Microsoft to Announce Windows for Tablets at CES

When it comes to tablets, 2011 will be a make-or-break year for Microsoft, as the software giant cannot repeat the mistakes made since the launch of the iPad. CEO Steve Ballmer is expected to announce a slew of new Windows-powered tablets at CES early next year, just like he did last year, but this time, Ballmer has a major surprise for his keynote’s audience: the new tablets will not use Intel chips. According to a Bloomberg report, Microsoft decided to re-engineer its desktop software to make it run on ARM chips, the chips used in the vast majority of tablets and smartphones. If the report proves to be true, the move would be a first, as since its launch back in 1985, the desktop version of Windows has been written for Intel chips. Unlike desktop PCs, tablets like the iPad or the Galaxy Tab do not use Intel chips, but use ARM chips instead, as these chips are specifically designed for battery-powered devices, and use a lot less energy, while offering impressive processing power. Microsoft initially hoped that many tablet makers would release Intel-based tablets, but the company’s wish never really materialized – the software giant eventually came to the conclusion that it had no choice but to tweak its flagship operating system to be able to compete with iOS and Google’s Android. Since this summer, tablets have become the #1 priority for the Redmond-based giant, and Microsoft even inked an agreement with ARM Holdings to license their technology, similarly to what Apple did last year, through its purchase of Semi PA. An ARM-compatible Windows would also help Microsoft eventually merge parts of Windows and Windows Phone, as the latter already runs on ARM chips.