Windows 8Windows On ARM lacks manageability features present in 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows 8.
On Wednesday, Microsoft released the Windows 8 Consumer Preview so that consumers can get a taste of what's to come later this year. Not to ignore the IT sector, Microsoft also released a Windows 8 Consumer Preview product guide for business (PDF) so that administrators can know what to expect out of all Windows 8 platforms, even Windows on ARM.
According to the document, the ARM-based version of Windows does not include the same manageability features that are in 32-bit and 64-bit versions. Instead, businesses can use the devices in unmanaged environments, as ARM-based tablets use less power than 32-bit and 64-bit devices and workers can rely on their extended up-time.
So far it's unclear as to what features will be missing from the Windows on ARM platform, and Microsoft has yet to make any clarifications. But for businesses, this lack of support means the ARM-based devices can't be added to Active Directory domains so that system administrators can manage users accounts. They also can't be remotely managed through Microsoft's System Center environment.
However Microsoft provides an alternative workplace scenario thanks to Windows To Go. "Offsite temporary workers can be given a Windows To Go drive for the duration of their employment so that no corporate data is stored on their personal device," the document reads. "Remote and work-at-home employees can be issued a Windows To Go drive for regular work done outside of the office. In these scenarios, the Windows To Go drive enables remote worker productivity while helping keep corporate data safe."
Business striving to provide Windows 8 in a tablet form factor can still use the 32-bit and 64-bit versions, as these can easily integrate into the existing management infrastructure. "These tablets can be managed in the same way as traditional desktops and laptops, so IT professionals can ensure that these devices can easily be added to any business," Microsoft states. Using Windows On ARM, however, seems to be out of the question for now.
Both Intel and AMD are gearing up for the mobile Windows 8 revolution later this year. AMD will reportedly start with its 40-nm "Hondo" 4.5W APU featuring 1 to 2 low-voltage Bobcat cores and an on-die DirectX 11 GPU. After that, AMD will follow up with the "Temash" APU which will be a 28-nm chip packing two Jaguar cores. In the meantime, Intel will provide Clover Trail W sporting a single-core Imagination graphics engine that will be used by HP and other manufacturers in their Windows 8 tablets.
So why would manufacturers want a 32-bit version of Windows 8 for their new tablets? Possibly for "budget" devices that still sport an older 32-bit SoC. Even more, companies who already purchased a 32-bit tablet may possibly be able to install 32-bit Windows 8 via a USB stick (if a full-fledged USB port is present, of course). So far the details are unclear.
Wednesday during the Windows 8 keynote, Microsoft showed several Enterprise-based features like the aforementioned Windows To Go and Storage Space. But there was clear indication that Microsoft has only scratched the surface in regards to details, and that more information concerning Windows 8 Enterprise will be revealed next week at CeBIT in Hanover.
Kevin Parrish is a contributing editor and writer for Tom's Hardware,Tom's Games and Tom's Guide. He's also a graphic artist, CAD operator and network administrator.