Metro Will Be The Only Windows Interface On ARM

Windows chief Steven Sinofsky at Microsoft’s Build developer conference as reported by Daniel Robinson,

We’re not going to port the installed base of x86 applications to ARM. They don’t take advantage of the things that make ARM a great architecture.

But Microsoft has announced that Windows 8 will run on ARM. So there is only one conclusion. Take it away John Gruber:

I had been reading statements like this as meaning that they wouldn’t be doing Rosetta-style emulation of x86 software on ARM […], but that developers would be able to recompile traditional Windows apps for ARM. Now I’m thinking what they mean is more profound: that on ARM, Metro will be the only Windows interface.

Metro is actually a well thought out user interface (UI). Jensen Harris, Director of Program Management for the Windows User Experience Team, introduced the Metro UI in great detail during Build. The complete lack of chrome leading to an elegant, minimalist user experience centered around content is what impresses me. iOS in comparison feels heavy. Again here’s Gruber:

So I hereby amend my punditry. Windows 8 with the full Windows desktop will never be an iPad rival. But a version of Windows 8 with nothing but Metro looks like an excellent design for an iPad rival.

The Metro UI certainly seems to be a worthy rival to iOS on the iPad. But a brilliant UI alone isn’t going to get you places. Take a look at what many consider a superb mobile OS: Palm’s webOS. It’s going nowhere. And there are many reasons for that.

Tight integration between hardware and the OS wasn’t there. HP makes good enough notebooks and desktops, but when it comes to tablets, good enough isn’t good enough. It’s clear HP couldn’t get beyond good enough with the TouchPad.

A robust army of great developers with efficient tools to create amazing apps, weren’t there. A place to securely and easily purchase those apps in addition to a huge multimedia library was absent, too. For all of these reasons and more webOS despite it being a solid mobile OS didn’t make it.

Sure, Metro looks nice, but Microsoft will need a flawless execution on the entire tablet experience to not only compete with the iPad but to beat it.

Update: Well, there goes Gruber’s theory. Joanna Stern put up a video showing an ARM-based tablet running Windows 8 with both Metro and the traditional desktop.