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The Great Windows 8 Apps Debate

Microsoft has been relatively forthcoming about Windows 8. It even gave thousands of developers Samsung tablets loaded with the latest test release of the OS.

One area where details are scant concerns the ARM version. This is the hardware platform that promises to drive smaller form factors for Windows 8 devices, with power-miserly battery lives. Microsoft simply will not say to what extent these machines based on non-Intel-compatible chips will run older software. If the past is any indication, I'd say not very well.

Now that test code is out, and we have many Microsoft speeches to parse, we are getting a sense of this reality. It appears that older style, or what Microsoft calls "desktop apps" will indeed run, as long as they are recompiled.

Now 'recompiled' conjures visions of putting your code through some sort of sausage maker to shoot out hamburger on the other side. But as any old programming salt will tell you, it ain't that simple.

My guess? Apps with big market potential will indeed go through the recompiling, porting and semi-rewriting process. Most won't.

Is this a big deal? Nah. I view the ARM machines as more like an iPad, which doesn't run native Mac apps and was never designed to. That is the whole point. It is a new class of machine with a new class of software.

Do you like the Windows 8 ARM strategy, or are you too confused to decide? Help me out on this one at

Posted by Doug Barney on 09/23/2011 at 1:18 PM


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