Previously, the Windows operating system has only run mobile devices compatible with the x86 instruction set – but all of that’s about to change. The newest iteration of the Windows platform, Windows 8, will be the first version of the OS to run on devices compatible with the ARM instructions set. Microsoft is calling this ARM compatible version “Windows RT.”
Here at the Snapdragon booth at Uplinq, we had a chance to go hands-on with this new version of Windows running on a development tablet with the Snapdragon S4 processor.
Windows RT offers both the brand new Metro UI, which looks like Windows Phone, and the Desktop UI, which looks like the desktop version of Windows 7. Although the Desktop UI is currently available, third party apps will only run in the Metro UI.
Microsoft describes Windows 8 as “fast and fluid” – a statement that I’d have to agree with. It definitely felt peppy. Pinch-to-zoom in the Metro Web browser also felt lighting fast. Another feature that stood out is the ability to stack apps next to each other--one app can occupy a third of the screen while another app occupies two thirds of it. It’s a nifty feature since other operating systems can’t run two apps side-by-side.
Only Microsoft’s core applications were available to tinker with (mail, news, Internet Explorer, etc.), but they all flew. Qualcomm has yet to announce what OEMs will use the Snapdragon S4 processor to make Windows RT PCs.