CES: Microsoft Hacks Up Next OS As SOC

With the Pre-CES Keynote made by [Steve Ballmer], the announcement came that the next iteration of their operating system being available in SOC specific form.  This will lead to windows being able to run a very diverse hardware set in a much more efficient manner than it does right now.  Microsoft displayed 4 different versions of what the next generation prototypes are from 4 different manufacturers but there has been no work done yet on the GUI for SOC as [Ballmer] was very clear to mention that more than a couple of times.  Some photos of the prototypes can be found after the break!

The picture below is Intel’s iteration of System on a Chip.

These next three photos are from Snapdragon, Texas Instruments OMAP and Nvidia’s Tegra Platform all using an ARM processor:

76 thoughts on “CES: Microsoft Hacks Up Next OS As SOC

  1. I can imagine the DRM now – “Piracy detecting, disabling Windows SOC.”

    This could be really awesome, it has potential – I just don’t see it coming through.

    Also, whaddya mean “Next Three Photos”? I only see one!

  2. Hardware Minimum Requirements:

    3 switches named CTRL; ALT; DEL;
    1 LCD/OLED capable of displaying white letters on a blue background
    1 Steel case (that can handle frustated users)

  3. System on Chip…kind of reminds me of the first home computers (Atari, Commodore & IBM). Your BASIC came on chip. Then came the Amiga (and Atari ST) with the OS on chip and simple libraries (which you could build on depending on what you were running). It would be nice if Microsoft would open up their OS (if it comes on chip) and allow the end user to stack or reduce what they want their systems can do.

  4. Windows SOC will fail because the majority wont spend funds on porting their applications to other processor architectures. I bet even Microsoft wont port their full office suites.

  5. It states GUI-less at the moment, I assume it will stay that way?
    To me, I love windows, but only on a desktop, the core OS is tied to close to the GUI, and without the GUI, do you realy want a not so powerfull OS?

    For GUI-less, I use linux on all my headless, embeded stuff.

    Just my 3 cents

  6. Keep in mind that Windows embedded already runs just about every ATM, most coin counters and a TON of other devices that you never even knew had an OS. Embedded installs of windows are actually pretty rock solid (not a fanboy, just passing along some edumacation)

  7. Yay for windows being behind everyone else :P

    This sounds like hyped up WinCE. It won’t run anything from your pc without ports to itself specifically, but could run winCE stuff :P

  8. @Gnu

    Dev’s won’t need to port there programs if there written with .NET framework, Probably recompiled for the ARM cpu.

    And if you watched the event, Steve said, the builds are running the Windows 8 core, but the Windows 7 UI, so they don’t spoil any surprises.

  9. Except for Balmer and his bad management, Microsoft is Awesome.

    You learn one technolgy called .NET, you can develop applications/programs from Cloud to micro-controller. Not like any opensource where you spend more time for different compilers and tools and version and long learning curve.

    Use one IDE called Visual Studio and one technology called .NET you are done. Benefit for true developers. Will be difficult for Linux to dominate embedded or ARM platform any more. Hobbyist may opt for linux, bos they don’t want to upgrade from their hard learned linux. But industry won’t.

    I am convinced to scarp-out linux out of my arm board and bring in the windows. Enough of breaking the head with every new version of linux.

  10. I hope this is bound for Smartphones with the Windows Phone 7 OS as its GUI, as it will be a serious contender against Android/iOS4 if the apps become portable between the PC and the handhelds.

    No one could complain about MS’s piracy tactics in an arena where Apple wants DNA samples put on file for any user….

  11. Well Microsoft was and is not a proud owner of a cross-platform environment. Adding new arch support to the kernel and some userland is quite a big step. However we should not forget they are late to the game. Things that people need windows for, like gaming etc, will take a long long time to migrate (if they migrate at all) to this “new” arch and will probably not benefit from the change.

    I understand Microsoft wants the share that is now becoming Apple’s, that is, Joe Six pack. I’m not saying OSX doesn’t have instructed users, in fact most of students I see now a days use OSX. What I’m saying is that operating systems with limited functionality is the “new thing” and Microsoft wants to go that way. I don’t blame them when they own the worst security icon. In fact, the user itself is the main door for insecurity. Limiting user choices happens to increase security :)

    From what I can tell, Microsoft is stepping away from the traditional desktop as we know it. Apple already started the change quite some time ago with the introduction of cloud services and a App store model which very recently got integrated into OSX.

    As dedicated Linux user I’m quite comfortable with this new move which will leave the traditional desktops to be ruled by unencumbered, and hackable operating systems. I really wish I’ll be able to assist to a severe decline of Microsoft’s monopoly in the desktop.

  12. @Toast: I’m worried about the day when they ship processors with Windows embedded in them. That way, you don’t have to worry about running another OS, because it just won’t let you.

    @Gnu: I’m sure they will make use of .net ports Austin mentioned. Either that, or they may have some emulation/compatibility layer like OSX does with old PPC apps.

  13. its about time M$ stopped inflicting winmo and its crud on the planet, this would be a welcome step in the right direction if done right.

    Now they’ve seen > arm9 chips running stuff everywhere they want a piece of the action.

    We might finally get a reasonable, interactive kind of reinstall path when things get hosed instead of the closed hoop jumping bsp stuff.

  14. so how many cores and how many giga bytes of RAM will it need to be useful? They ported Windows XP to the little One Laptop Per Child XO device and it wasn’t pretty. I just can’t imagine Windows 7 on a 1GHz single core ARM Cortex-a8 device or even a Nvidia Tegra dual core a9 with 1GB of RAM or less.

    Prototypes are one thing, show some data regarding how useful this will be. Remember, we saw plenty of $1 million dollar prototype hydrogen powered cars and trucks through the Bush and Cheney years but where are they now? Prototypes are one thing, practical is another.

  15. Every vendor needs to stop and look where software is going. Everything is going to open source. One person asked me which company I’d put my money on for the next 20 years, I told them Google.

    M$ knows that it is running out of time and is trying to adapt to the next generation of hardware when it is very likely that they will not be able to keep up. They can’t even keep up with current hardware.

    Apple is not far behind M$ as far as going extinct. They will hold out a little longer because of OSX being built on UNIX and because of their popularity.

    They need more storage, even though cloud storage is becoming popular, a user needs to be able to move their system among many locations so more memory is needed. Like doug said they need to improve the hardware before it is released. More RAM, more storage, greater buffers. Multi-boot needs to be supported as well.

  16. @ YaBa, wow, that was so funny, 10 years ago

    @ Reggie hey, the 90’s called, they want their “M$” back

    I seem to remember way back in the day when this site wasnt populated by a bunch of hipsters trying to look cool, but by people who enjoyed all technology and wanted to push it all to its breaking points(or beyond)

    sad that the entirety of the responses to this article can be summed up with “Winblows Suxxors”

  17. It’s about time someone starts working on this, wish someone would work on making it economical for only pci-e ssd drives which would eliminate most of the problem all together.

  18. “Comon, Windows is bad enough on the computer. Imagine that trash on your smart phone?”

    5-8 years old WM pda able to do everything today’s iphone/android do, so yeah it will be amazing

  19. @therian

    Well, with the iPhone at least lacking features is called “progress” until the iPhone gains those features then it’s called “revolutionary”.

    I.e. We don’t need 3G, EDGE is the bestest! .. We have invented this great thing called 3G! it’s better than that smelly old EDGE crap!.. You can now download your files faster! It’s revolutionary!

    My old N95 had 3G, had no problems being used in Europe and Asia, two cameras, built in GPS etc.. I think it was released before/around the same time as the original iPhone?.. yet the iPhone lacked most of what the N95 had and was more expensive IIRC.

    Android is pretty good though.. Some really good devices are coming out and the prices are falling all the time. Nokia should just cave in and make some Android devices.

  20. Wow… sure is a lot of derp in the comments here. So tell me, aside from the need to look trendy what is the problem with Windows and .net? Bar the answers you’ve learned to parrot by Richard Stallman et al you most of you will not have an answer will you?

    You window haters are a disgusting skid mark on the Hacker Community (who are supposed to approach everything with an open mind)

  21. Maybe they’ll port over the VM the Xbox 360 uses to play Xbox 1 games (since the Xbox 1 used a modified x86 core)… A well implemented, well integrated VM could make most apps run transparently…

  22. @Ryan

    I’m not sure emulating x86 on ARM would yield great results to be honest.. I don’t think there’s a huge market for running X86 applications slowly on a different arch when X86 chips are damn cheap.

    ARM does have support for running Java bytecode in some cores though, maybe they could add some X86 support layer like the Longson (sp?).

  23. Windows on a chip?
    As long as MS marketing will help pushing hardware prices low and they won’t keep people from reflashing better operating systems that’s fine for me, but the day I’ll be forced to use Windows on anything closely related to the embedded world, critical systems in particular, is the day I’d rather go flipping hamburgers.

  24. Porting to a SoC is no major thing if they already have a port to allow Windows on ARM. The majority of the work would be providing the tools to config and build to the required platform.

    Also worth noting that the average SoC contains a couple of processors and DSPs and/or HW IP blocks. For example the TV/STB SoCs I design contain a main application processor ( running linux ) and two other platform processors ( running RTOS like uCos, Nucleus+ etc ). So Windows would only be doing application level software on the SoC, the other platform level software interfacing with the SoC specific HW would definitely not be running Windows.

    MIPS ( 74k, 24k ) is also pretty in the SoC world along with ARM so you have to wonder if MS will also do a MIPS port?

    ‘flush flush

    Mr T.

  25. I’m amazed that ARM chips now have sufficient power to run a full desktop GUI. At last, they’ve caught up with the rest of the world.

    One can only hope that eventually they might be able to have anti-aliased fonts and vector-based drawing.

  26. lol @ the uber-hackers not liking our disdain for M$’s unswerving desire for market share and $$ bills.

    I’ll weloome the software with an open-mind when it arrives, until then I’ll speculate over how its going to perform based on my previous experiences with the company and their OS’s, bloat, bloat, bloat, restrictive practices and more bloat but thanks for the kinect.

  27. Ok. I know alot of people are going to burn me an effigy for saying this, but the fact that M$ wants to go with SOC may be a good thing.

    Here’s why!

    Hard drives as we know it are becoming obsolete. Hell, the towers and servers we got are becoming obsolete.

    Imagine a world where you never hear about hard disk drive failure ever again?

    If even M$ thinks that going embedded is the way to go for the average joe, then manufacturers will go in that direction. And somewhere along the way there will be some manufacturers who will make SOC that can be reflashed to accept the OS that the user wants.

    It’s all about voting with your money folks. Don’t forget that.


  28. @Neckbeard

    Perhaps hard to imagine, but there are tons of legitimate reasons to aggressively steer clear of MS products apart from the companies moral conduct, or lack thereof. Having maintained a mostly windows based network is a common cause. Having to work around the wall of closed protocols and secretive methodology when trying to get stuff to work is another. Or perhaps realizing that added security means crippled functionality in their dictionary is one !.

    Their lack of taste is another matter altogether of course.

    I think that you are refusing to see it is not such a very weird thing to dislike MS for there are many good positions to do this from. The closed mind and “disgrace to the hacker community (wtf?)) here is the one that refuses to accept that this is true and subsequently groups all of the nay-sayers together into a stereotype.

  29. @Th3 W01F

    >>M$ wants to go with SOC may be a good thing.

    SoC means “System on a chip”.. Which is like “A real computer in microcontroller-style packaging”.
    The article here isn’t great. This is basically Microsoft showing off Windows for ARM.

    >> Hard drives

    Flash memory still isn’t up the densities that we need for hard drives to just disappear.. You don’t have to have a SoC based machine to run from flash though.

    >>Imagine a world where you
    >>never hear about hard disk
    >>drive failure ever again?

    Instead of hard disk failure we’ll hear more and more about flash failure.

  30. i want a windows desktop platform ported to ARM. why? so i can get a ARM laptop that has real battery life! nobody is making them because windows cant run on them and no, cheap-o-netbooks dont count. i use linux and it bugs the hell out of me that laptops are forever stuck on x86… until now?

  31. @Gravis
    There are quite some out there already. My preferred one is

    Windows is not the usual choice for hackers. As you know there are 100% hackable operating systems out there. This website is a hacker meeting point, so make your own calculations :)

    You are totally right on that, emulating x86 on ARM is extremely inefficient. Even worse is the contrary, emulating ARM on x86. I need a 3Ghz x86_64 CPU to emulate something close to a 1Ghz ARMv5.

  32. @Gnu: You just failed, they demoed the full Office 2010 suite running on an ARM system right there.

    @MrX: Microsoft already had a kernel that was made for multiple architectures. You should know that NT4 ran on x86, MIPS, RISC (PA-RISC?) and Alpha, Windows 2000 still ran on x86 and Alpha, Windows 2003 ran on x86 and Itanium as does Server 2008. The NT-Kernel *is* portable.

  33. Sorry for not posting sooner, I attended the Microsoft Keynote and saw all three ARM computers launching Windows applications such as PowerPoint and Word. As well, I would like to apologize for not uploading the other 2 photos earlier as internet as CES is less than desirable. Any further questions about anything CES email me and I will try my hardest to find the answers for you!

  34. @Austin
    I do embedded development on Windows CE with .NET compact framework. I assure you, unless they port the full framework, that you will have to do numerous P/Invoke calls to coredll.dll to get something usable.

  35. I personally think its a good thing. I wouldnt mind a computer in every room that can run basic things just fine, or an uber-thin laptop that can run Office faster than many, many desktops (did you watch the damn video you guys?)

    The AMD Fusion looks like it kicks the hell out of the new Sandybridge Laptop chips need to be usable and last long and a 9-hour laptop that can pack DX11 for under $500, i’d buy (and will, I’m sorry)
    nVidia’s ARM chip looks massively fast, and has to be cheap since its targeted twards portable gaming and mobile devices, which is good.

    And I agree with above. This will make ARM cheaper and more usable for your mom or grandma or co-worker who likes shiny things just as much as we like chips and circuit boards.

  36. @Gnu this is the FULL Windows OS there porting, there is no reason it wouldn’t have the full .NET framework, which is probably required for the new version of Office, they have already ported over.

    Anyone else notice the only ARM Soc that was running aero was the Nvidia one?

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