Qualcomm is working with Microsoft to get Windows 8 working on its ARM-based processors. Qualcomm's Snapdragon range of chips is already powering a huge number of Android smartphones and tablets, but it seems that tablets running Microsoft Windows 8 will also be Snapdragon powered - finally breaking the long-standing …
How long will this take, and will anyone buy one?
Probably, if it's half the price of Apple's offering and is "open"...
Half the price of ipad?
Well, other than a few dodgy old resistive screen jobbies coming out of China nobody has managed to significantly undercut apple without cutting some significant corners that I am aware of and that is when using an OS they don't even have to pay for.
I don't have a lot of faith that the existing set of buffoons in the PC OEM business have much of clue at all.
IT's been done before and it didn't work
It's been tried before, but it's a pain to run compiled programs from one chip on another. Either it's sucky emulation or the supplier has to recompile from source.
NT3.x ran on four processor families and only the Intel one survived, does anyone really think that it's going to do any better this time?
With open source this isn't the same scale of problem, so Debian runs on loads of different processors.
Apple got away with emulation because they were able to emulate a slow PowerPC on a fast Intel Core, I don't think a slow/cold ARM is going to be able to emulate a fast/hot Intel processor...
Kind of .....
Commercially it didnt work but the OS was clearly portable from the outset. The non Intel processors (PPC, Alpha and "the other one") might not have survived long term but the OS ran fine on all of them. True you did have to recompile all your code for the target platform which was a pain but that was a relatively straight forward process, including drivers.
What might make it more palatable for applications developers this time round is C# and the Common Language Runtime. You compile your application code into something processor agnostic and either it gets run in a VM like environment, or it compiles to the underlying processors instruction set as required when its installed or run.
doesn't matter much
If you want your software to work on tablet it needs different GUI anyway, so recompiling is least of your worries. For the same reason few will care that existing Win32 binaries won't work on tablet Windows.
Not that much of a problem
Windows software doesn't work very well on an Apple fondleslab, and that hasn't stopped people from buying them as fast as Apple can make them. I think non-compatibility with iOS apps will be a bigger barrier to adoption.
Doesn't matter now
It doesn't matter now as software is delivered by download (often via an AppStore). It didn't work before because software distribution was on CD. These devices will not even have CD/DVD drives, everything will be by download. The fact that it didn't work before is irrelevant, the internet wasn't fast enough for all software to be downloaded at that time.
ARM PC board, when?
So when am I going to be able to buy a board to go in a PC enclosure that has an ARM CPU instead of an intel Atom CPU?. At a competitive price. [M]ATX / ITX footprint. And with standard PC interfaces (plenty of SATA and USBs).
Why? Low power consumption, for 24x7 operation. Fanless / silent. (I'd run LInux, of course).
"WinNT: recompile all your code for the target platform"
Not on NT/Alpha you didn't. You could take a Win32/x86 application and it would get translated (not interpreted, not exactly emulated) to Win32/Alpha code, transparently and on the fly, using concepts that were in use for DEC's VMS transition from VAX to Alpha (on VMS the translation technology was called VEST, on NT it was called FX!32).
There were two (well, one, really) major snag with this, and they were commercial not technical: Microsoft weren't on side.
Microsoft didn't care if Alpha, MIPS, or PowerPC succeeded, they cared about Windows dominance. Because that was the case, the non-x86 drivers weren't there, the non-x86 apps weren't there (even the MS ones) and there was always a questionmark about support (suppose something misbehaves under FX!32, who do we blame?). See e.g.
On ARM, it is in Microsoft's interests to actually be working closely with device vendors and making sure the drivers and apps are available. Also, "emulation" technology has advanced a great deal (just look at QEMU etc). And for those who have truly bought the MS Kool-Aid there is the alleged .NET/CLR platform independence.
It's interesting to remember the ACE consortium. But times have changed.