Microsoft pens ARM architecture dealSoCs on the wayFri Jul 23 2010, 15:19
ADDING FUEL to rumours that Microsoft will actually design its own computing devices, the company has announced it has signed a new licensing deal with ARM, the IP deity of all things mobile and embedded.
This new deal expands on the original one in that it "gives Microsoft access to the microbarchitecture and instruction set of the ARM architecture", said Ian Drew, executive VP of marketing at ARM.
Microsoft, who was already an ARM partner, will have access to everything it will need to design platforms rather than just the OS. In so far as operating systems are concerned, that was covered by a previous agreement, which enabled Microsoft to basically design SoCs based on ARM and not just the software.
"It is a much broader architectural license, similar to the likes of Qualcomm and Marvell", added Mr Drew. Qualcomm and Marvell design SoCs and full-blown systems that any vendor can build on or simply rebrand - a world apart from what Microsoft does in its labs right now. Put the Vole in the same bag as the others and things may just start to happen. When asked whether Microsoft could design its own devices based on the license, the reply nipped us in the bud "We can't speculate on what Microsoft is going to do", added the exec, due to the confidential nature of the agreement.
The opportunity for Microsoft to design its own SoCs for mobile and embedded computing has not gone unnoticed. After the Kin flop, Microsoft might be looking to doing its kit in-house rather than rely on partners like Sharp to do the work for them. On the other hand, if Microsoft thinks Kin failed because of the way the handset was designed, then we'll beg to differ, creepy ads'n'all. Considering Microsoft is seen as being struck by Iphone/Ipad-envy, access to the ARM microarchitecture may give the monolith more drive to branch out its ED&D division into just about any area of computing, mobile or otherwise.
On the other hand, and contrary to popular belief, porting the desktop version of Windows to ARM is a separate matter entirely and we don't see why Microsoft would need to sign another agreement to get this done. µ
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