to be seen.