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Microsoft’s next step in SoC level slot management

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Update: Microsoft postpones IDP for 2 weeks to re-consult with chip players [June 2, 2011]

Microsoft has postponed its Integrated Development Program (IDP) for Windows 8 as the plan created significant dissatisfaction within the upstream supply chain. Microsoft is set to re-consult with the five major chip players about IDP, while Microsoft OEM vice president Steven Guggenheimer also paid visits to executives of Acer and Asustek Computer on June 1, to communicate and is set to re-release details of IDP after two weeks, according to sources from notebook players.

Sources from chip players pointed out that Microsoft’s actions have their reasons, but the way the company unfolded the plan to its partners could make its partners feel unpleasant since players that do not participate believe they will lose the opportunity to launch Windows 8-based products first hand, which could seriously affect their product lineup in the future.

The chip players also noted that the development of ARM-based Windows 8 has difficulties and if Microsoft adopts an open development program as in the past, the company may not have enough manpower to support and answer all the problems and questions chip and system players have.

Following Microsoft’s CES 2011 move to the SoC level slot management of the market, here is the next step in that direction:

Taiwan PC vendors seeking participation in developing Windows 8 [May 25, 2011] (emphasis is mine)

Microsoft has talked with Nvidia, Qualcomm, Texas Instruments (TI), Intel and AMD for their participation in its Integrated Development Program specifically for developing Windows 8 for use in tablet PCs and has asked each IC vendor to invite two PC vendors for joint development and testing, according to industry sources in Taiwan. Taiwan-based PC vendors who have been in long-term partnerships with Microsoft have complained to the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) because they were not invited to participate, and hope for the government’s negotiation with Microsoft, the sources added.

For each of the five IC vendors, Microsoft seems to have desirable PC vendors such as Samsung Electronics, Hewlett-Packard (HP) and Dell, the sources indicated.

The IC vendors are actually unwilling to invite only two PC vendors because they each have many PC clients and participation of more PC vendors is commercially favorable for them. Thus, the IC vendors have urged Microsoft to invite more PC vendors, but Microsoft has so far insisted on the quota of two for the initial period, the sources said.

Wu Ming-ji, director general of the Department of Industrial Technology under MOEA, indicated the department has heard about Microsoft’s move from Taiwan-based PC vendors although Microsoft has not confirmed it.

In view of the business performance and global reputation of Taiwan-based vendors Acer, Asustek and HTC, the Taiwan government recommends that Microsoft invite them to co-develop Windows 8 in the first round because this would be in Microsoft’s best interest, Wu emphasized.

However, Wu did not indicated whether the government will negotiate with Microsoft or make any arrangement.

What happened at CES 2011 has been described in my CES 2011 presence with Microsoft moving to SoC & screen level slot management that is not understood by analysts/observers at all [Jan 7, 2011] report.

Since that report is enormously large I will include here all the relevant excerpts regarding the SoC level of slot management:

Microsoft’s CES 2011 presence is summarized in two detailed parts below, one for the System on a Chip (SoC) support announcement and the other based on the Steve Ballmer’s CES 2011 opening keynote. The first one has, however, been a source of great confusion among the company watchers, analysts and observers, therefore before we start the detailed overview in these two parts we should look into that situation first.

While the company has clearly stated that Microsoft Announces Support of System on a Chip Architectures From Intel, AMD, and ARM for Next Version of Windows [Jan 5] even such an ardent Microsoft watcher as Mary-Jo Foles interpreted this as a simple message that CES: Microsoft shows off Windows 8 on ARM [Jan 5]. No wonder that Computerworld has written an article that an Analyst ‘baffled’ by Microsoft talk of Windows 8 on ARM [Jan 6]:

In an accompanying analysis article IDG News Services has even up the ante by declaring that Microsoft must get ISVs onto ARM bandwagon, Microsoft has a lot of work to do moving Windows to ARM chips [Jan 6]:

This is all absolutely wrong. The truth is that Microsoft made a strategic decision of moving its core slot management approach to the key System on a Chip (SoC) vendors. It is a decision of enormous significance because up to now the company was managing the slots created by the PC vendors. That is Microsoft had been trying to ensure all along that the client PCs shipped to the market, the “slots” in terms of Microsoft internal way of thinking:

  1. Are best when they are running Microsoft system software.
  2. Have that software already installed when the devices are out of the factory floor (with OEM versions)

From now on Microsoft will do a kind of similar thing on the SoC level (and on the screen level as well), this is my conclusion as I carefully compiled all the available information in the two parts available below. This became absolutely obvious to me as I compared the below details with the radically new “slot situation” represented in my previous post Changing purchasing attitudes for consumer computing are leading to a new ICT paradigm [Jan 5].

Look for example how PC vendors were underrepresented in the keynote compared to what had been before (see my earlier posts: Windows slates in the coming months? Not much seen yet [July 13 – Oct 6, 2010] and Windows 7 tablets/slates with Oak Trail Atom SoC in December [Nov 1 – 24, 2010]) as well as how on the electronics industry level things had been changed recently (see my earlier posts: Marvell ARMADA beats Qualcomm Snapdragon, NVIDIA Tegra and Samsung/Apple Hummingbird in the SoC market [again] [Sept 23 –Nov 4, 2010,] and Intel’s industry position and prospects for years ahead [Dec 9, 2010]).

– Mary-Jo Foley started to discover some, but only some real motives in her latest With Windows coming to ARM, what happens to Windows Embedded Compact? [Jan 7]. There she mused about the really significant fact of the cancellation of Microsoft OEM chief’s planned appearance at the J.P. Morgan Tech Forum at CES (see the final agenda where Microsoft is missing) which was much anticipated by the investor community.
– Although for me that sign is important as well, the fact that HTML5 related announcements (as was anticipated in my previous post of Windows 7 slates with a personal cloud based layered interface for touch-first HTML5 applications on the CES 2011 [Dec 14, 2010] post) were postponed has even much bigger significance. Whatever will come regarding that upto the MIX 2011 of April 12-14 will be equally important to clarify the rest of the new strategic Microsoft picture. Particularly I am expecting that Silverlight technologies will nicely join the already known IE9/HTML5 push in a new platform technology setup.

Part I. The SoC support announcement

Microsoft Announces Support of System on a Chip Architectures From Intel, AMD, and ARM for Next Version of Windows [Jan 5], (emphasis is mine):

Microsoft Corp. today announced at 2011 International CES that the next version of Windows will support System on a Chip (SoC) architectures, including ARM-based systems from partners NVIDIA Corp. [Tegra platform], Qualcomm Inc. [Snapdragon platform] and Texas Instruments Inc [OMAP platform]. On the x86 architecture, Intel Corporation and AMD continue their work on low-power SoC designs that fully support Windows, including support for native x86 applications. SoC architectures will fuel significant innovation across the hardware spectrum when coupled with the depth and breadth of the Windows platform.

At today’s announcement, Microsoft demonstrated the next version of Windows running on new SoC platforms from Intel running on x86 architecture and from NVIDIA, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments on ARM architecture. The technology demonstration included Windows client support across a range of scenarios, such as hardware-accelerated graphics and media playback, hardware-accelerated Web browsing with the latest Microsoft Internet Explorer, USB device support, printing and other features customers have come to expect from their computing experience. Microsoft Office running natively on ARM was also shown as a demonstration of the potential of Windows platform capabilities on ARM architecture.

Next version of Windows on Qualcomm Snapdragon ARM demo at CES 2011 Ballmer keynote -- Jan 5, 2011

SoC architectures consolidate the major components of a computing device onto a single package of silicon. This consolidation enables smaller, thinner devices while reducing the amount of power required for the device, increasing battery life and making possible always-on and always-connected functionality. With support of SoC in the next version of the Windows client, Microsoft is enabling industry partners to design and deliver the widest range of hardware ever.

Next Version of Windows Will Run on System on a Chip (SoC) Architectures from Intel, AMD and ARM [Jan 5]
(emphasis is mine) Q&A: In a technology preview at CES, Microsoft demonstrates Windows running on new SoC x86 and ARM-based systems.

The Microsoft News Center team talked with Steven Sinofsky, president of the Windows and Windows Live Division, in advance of the announcement.

Microsoft News Center: Can you give us an overview of what led you to make this announcement today and what the specific news is?

Sinofsky: We are making this announcement now to allow greater collaboration across our expanded partner ecosystem so we can bring to market the widest possible set of PCs and devices, from tablets on up, with the next generation of Windows. We’re at a point in engineering the next release of Windows where we are demonstrating our progress and bringing together an even broader set of partners required to deliver solutions to customers.

We’ve reached a point in technology where everyone really does want everything from their computing experience — the power and breadth of software for today’s laptop, the long battery life and always-on promise of a mobile phone, and the possibilities from a new generation of tablets. Bringing these capabilities together to meet customer demand requires innovation in hardware as well as a flexible, evolving software platform to bring it to life.

Microsoft News Center: Tell us about your partners on ARM-based systems. How were they selected and what do they bring to the table?

Sinofsky: It takes experienced partners to help deliver Windows to a whole new set of devices and we’re pleased NVIDIA, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments have joined us in this technology demonstration. We look forward to even more robust collaboration between silicon partners and a broader set of partners as we work together to bring new PCs and devices – from tablets on up – to market with the next version of Windows.

Microsoft News Center: You’ve talked about these new systems being ready for the next version of Windows. What does this mean for future hardware innovation on Windows 7?

Sinofsky: Windows 7 continues to be extraordinarily well-received by customers – consumers and businesses – using a broad selection of PCs for a wide variety of usage scenarios. There is no better place to see this array of choice and innovation than at a show like CES. At the Windows 7 launch, we saw a terrific line-up of new offerings from partners, and this CES brings another wave of great Windows 7 PCs across a wide range of form factors and capabilities, including new designs on Intel’s 2nd Generation Intel® Core™ Processor Family and AMD’s Fusion APUs. OEMs are delivering great designs and personalized selection across the wide range of PCs including convertibles, gaming rigs, all-in-ones, ultraportables, everyday laptops, and tablet PCs. We know we’ll see additional waves of hardware innovation over the next several seasons as well and we look forward to continuing to work closely with our partners.

Microsoft News Center: What exactly are you demonstrating today as part of this announcement with respect to Windows on ARM?

Sinofsky: Today’s demonstrations will highlight the work we have done on the architecture of Windows to enable the richness of the Windows platform to run natively on the ARM platform. That includes support across a full range of scenarios like hardware accelerated media playback, hardware accelerated Web browsing with the latest Internet Explorer, USB device support, printing, and other features customers have come to expect from their computing experience.

The underlying architecture and engineering work includes a significant set of capabilities to run natively on ARM across the low-level subsystems of Windows as we bring Windows together with this new hardware platform.

Today’s demonstration represents the first showing of the next release of Windows. We know many of our most enthusiastic supporters are interested in learning more about the user interface, programming APIs, and other new features to come in Windows. The announcement today is just the start of our dialog with a broad community around Windows and, as with Windows 7, we will be engaging in the broadest pre-release program of any operating system. So there is a lot more to come.

Microsoft News Center: What can you tell us about Office on ARM?

Sinofsky: We’re committed to making sure that Windows on SoC architectures is a rich Windows experience. Microsoft Office is an important part of customers’ PC experience and ensuring it runs natively on ARM is a natural extension of our Windows commitment to SoC architectures.

Microsoft News Center: What else can you say about the next version of Windows?

Sinofsky: What we showed today was a technology preview of how Windows can adapt to run on SoC architectures. We are making this announcement now to enable our silicon partners, including new ARM partners, to collaborate across the ecosystem to bring innovation to market with the next version of Windows. We’re hard at work on all the aspects of the next version of Windows and we’ll share more information when the time is right.

Update: Intel CEO Paul Otellini addresses Microsoft’s ARM move in the wake of record earnings announcement [Jan 13] (emphasis is mine)

The plus for Intel is that as they unify their operating systems we now have the ability for the first time, one, to have a designed-from-scratch, touch-enabled operating system for tablets that runs on Intel that we don’t have today; and, secondly, we have the ability to put our lowest-power Intel processors, running Windows 8 or the next generation of Windows, into phones, because it’s the same OS stack. And I look at that as an upside opportunity for us.

On the downside, there’s the potential, given that Office runs on these products, for some creep-up coming into the PC space. I am skeptical of that for two reasons: one, that space has a different set of power and performance requirements where Intel is exceptionally good; and secondly, users of those machines expect legacy support for software and peripherals that has to all be enabled from scratch for those devices.

Part II. The Steve Ballmer CES 2011 opening keynote and all other Microsoft related
– Footage from the Microsoft keynote with some relevant keynote transcript excerpts included
– New Windows Laptops, Tablets and Slates Showcased
– The Next Generation of Microsoft Surface – LCDs That Can ‘See’
– New Xbox Avatar Capabilities on Display
– Copy-and-Paste Coming to Windows Phone 7
– Additional details for the three PCs demonstrated in the keynote
– Other new PCs
– Hardware acceleration for cloud clients (browsers etc.): AMD Fusion APUs, NVIDIA GeForce 500M [Jan 14]
– Xbox and Surface 2 additional information
– Windows Embedded Standard 7: the first wave of OEM partners exploiting the included Windows Media Center

See more in my CES 2011 presence with Microsoft moving to SoC & screen level slot management that is not understood by analysts/observers at all [Jan 7, 2011] report.



  1. […] of the emerging ‘Windows 8’ dev & UX functionality [June 24 – Aug 19, 2011] –> Microsoft’s next step in SoC level slot management [May 27 – June 2, 2011] –> Microsoft on five key technology areas and Windows 8 [May 24, […]

  2. […] 8’ dev & UX functionality ['Experiencing the Cloud' blog, June 24 – Aug 19, 2011] – Microsoft’s next step in SoC level slot management ['Experiencing the Cloud' blog, May 27 – June 2, 2011] – Microsoft on five key technology areas and […]

  3. […] Building Windows for the ARM processor architecture ['Building Windows 8' blog, Feb 9, 2012] – Microsoft’s next step in SoC level slot management ['Experiencing the Cloud' blog, May 27 – June 2, 2011] – Microsoft on five key technology areas and […]

  4. […] dev & UX functionality ['Experiencing the Cloud' blog, June 24 – Aug 19, 2011] – Microsoft’s next step in SoC level slot management ['Experiencing the Cloud' blog, May 27 – June 2, 2011] – Microsoft on five key technology […]

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