Microsoft’s announcement that Windows Operating System will support processors made by ARM Holdings, sent the British chipmakers share prices up by 2.2 percent on Thursday. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer made the announcement during the inauguration of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.
This is the first time Windows will support chips made by ARM. ARM processors are extensively used in modern day smart-phones. Windows have traditionally supported chips manufactured by Intel.
In a press note UBS commented: “While expected, we view this as a very positive (development) long-term for ARM.” Microsoft will continue using Intel designs for other applications.
ARM CEO Warren East termed the development as a ‘significant milestone’ for the company. Sharing Windows technology will “enable innovative platforms to realise the future of computing, ultimately creating new market opportunities and delivering compelling products to consumers”, he added.
ARM is the market leader in mobile processor technology and close to 80% of phones – including Apple’s iPhone 4 are built on ARM processors. Windows mobile applications already support ARM chips.
ARM has a global presence and employs 1700 people worldwide. The Cambridge, UK headquartered company has development centres in France, Sweden, India and the US.
Gareth Evans – analyst at brokerage Investec said the deal is extremely crucial. “The confirmation shows a determination on the part of Microsoft to compete seriously with Apple and Google Android-based devices in the tablet and portable device market”, he said.
“The new technology will eventually apply to a group of products, not just tablets, although it will realistically be two to three years before Arm-based products will be released”, he concluded.