“A low volume of test PCs specifically designed for WOA will be made available starting around the next Windows 8 milestone,” writes Sinofsky, “these devices are for developers and hardware partners, and do not represent consumer form factors, by any stretch of the imagination. They have diagnostic tools and ports. They are designed to be opened and debugged. They do not have the final components or firmware (or power or thermal management) that a commercially available device will use. They are made of low-cost plastic. These PCs are expensive to make and distribute because they are basically low-volume custom PCs.”
Microsoft calls its Windows 8 for ARM-based computers its ‘Windows On ARM’ project. “Using WOA ‘out of the box’ will feel just like using Windows 8 on x86/64,” says Sinofsky.
The first chip-sets for WOA computers will come from the three semiconductor companies which have been developing the chips with Microsoft. “These PCs will be built on unique and innovative hardware platforms provided by NVIDIA, Qualcomm, and Texas Instruments, with a common Windows on ARM OS foundation–all running the same Windows OS binaries,” says Sinofsky.
The timescale for launching WOA computers will be the same as for launching x86-based 64-bit PCs. “Our collective goal is for PC makers to ship WOA PCs the same time as new PCs designed for Windows 8 on x86/64, using the latest generation of those platforms from low-power to high-performance,” says Sinofsky.
That is expected to be Q3.