CNET's Brooke Crothers says that his sources have told him that Windows 8 is now stable on the ARM platform and will be seeded to developers soon. He also suggests that the ARM versions of Windows 8 will indeed include the legacy Windows desktop.
"Windows 8 on ARM should go to developers in February, said one source, who had some hands-on time with a high-profile device from a major PC maker, adding that Windows 8 was impressive and stable," Crothers writes. "In October of last year [Windows 8 on ARM] scared the industry because it was unstable. But what we are seeing now is quite stable, said another source, who also confirmed an expected February developer time frame."
Among the other tidbits of interest in this post:
Less expensive. ARM-based Windows 8 devices will be less expensive than those based on x86 ... to the tune of "hundreds of dollars less on ARM. "
ARM and x86 releases will not be staggered. Despite rumors that the ARM- and x86-based versions of Windows 8 might ship at different times, Crothers's sources say that's not so. "The release of Windows 8 on ARM should not be later than the release of Windows 8 on Intel," the post notes.
Microsoft Office. According to one of Crothers's sources, "Office is fine [on ARM]." If true, this means that the legacy Windows desktop will be included on ARM-based versions of Windows.
Legacy applications. As expected, however, normal legacy applications will not work on ARM without being recompiled for that platform. "I'm not aware of any third-party legacy applications running on Windows 8 on ARM," one source told CNET.
Why so secret. One of the most vexing things about dealing with Microsoft these days is the veil of secrecy around anything about Windows 8. The app compatibility story on ARM-based Windows 8 versions may be a big part of this, the report suggests. "That's one of the snags that Microsoft is trying to work through. You want to come out with a fairly robust library of applications, one source said. Both believe this is one of the reasons Microsoft is being cautious about demonstrating Windows 8 on ARM."