With Windows On ARM and Cloud, Microsoft Is Shaking Up Its Operating System (premium)

Windows has enjoyed a level of success unseen by most companies on the planet. With over 90% of desktops running the operating system from the Redmond-based company, it’s not often that they find a rival who is able to build, distribute, and support an operating system in the way that they have established.

Apple has carved out a good niche for its desktops, and some will likely argue that it has seen the same success Microsoft saw with Windows with its iPhone. Google has also done well with its mobile operating system, Android, and they have also set their eyes on the low-end PC market with their Chromebooks but has found only modest success in that segment.

Challengers to Microsoft’s operating system have come and gone and while every year is the year of Linux and MacOS has a large user-base, none of matched the decades-long success of Windows. But that is part of the problem, it has been so successful that it has grown and become overwhelming for low-end hardware or even modern environments.

With Windows being a product of a different generation, Microsoft has a couple options with the operating system. They can continue the status quo and build an operating system for yesterday and ride out that revenue until the sun fully sets on desktops PCs or they can try to mold the platform to fit into what we consider modern-computing environments (phones, tablets, consoles, IoT devices, ect).

We already know that Microsoft has chosen option two with their ‘One Windows’ platform and UWP applications but the changes in the Windows org are far from over to further accelerate this modernization. Thanks to the recently announced Windows on ARM (re)initiative and the discovery of Windows Cloud, the Windows we know is undergoing yet another massive transition as the company prepares for a future that does not look like its past.

Windows on Arm is bringing the Windows we have known, with x86 applications, to a new style of processors. Yes, this is not the company’s first attempt at doing this, we all know the story of Surface RT, but seeing as they have figured out how to fix the biggest weakness with their previous effort, Windows on ARM stands a much better chance of success this time around than in its previous iteration.

Further, with ARM PCs coming back into the spotlight, Microsoft has already said that they are willing to work with other vendors besides Qualcomm which means we will eventually see multiple vendors beyond Intel, AMD and Qualcomm, building desktop-class capable PCs running on the modern architecture. With more players in the field giving consumers new options for the PCs they are buying, this will help to drive down the cost of running Windows.

The other big change coming to Windows is the new Cloud SKU that the company hopes will allow them to modernize Windows; the new SKU, as Foley notes, will only allow you to run UWP applications. Again, this quite similar to Windows RT but one thing that does ap...

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