- 03-21-2013, 04:11 PM #1
I've been wondering since Blackberry decided to do Android emulation in an attempt to claim they had x thousand apps, should/could Microsoft make a similar move with x86 support on RT?
The major drawback of RT is seen as its lack of any kind of support for x86 desktop apps. So I have three thought provoking questions:
1. If it were technically possible for MS to make an "XP mode" for Windows RT, do you think they ever would?
2. Would an "XP mode" (even if it wasn't practical for games and multimedia) increase Surface RT sales?
3. Do you think it is technically possible? Obviously there are performance issues that may make it impractical, but I say, if anyone can write a Windows emulator it's Microsoft.
03-21-2013, 04:22 PM #3
- 273 Posts
If developers are not rushing to do this it only means there is not enough demand for it.
- 03-21-2013, 04:51 PM #4
You can't get around the fact that many developers will never port their x86 applications to ARM. Either because it isn't economically viable, they are no longer maintaining the application or they don't like Windows 8.
I'm pretty sure summing up the porting process to recompile is a vast understatement. Windows RT does not support Win32 APIs period. That is a show stopper for "recompiling" a whole lot of applications.
With RT sales apparently being canabalised by x86 Atom alternatives when does backwards compatibility start looking useful?
Make a cloud desktop service to provide a free Windows XP virtual machine using a virtual hard disk stored on my SkyDrive that I can remote desktop to from a client on my Phone, tablet (x86 or ARM), PC or Xbox. Or just pay/buy OnLive to provide an OnLive Desktop client for RT. Backward compatibility done.
Last edited by EdSherriff; 03-21-2013 at 07:02 PM.
- 03-22-2013, 02:38 PM #6
Fine, Windows 7 then. The principle is the same; a cloud desktop for compatibility mode. What's confusing about that?
I used XP mode as an example because MS had no qualms about including it in Win7. If they went with local emulation then running a virtual OS probably isn't even necessary, running the x86 executable in an instance of the emulator would be sufficient. Want an example? DEC's FX!32 was ground breaking when it used static binary translation to allow x86 Windows NT programs to run real-time on their Alpha ISA.
- 03-22-2013, 02:44 PM #8"Engineering is more than just the number of megapixels." - Stephen Elop
- 03-22-2013, 03:04 PM #9
Problem is though the general public aren't really familiar with remote desktop enough for it to be "sold" to them as a way to get around RT's restrictions. Having to own another PC which is left switched on is a bit of a limiting factor don't you think? Consider the alternative; SkyDesktop (or something) provided free by Microsoft as a cloud desktop environment running Windows 7 that you can access any time from your Surface RT, the whole session runs from a .vhd file on your SkyDrive which power users can download to a Windows 8 desktop and run locally. MS could offer a subscription version which unlocks the service from a basic remote desktop experience to a full OnLive type service allowing you to play high end games or whatever on your Surface RT.
The other offline emulator option would be a "Compatibility mode" which launches whenever you open a Win32 executable on the Surface. This would open an instance of the emulator which translates Win32 API calls to the equivalent Windows Runtime functions and provide binary translation from x86 to ARM.
So either option can be summed up by a salesman in one sentence when asked if Windows RT will run "normal" windows programs:
"Yes but you need to have an internet connection to do that. It's done over the cloud."
"Yeah it just runs in them compatibility mode."
- 03-22-2013, 03:15 PM #10
I think what people are failing to see is MS doesn't want x86 anywhere near the RT. That's why they gave us the option to buy Atom or i5/i7, x86 machines if wanted to.
Microsoft defends Windows RT as necessary disruption | Microsoft - CNET News
03-22-2013, 06:56 PM #12
- 117 Posts
This is a bad idea for a few reasons...
If MS built Win RT with emulation to run traditional keyboard/mouse optimized applications they would basically be creating a crappy, inefficient, and redundant version of Windows 8 that runs on very weak processors (ARM).
Emulation and virtualization have a certain amount of overhead and performance penalties caused by all of the translations that have to occur between software levels. ARM processors are very weak compared to mobile x86 processors. It's one thing to have a more powerful system emulating a less powerful system, but the reverse does not work well at all.
Traditional x86 windows programs will expect all kinds of different APIs to be in place that do not exist in Windows RT. Things like the Windows Registry, print subsystem, graphical user interface APIs, a file system layout similar to normal windows, security libraries, advanced networking, memory management, and tons of others that collectively make up Windows 8. Every application out there depends on a wide variety of these APIs and without them the app won't run correctly or even start. If you add all or even the most common of these APIs into Win RT as an emulation layer you will end up with Win RT being more bloated than the full version of Windows.
Windows RT isn't just about running Windows on ARM processors. Currently there are a few different Intel Atom based tablets running Windows 8 that have battery life, size, and weight similar to an iPad. Also, Intel isn't too far away from releasing x86 processors that are significantly more efficient and deliver ultrabook performance. Windows RT is, in part, about having a very lightweight and inexpensive version of Windows that is strictly for touch only devices running on low performance hardware. It's designed to compete directly against the extremely simple devices that run iOS and Android for people that just want a tablet that is a tablet and nothing more. Trying to make Win RT act like full Windows defeats the whole purpose of what Win RT is targeted to do.
The full desktop in the cloud thing would be a big deal to maintain for MS and not cost effective at all. They sell someone what is supposed to be a cheap content consumption device and they have to maintain a full OS with all of the customers installed desktop apps in the cloud. Not cheap and not easy.
Having said all of that, I do agree that it would be good if MS marketed the ability to use Win RTs built in remote desktop capabilities to access the customers own Windows 7/8 computer. They could have a program/wizard that helps you set it up from both sides including opening the required firewall ports and setting up a route of some kind to the internet to allow external access to PCs behind a home router.
Last edited by Cleavitt76; 03-22-2013 at 07:07 PM.
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