As the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas gets underway, news has started trickling in about interesting new announcements from players in the electronics field, one of the major among them being Microsoft.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Microsoft yesterday held a demonstration at the show where the company showcased its next version of the Windows operating system (OS), optimised to run on new mobile devices such as tablets.
The demonstration came in the wake of Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announcing that the company had shipped 8 million Kinect units during the product's first 60 days on the market, solidly trouncing Sony's PlayStation Move in terms of sales figures.
But an area where Microsoft hasn't been quite as strong as on the gaming side has been with the new rush for tablets. Outpaced by Apple's iPad and the plethora of devices running on Google's Android OS, Microsoft is now aiming to catch up by making its signature operating system more compatible with mobile devices.
"Windows PCs will continue to adapt and evolve, it means Windows will be everywhere on every kind of device without compromise," Mr. Ballmer stated in his speech.
Microsoft showed its next version of Windows (as yet unnamed) running on ARM designed processors. ARM chip designs are common in a multitude of devices but are especially suited to modern mobile devices as they use much less power than traditional microprocessors.
Companies such as Nvidia, Qualcomm and Texas Intstruments all manufacture ARM chips, and these are basically essential ingredients to designing a practical battery-powered tablet.
Microsoft also stated that its new version of Windows will still run on advanced new miniature chip designs from companies such as Intel and AMD.
Steven Sinofsky, president of Microsoft's Windows division said that the software being run on new ARM processors at the show did not include the user interface (UI) people will see on the new version of Windows, but that it was more intended as a demonstration that Windows can migrate to these low power chips.
The company has previously come under fire from critics for not creating the Windows 7 interface to be easily compatible with touch-screen devices, so a thorough re-imagining of this is sure to be in the works (maybe one looking more like the Windows Phone 7 OS?)
Mr. Sinofsky did not comment on when the next version of Windows would be available to the public, but said that there is usually a two to three year development cycle between new versions of Windows, meaning we may see the new OS later this year or next year.