Here’s an interesting job posting from Microsoft:
“Windows across all device categories is readying for the introduction of 64-bit computing with the ARM instruction set (ISA)… “
This means that Microsoft is looking for new developers to develop Windows for ARM computing. You’d think they’d be burned after their billion-dollar write-off with Windows RT, but that’s not the case. They did announce some time ago that Windows 10 will be supporting ARM devices. The dead giveaway is support for the Raspberry Pi, which is powered by an ARM processor.
Currently, the ARM market is just too big to ignore, and the market for Intel-based computers continues to slide. Windows RT failed, but that doesn’t mean Microsoft can’t try again. Microsoft should try or face a potentially slow death in the unlikely case that ARM deposes Intel-based machines on the enterprise.
Technically, Microsoft did well with the platform with the Surface and Windows RT. The world may have been too surprised or too confused with Windows RT. The uninspired name coupled with bad marketing during the Ballmer era didn’t help the platform at all. Things would have been different if there was developer support but things were happening too fast in the realms of Android and iOS for them to work on a third, uncertain platform.
What’s different this time is that Microsoft is the cool kid again. Windows 10 brought back the Start Menu and added Cortana and a new browser to replace the hated Internet Explorer; the Surface Pro line are now probably the coolest PCs available, giving rise to clones, a term unheard of since the early days of the IBM-PC. Microsoft also rolled out its cool new Surface Book laptop and there’s a huge anticipation for their AR platform the Hololens. Like Apple, Microsoft’s build conferences now generate intense buzz and the world awaits what they’re going to come up with next. So yes, they can try again with Windows RT which we shall henceforth call WiRT.
Remember playing Blizzard’s Diablo I? It’s a real classic. Wirt was a crippled kid of an NPC who lived in Diablo’s fictional town of Tristram. He had a peg leg which was attached after becoming crippled in the first demon attacks. He didn’t offer much in the game and was killed after the events of Diablo I. In Diablo II, his body yields plenty of gold to the player and his peg leg has the potential to open a bonus cow level.
So at first try, Microsoft’s WiRT was okay but, in the end, failed to thrive because he was crippled, by a lack of apps and a problem with marketing. Some said even the sellers in Microsoft stores had trouble explaining the difference between Windows 8 and WiRT. But many users who understood the platform, its advantages and limitations remain happy with their Surface devices despite Microsoft’s abandonment of the platform. But hope is not lost.
Hopefully, with Microsoft back in the ARM saddle, the poor children of WiRT can receive new updates again, and Microsoft can finally roll out a new Windows version for ARM for a new generation of users. By the way, lessons learned, instead of naming this new Windows version something nonsensical like Windows RT, let’s call it Windows 10 for ARM or WARM. It’s simple and makes sense. WARM feels like a cool name doesn’t it?
And there’s good news. The positions are filled and there’s no sign of the posting in Microsoft Careers website, so Microsoft is pushing ahead with the plan, which they should, like five years ago. Microsoft shouldn’t have much problems with the new platform. They already have the base code either from Windows RT or Windows 10 for the Raspberry Pi. All that’s needed is an easy-to-use development platform to WARM up to developers so they can easily and quickly make apps. Or like Nintendo, Microsoft can make launch titles (apps and games), about a hundred of them. Hire and pay more developers to make those launch titles instead of waiting in a field of dreams like Kevin Costner, because up to now, the number of Universal apps are still kind of short. What did WiRT have going for it versus all other tablets? There was Office so MS can build on that, which they already have now for Android. Microsoft had plenty of great games in its stable so they can port those. Also, like Blackberry, Windows for ARM can emulate native Android apps, at least for sideloading in order to mitigate the app shortage problem.
And lastly, Microsoft needs to hammer it in with proper marketing. Hire brilliant advertisers and salespeople to tell consumers that they have a probably cheaper, more productive choice outside of Android and iOS. Tell consumers what to expect from WARM and how it’s different from traditional Windows. If Microsoft sells Surface devices at a premium, WARM-based devices can serve as their budget line. Microsoft plays its cards right, WiRT will have a WARM comeback, take users to that cow level for a lot of beef.