Tonight was the big CES 2011 keynote by Microsoft head honcho Steve Ballmer, and Windows on ARM took center stage. Those of you hoping to see some in-depth ARM action — well, you’ll have to wait until Microsoft and its partners have had a bit more time to flesh things out.
If the interface looks familiar to you, that’s because at this point we’re looking at a new version of Windows beneath the current Windows 7 UI. No new Windows features are on display at this point, but Internet Explorer 9, and Office for ARM were the only apps on display — as well as a recompiled Epson print driver which made a brief background appearance to spit out a short Word document. The demo on Nvidia’s Tegra 2 hardware was particularly impressive, playing back the Iron Man 2 trailer in full HD without so much as a hiccup and running IE9 HTML5 demos with aplomb.
According to Ballmer, the move to embrace ARM is all about meeting customer expectations. Users increasingly expect the same experience on all their devices — from desktop to laptop to smartphone. Windows, he said, can provide that experience, and Microsoft will continue working not only with ARM partners like Nvidia, Qualcomm, and Texas Instruments, but also x86 kingpins Intel and AMD to achieve their goal.