Windows 8 on ARM will have legacy problems

Microsoft might have a few problems getting its Windows 8 software to run on ARM processors, warned a software analyst.

Patrick Moorhead wrote in Forbes that while he was impressed with Windows 8 there has been no developer preview for ARM SOCs and there is probably a good reason for it.

Moorhead said that Microsoft has gone to great pains to develop a new application development environment where developers can write new Metro Windows 8-based applications, using a new and slick Visual Studio developer app. But none of the legacy apps will work.

This is a problem because Windows software can be expensive and because it lasts a jolly long time, buyers would not be happy throwing out their old software library.

Microsoft will find itself in the unpleasant situation of having to test  each application, or driver  twice, once for the desktop and the other for ARM. For those who remember how much difficulty it had with drivers in Vista this could be a major nightmare for the Vole, he said.

This should be the same problem that Apple had with its tablet and MacOS versions but Moorhead said that Microsoft has larger worries in selling that idea to the great unwashed.

Punters expect any system device called “Windows” to be able to use their mouse, keyboard, printer, scanner, joystick, digital camera and every other peripheral they used on their other Windows machines, he said.

The only way for Microsoft to avoid this problem is not to call its Windows on ARM operating system Windows. It will call it Windows and people will expect compatibility, Moorhead said.