Microsoft's announcement yesterday at CES that its next version of Windows will run on the ARM chip architecture was the wrong message at the wrong place, said an industry analyst.
"I'm baffled," said Michael Cherry, the analyst at Kirkland, Wash.-based Directions on Microsoft whose specialty is Microsoft's operating systems. "I just don't get what they get from this."
Cherry was talking about the news Wednesday from the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) that Microsoft will support the ARM chip line, which is prominent in smartphones and most recently, Apple's iPad tablet.
Microsoft gave what it called a "technology demonstration" of Windows on ARM, showing off some components but not its user interface.
Although the company has not named the successor to Windows 7, calling it yesterday only the "next version of Windows," most have pegged it as Windows 8. Nor did Microsoft executive Steven Sinofsky, who heads the Windows division, spell out a timetable for its release.
Previously, Microsoft has said it plans to upgrade Windows every three years, which would put the ship date of Windows 8 in late 2012.
But Cherry couldn't figure out why Microsoft would even talk about Windows 8 running on an ARM system-on-a-chip, or SoC, at CES.
"This is the Consumer Electronics Show, right?" said Cherry, emphasizing the first word of the monster trade show's name. "It's not COMDEX," he added, referring to the long-defunct computer show that Las Vegas last hosted in 2003. "And it's not the Professional Developers Conference."
Microsoft picked the wrong stage to talk up Windows and chips, Cherry contended.
"CES is like a car show," Cherry said. "When I go to the auto show, I don't mind seeing a couple of concept cars, but what I really want to know is what can I buy at the dealership now? This is a consumer electronics show. It's not about processors, it's about features. And I didn't hear anything about that."
What Cherry wanted to hear from Microsoft was what features and capabilities a future Windows will deliver on tablets, the hottest hardware category at the moment and the one that Sinofsky was referencing when talking about ARM.