Microsoft exec: Uh, no, Windows 8 tablets won’t run Windows PC apps

“In a clarification, a Microsoft executive said applications built to run on the tablet version of Windows 8 won’t be compatible with the desktop version of the operating system,” Paul McDougall reports for InformationWeek. “The executive also said that the tablet version won’t be able run any applications built for previous versions of Windows.”

“‘We’ve been very clear since the very first CES demos and forward that the ARM product won’t run any x86 applications,’ said Stephen Sinofsky, president of Microsoft Windows unit, during a meeting with financial analysts Wednesday,” McDougall reports. “Windows 8 for tablets runs on devices powered by chips designed by U.K.-based ARM. The desktop version runs on traditional, x86 chips from Intel and AMD.”

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McDougall reports, “Sinofsky’s comments came a day after he implied that apps for the tablet and desktop versions of Windows 8 would be cross-compatible. ‘The demos we are showing you today are equally at home on ARM or x86,’ Sinofsky said, during a keynote presentation at Microsoft’s BUILD conference in Anaheim, Calif. But at the meeting with analysts, Sinofsky said cross-compatibility would not be practical because apps need to be optimized to take full advantage of the hardware on which they’re intended to run.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: With each passing day, the mirage evaporates.


[Thanks to MacDailyNews readers too numerous to mention individually for the heads up.]

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  1. So the ‘Softies will be stuck having to use the cloud-based MS 365 instead of installing the Office bloatware on their tablets. That’ll save ’em 5GB of tablet storage space right there. What’s not to like?

  2. I would think some of the .net based stuff would be capable of running on ARM, at least the .net software that does not use PInvoke to access the Win32 API directly.

    Of course if MS has no plans on a full ARM port of the .net framework then its a no go.

    Native applications I can understand and ARM probably lacks the performance needed to make x86 emulation usable.

    1. Yes. Microsoft is causing itself a BIG bag of hurt with all the confusion it’s creating.
      People are going to say “This is called Windows 8 and that is called Windows 8. Why won’t this program run on Windows 8? They are going to have so many returns it’s not funny.
      If you have to buy totally new programs to run on the tablet, cause it’s NOT compatible with your desktop, you may as well get an iPad. It’s totally different also, and already has a ton of programs already written for it.

  3. But will the Windows 8 for tablets be able to get the same Blue Screen of Death that the Windows PC users are so accustom to seeing?

    People hate to see things change after it took them years to get accustom to it. How long will it take to do a full restart after that?

    Will they have to get all new viruses and spyware or will the infestation in their Windows PC just port across? It could take hours, or minutes or a few seconds to get reinvested and that is not what they are use too!

      1. No. Windows users will no longer have to suffer those legacy aparitions once plug-in architecture is bannished from the tablet OS offshoot.

        In fact, there is no file manager in Metro, nor are there any more of those terminate and stay resident background apps, everything is sandboxed, just like iOS. Not that I’m comparing the two on a substantive level.

        But it looks to me like Microsoft is in the early stages of going Vertical. With the advent of Metro, is Microsoft establishing a beachead for the war over mobile computing? If so, how far behind is another scandal regarding Microsoft’s character?

        I could see where Microsoft might use it’s desktop arena to subvert attention away from the nuts and bolts of Metro. At some point, following pressure from the market, Microsoft will unveil a Metro Universe, a marvelously new, but flawed platform held together by a subset of .Net. Meanwhile, Microsoft’s partners are reduced to pilot fish status.

        Microsoft is ready to create a new class of human interest but it will have to further granulate its marketshare. I mean, haven’t they finally pulled the support plug on XP users? I’m sure there are still several million of them out there.

        The Metro-class marketshare is just now entering junior high and by the time they hit the laborforce, the Windows Desktop will be something they used to use in school, gone from the workplace, except for the graphics and AV departments.

        Microsoft’s future looks brighter, especially if Ballmer steps down after the new year. AAPL, on the other hand, is clearly the leader in technominiaturism and the confluence of biology and machine is already on the drawing board.

        It’s not hard to imagine a doctor implanting a permeable sheet of iOS technology that can be used as a binding agent between muscle and sensory input to enable an opening and closing of the hand with simple gestures on the forearm.

        I look to Apple for these things because Microsoft is only now just beginning to take full control of the OS experience in Metro. Without the benefit of legacy plug-in architecture, Microsoft has to assume a role which has been antithetical to its best practices; originality.

        It’s one thing to be Apple-like, but quite another to be original at the most basic layers of communication, expression, and connectivity. Apple invented much of it, as it exists in iOS and OS X, crafting a durable platform for the ages, whose properties have lifted all boats in the Market, including Microsoft’s.

        Apple’s providence will hasten its lead into biomechanics, which will eclipse oil futures in the market. The interest in Apple in the last few years has been noteworthy, eclipsed only by its stellar performance in the market, but Apple as we knew them as kids, has grown up, and finally embraced its success. It’s not no longer afraid of being accussed of selling out to the suits.

        The worm turned with the advent of a Verizon iPhone. A brave new Apple would embrace capitalism and create new markets in the other industries. Peter Cook will empower the Captains of Industry with the building blocks to make life-sustaining connections.

        The future is all about connectivity at the molecular-level. But as clever as they are, even Apple cannot deliver the web of connections I realize, each time I put my mind to it, however, the genius of Apple Inc., is their ability to reduce the superficial normally associated with poor design. Microsoft is stealing yet another page from the Apple Operations; the Vertical Market concept, for a newly emerging platform, that will always be the alternative, and in some circles, could manage to obtain Underdog class.

        I know Apple is heading for conflict, how could they possibly anticipate all the unknowns of venturing into unchartered territory for any business, now and in the past, without suffering fools and their errands, by those who want to siphon off of the revenue streams with little to no contribution of their own.

        The Apple brand is ubiquitous and its technology has the potential of becoming a powerful commodity in emerging industries. I see a major influx in the market concerning Apple financials. When the smoke clears Apple, Inc. will treble in magnitude and they will have achieved a kind of business cachet unheard of in business school.

        And then I woke up…


    1. I thnk I saw a pic of the “new” Blue Screen of Death- same as the old one, but friendlier-looking.

      I’m very disappointed in Mac pundit Andy Inhatko salivating over this, as he did previously when Vista first came out. He must have Pogue Syndrome- either easily amused or trying to hard to appear objective. Jim Dalrymple has been a tweeting riot, however- the Beard is very entertaining.

  4. So, ARM tablets will need optimized tablet apps, and won’t run desktop PC apps, just like how Apple has setup the iPad. The only difference seems to be that PCs will be able to run tablet apps, which Apple only allows developers to currently do in emulation. So, I’m not seeing the big revolution here.

    1. It *does* seem that Microsoft is once again copying Apple’s approach, by restricting the OS on their “tablet” competitor to the iPad. But, as usual with Microsoft, the can’t do this without completely screwing up their marketing message.

      If they weren’t so pathologically married to the “Windows” name, they should really just call their new tablet OS “Metro”, and let “Windows 8” be the trainwreck of an OS for desktops.

    2. The difference here is that Apple has never stated that iOS apps will run on Mac OS X, where Windows is even calling their tablet OS “Window 8”, just like the desktop x86 version. Plus, given Sinofsky’s statement that the demos “are equally at home on ARM or x86,” it certainly seems that Microsoft either is intentionally clouding the water or that Microsoft itself doesn’t really know (I vote for the latter). There’s a possibility he was referring to documents/data moving back and forth (like an Excel or Word doc), but that’s a lot of doubt.

      Either way, Microsoft is going to be 3 years too late to the party, with no apps, no ecosystem, and developers being few, far between, and highly skeptical.

        1. Actually for a time Apple was calling iOS “OS X iPhone” but that was still a clear distinction from “OS X Leopard”.

          Then it was “iPhone OS” and “iPad OS” for a while until they settled on iOS.

  5. And some people thought fragtardroid was fragmented. In the past all 97 versions of windows would run on the same machine.

    What now,
    Windows 8 Tablet basic
    Windows 8 Tablet basic Advanced
    Windows 8 Tablet Home
    Windows 8 Tablet Home Advanced
    Windows 8 Tablet Home Advanced Deluxe
    Windows 8 Tablet Deluxe
    Windows 8 Tablet Deluxe Advanced
    Windows 8 Tablet Deluxe Advanced Turbo
    Windows 8 Tablet Deluxe Advanced Turbo Deluxe
    Windows 8 Tablet Professional
    Windows 8 Tablet Professional Bronze
    Windows 8 Tablet Professional Silver
    Windows 8 Tablet Professional Gold
    WIndows 8 Tablet Professional Platinum
    Windows 8 Tablet Professional Advanced
    Windows 8 Tablet Professional Bronze Advanced
    Windows 8 Tablet Professional Silver Advanced
    Windows 8 Tablet Professional Gold Advanced
    WIndows 8 Tablet Professional Platinum Advanced
    Windows 8 Tablet Professional Advanced Deluxe
    Windows 8 Tablet Professional Bronze Advanced Deluxe
    Windows 8 Tablet Professional Silver Advanced Deluxe
    Windows 8 Tablet Professional Gold Advanced Deluxe
    WIndows 8 Tablet Professional Platinum Advanced Deluxe

    Windows 8 Tablet Professional Platinum Advanced Deluxe Unobtainium

    Windows 8 Tablet Professional Platinum Advanced Deluxe Unobtainium TURBO!!

    1. That’s awesome. I hope it really comes out that way. After it’s all about choice from MS. It’s the same POS but at least you get to pick which level of POS you want. 😉

  6. The real funny part is that Windows 8 tablets won’t run Windows 7 Phone apps (either one of them).

    So what we have is yet another completely new mobile platform from Microsoft with zero compatibility. I’ve lost count of how many they’ve failed with to date.

  7. The plot sickens. After the fawning fanboy media reports of the Microsoft presentation on Windows 8, I was left with the initial impression that Windows applications WOULD run on the Windows “slate.” Not so. The mainstream IT and news media totally laid an egg on this one, and I read multiple articles from the usual suspects – CNet, ZDNet, eWeek, PC World, as well as multiple newspaper stories online. ALL of them failed to make this clear.

    But when you think about it, would you dare want to run traditional Windows apps or MS Office applications (Word, Excel, etc.) as currently written on any tablet? Traditional Windows apps were never coded with touchscreen as the primary mode. Yes, there are Windows tablets that use a stylus and touch screen PCs. But none of them are specifically designed as apps for the iPad would be. Imagine trying to navigate the Ribbon interface with your hand – it’s a disaster as it is with a mouse.

    That aside, there are some smart people inside Microsoft, and it is likely that they immediately understood this. Add to that the immediate success of the iPad, and someone with brains in Redmond realized that they had to redesign their interface. That much I will credit them. It will be interesting to see if the Metro interface is well thought through – Android is a mess to use compared to the iPad.

    But shame on Microsoft for poor communication in not making clear the distinction between their Windows 8 for PCs and Windows 8 for tablets. And shame on the media for not reporting this with even remote accuracy.

    1. Over the past FOREVER as MS tried to shill a tablet, the big selling point has been it runs exactly the same as a computer, same apps, same OS. MS didn’t do anything to change that perception by calling the tablet OS by the exact same name as the desktop OS.

      Also, back in olden turn of the century days of yore, when they (MS) rolled out a phone OS, at least they differentiated by calling it Windows Mobile, or Windows CE

    2. Well, Bri, as you said (and I agree): there are some pretty smart people inside MS. And because there are, this is exactly the kind of confusion that they would INTENTIONALLY try to sow, if only to buy for time.

      It could be that they think/hope/pray that there’s a solution yet to be discovered over the next year. Maybe they’re looking for some kind of emulation/VM thing that;ll run x86 binaries on ARM with remotely decent performance.

      All I can say is, good luck with that. They can stall for a while, since they know businesses typically don”t move quickly anyways. [One reason why XP lasted as long as it did.] But the FUD chickens have to come home to roost eventually. And when they do..,

      I just wish Uncle Fester would get the hate straight. I thought the tablet was “no threat” to the desktop hegemony, because there were always things that the desktop is better suited for. [Not that you’d ever know this from all those years that MS tried and failed to promote Windows Tablet.]

      Now they seems to be pushing some ridiculous vision that would be akin to Apple renaming iOS to MacOS X Lion and proclaiming “one OS to rule them all”, regardless of what it did, how it looked, what it ran or what chips it ran on.

  8. “Sinofsky’s comments came a day after he implied that apps for the tablet and desktop versions of Windows 8 would be cross-compatible.”

    This blithering idiot is President of the Microsoft Windows unit. Clearly, he’s yet-another salesman with no comprehension of the technology he’s selling. Love it! It’s called:


    And it kills.

    1. I can hardly wait for the victim/customer backlash when they figure out that Windows 8 PC ≠ Windows 8 tablet. They will lose (hey, I spelled it right!) bladder control:

      “Whatta ya mean they don’t run the same apps?! Are they or are they NOT both Windows 8?! DAMMIT?!” 😆

    2. Actually he is a software engineer by trade and has a degree in computer science.

      He was one of the designers behind the original MS C++ foundation classes and built numerous shared application features in office over the years.

      Here is where im confused personally – Ms demoed an x86 version of windows 8 that ran both tablet and win apps. OK fine.

      However they are saying they are supporting ARM for tablets and ARM can’t run win apps. OK I get that.

      My question is this, will consumers have a choice of x86 and ARM tablets or are the tablets going to be limited to ARM only? M

      What a confusing ordeal they are creating here.

      Thank god i only have one windows pc left in my house. I could not have made the switch soon enough

      1. In the switch to AIM alliance RISC chips from the old 030/040 from googlerola , Apple made sure older programs could run on the new chips.

        In the switch from OS 9 to OS 10, Apple made sure via classic that older apps could run in the transition period.

        During the switch to Intel from AIM chips, there was Rosetta to keep things going.

        Across the portable line, IOS has powered phone, pod, and pad as they came available.

        MS is going to get egg on their face. After 3 decades of ‘we like to drag along every outdated POS from the earliest days of DOS’ mentality, a Windows 8 that runs on either tablets, or desktops but not both will be the camel back breaking straw that drives more people in the waiting arms and app eco system of Apple.

        1. If MS stays true to form, they will bring out 2 versions of the Windows 8 tablet OS: x86 and ARM. Two completely incompatible versions making a consumer’s nightmare. T’will be great fun to watch from outside the MS sphere of influence. Load up on popcorn and soda…

    1. Right. He probably did not attempt to imply that apps were cross-platform, only that the experience of viewing the demos was the same with either chip. Or something like that. But everyone INFERRED it. People just want, so desperately, to believe! For some reason.

  9. “a Microsoft executive said applications built to run on the tablet version of Windows 8 won’t be compatible with the desktop version of the operating system”


    The whole reason people use Windows in the first place is because the vast sea of exclusive programs for it locks them into the platform. If a new version of Windows isn’t compatible with that vast sea, why the hell would people use it? Answer: they wouldn’t. See Windows Phone 7 for further reference.

    Of course, even with the abbility to run regular desktop x86 programs, Windows PC tablets still failed miserably because trying to use regular desktop x86 programs on a tablet sucks royally, and laptops trounce it in every way. Which means without this abbility, they’re just going to fail even worse than they did before.

    Microsoft is completely screwed here. Include compatibility for x86 Windows programs, fail. Omit it, fail harder.

    This all makes Zach Eptein’s sycophantic article about Windows 8 even sadder than it already was.

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