Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 23rd Dec 2010 19:19 UTC
Windows The rumours about Windows possibly being ported to ARM has left a lot of people bewildered; why would you port Windows NT when Windows CE 6.0 is a perfectly capable operating system? Putting all the pieces together, it's actually quite clear why you would want Windows NT on ARM: servers.
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galvanash
Member since:
2006-01-25

Counter-point... One of the largest growth sectors in the server hardware market is large data centers for cloud computing. What you want in such data centers is small, cheap, low power (critical for operational costs) servers that generally do one of two things:

1. Run custom written distributed database/file storage software.
2. Run custom written web servers/caching proxies that are purpose built for cloud applications.

Linux practically owns this market as it is now, and ARM servers are more than likely going to be very attractive assuming they offer advantages for power use/thermals/size/etc. Since Linux is already the defacto standard, ARM has no real obstacles in its way to enter that market, so it is likely to at least get its foot in the door. Microsoft would like a piece of it. Simple really, I frankly don't see how they could ignore it.

Porting Windows (in one form or another, I'm not claiming it will be exactly the same as on x86, but CE is simply too striped down for this type of use) to ARM would in effect give them somewhat equal footing once the hardware becomes attractive enough that customers start buying it. True there is something of a challenge in porting the software required for these types of deployments, but it isn't inconceivable that Microsoft could offer some advantages here that might sway some customers (i.e. existing Microsoft shops wanting to build purpose built cloud services).

Point is without any presence on ARM - if ARM servers take off Microsoft is completely locked out of a potentially huge growth market. Do you really think they are willing to let that happen?

Reply Parent Score: 5

lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

Point is without any presence on ARM - if ARM servers take off Microsoft is completely locked out of a potentially huge growth market. Do you really think they are willing to let that happen?


This was my take on it as well. New power-efficient ARM chips that could be used in a desktop or server role are on the horizon, and they will be available to market in a couple of years. Some OEMs are sure to take advantage of such chips and make a server which achieves a significantly better power-per-performance metric than x86 or x86_64 can, perhaps it will be more than an order of magnitude better.

Currently, the only viable server OS for such a machine would be Linux.

IMO, Microsoft cannot tolerate that. If Microsoft want to stay in the server business in a couple of years time when these machines come to market, Microsoft will HAVE to have a Windows server on ARM product ready to roll. If they are even a little tardy, Linux will take over this entire market segment.

Reply Parent Score: 3