Today at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show, Microsoft announced that “the next version of Windows will support System on a Chip (SoC) architectures, including ARM-based systems from partners NVIDIA Corp., Qualcomm Inc. and Texas Instruments Inc. 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.”
To drive the point home:
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.
“Windows will continue its industry-leading support across the widest possible set of devices, delivering the breadth and choice that customers demand. Intel and AMD continue to evolve and improve the x86 platforms, including new low-power systems, and advance new designs such as the recently announced 2nd Generation Intel® Core™ processor family and AMD’s Fusion accelerated processing units (APUs). NVIDIA, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments are joining Microsoft to provide ARM-based designs for the first time.
To those with long memories, Windows NT supported other processor architectures besides Intel, but that support disappeared over time due to lack of market interest. Now the situation is reversed with the mobile market compelling “light” architectures and operating systems that have the traditional Wintel players scrambling. Windows 8 is unlikely to arrive before 2012, but the real question though is whether a full-fledged Windows OS is really the right fit for the mobile market and when touch enabled apps will arrive to run on it.
Last Friday, Joe Wilcox raised the thorny question of whether the iPad is really a PC. It is thorny not just in terms of philosophical and taxonomic abstractions, but in terms of counting by major PC market researchers, Gartner and IDC.
According to Apple’s fiscal third calendar-quarter earnings announcement, 3.472 million Macs shipped during calendar Q2. Apple also shipped 3.27 million iPads. If iPad counts as a PC and the numbers are combined, then Apple shipped 6.742 million personal computers during second quarter. That’s high enough to raise Apple to No. 5 in global PC shipments.
Complete US information is not available, but Wilcox’s analysis shows that adding iPads to the PC total could well put Apple in 3rd place behind market leaders HP and Dell and perhaps higher in Q2. As for Q3:
But what about third quarter? Could Apple top Dell or HP? The answer would depend on how iPad is classified. Is it a PC? If, yes, then based on analysts projections for PCs, Macs and iPads, Apple almost certainly could sell more units than HP or Dell in the United States. I’ve seen Wall Street analysts’ iPad shipment estimates range from about 4 million to over 5 million units. Macs: Hovering above 3 million units. Assuming even half the combined Macs and iPads were sold here, Apple would be in striking distance of topping either HP or Dell.
All of this is more important than bragging rights, of course. The real question is what the iPad surge is doing to the bottom line of the Windows PC hardware makers and to Microsoft’s cash cows of Windows and Office. There may be plenty of room for all with the iPad style tablets creating a wholly new market, but how many iPads are purchased in lieu of a PC or an additional PC? I add that last caveat because the iPad currently has a strong functional dependence on another PC running iTunes so I find it hard to imagine an iPad-only user. Still, grabbing the second PC market has got to hit the Windows PC food chain. Once again, I have to observe that this market could have been Microsoft’s – now we get to see what penalty they will pay for missing it.
It’s been a long time coming but the steady progress of x64 technology from both Intel and AMD has finally impelled Microsoft to drop future support for Intel’s variant Itanium 64-bit processor family.
Windows Server 2008 R2 will be the last version of Windows Server to support the Intel Itanium architecture. SQL Server 2008 R2 and Visual Studio 2010 are also the last versions to support Itanium.
Current support for Itanium remains unchanged. Each of these products represent the state of the art of their respective product lines. Each fully support Itanium, support the recently-released Itanium 9300 (“Tukwila”) processor, and Microsoft’s support for these products will continue – following the Microsoft Support Lifecycle Policy. Mainstream support for Windows Server 2008 for Itanium-Based Systems (and R2) will end, in accordance with that policy, on July 9, 2013, while extended support will continue until July 10, 2018. That’s 8 more years of support.
Why the change? The natural evolution of the x86 64-bit (“x64”) architecture has led to the creation of processors and servers which deliver the scalability and reliability needed for today’s “mission-critical” workloads. Just this week, both Intel and AMD have released new high core-count processors, and servers with 8 or more x64 processors have now been announced by a full dozen server manufacturers. Such servers contain 64 to 96 processor cores, with more on the horizon.
Microsoft will continue to focus on the x64 architecture, and it’s new business-critical role, while we continue to support Itanium customers for the next 8 years as this transition is completed.
Once upon a time, Windows NT (the precursor to Windows Server) supported a variety of microprocessor architectures, but they have been steadily whittled down over the years. Itanium remained as long as it did because of its early promise of an industrial strength 64-bit Intel architecture. Now it mainly exists to power some Hewlett-Packard HP-UX (Unix) servers.
The rumors of an Xbox 360 price reduction came true today, but it turned out to only be a clearance sale on the 20GB version as Microsoft has replaced it with an 60GB version at the old price:
Microsoft Corp. is giving consumers more gigabytes for their buck. The company today announced an Xbox 360 console with triple the storage space of the original console, but for the same price of $349 (U.S.) estimated retail price (ERP).
Available in retail stores in the U.S. and Canada starting in early August, the upgraded Xbox 360 will include a 60GB hard drive for storing the growing wealth of digital entertainment available for the console, including music, movies, television shows and game content. In addition, Microsoft today dropped the price of its 20GB Xbox 360 console in the U.S. and Canada to just $299 (U.S.) (ERP) while supplies last, a savings of $50.
Xbox 360 is just one of three Xbox 360 gaming and entertainment systems Microsoft offers. Microsoft’s Xbox 360 Arcade, which comes with a 256MB memory unit and five Xbox LIVE Arcade games, is a value for the whole family for $279 (U.S.) (ERP), and the premium Xbox 360 Elite console is available with a 120GB hard drive for $449 (U.S.) (ERP).
Presumably cost reductions on the base electronics and on hard drives make it all doable at a profit or not too much of a loss. Don’t expect Nintendo or Sony to follow suit though:
I’m just waiting for Sony’s release now to complete the picture by saying something along the lines of: “No way, our $399 (40GB) and $499 (80GB) models are still bargains, considering you get a Blu-ray player.”
Seriously, Sony has said they’re not going to cut prices during E3, but there is a rumored new model coming in August.
Originally, the Sony PS3 seemed overpriced, but Blu-ray may well have saved the PS3 or the PS3 may have saved Blu-ray depending on how you look at it.