When it comes to Windows 8 there are plenty of new features to get excited about.
Despite many features to the desktop environment, improvements on speed, and stability it seems that two new features are getting most of the attention these days : the new Metro Interface replacing the Start Menu and Windows 8 ARM processor support.
With ARM support, Windows will now be able to tackle the ultra-mobile market in ways that it only dreamed about in the past. Up until now (with the exception of NT4 which ran on a few other architectures, actually), Windows has pretty much been stuck as an x86-only Operating System.
The biggest and most obvious reason for the switch to ARM support has to do with tablets. While x86 tablets do exist, they are bulkier, louder, and consume more power than their often cheaper, quieter ARM cousins. Microsoft understands a cash cow when they see it and weren’t willing to drop the ball to Google and Apple. Outside of tablets though, ARM has potential in ultra-mobile laptops as well or at least analysts seem to think so.
There is one bring problem with the ARM version of Windows 8, it seems behind on development when compared to the x86 version. Now it seems that sources are reporting that notebooks running Windows 8 on an ARM processor aren’t expected to hit the market until June 2013.
This source doesn’t say anything about tablets and so it makes you wonder. If they DO launch the ARM/tablet version in late-2012 (alongside the x86 version), why wait until mid-2013 to bring it to notebooks? This leaves me to think that either the tablet version is behind too and Microsoft just doesn’t want that cat out of the bag yet, or perhaps Microsoft has made a deal with Intel/AMD to keep x86 exclusive for a while longer. Only Microsoft really knows the reason for sure.
The source further claims that due to significant challenges, such as vendor reluctance and software support, it will likely be 2015 or later until ARM presents a significant market-share challenge to x86-based laptops.