In case anyone is wondering why the new look and feel for Windows 8, I have a few bits of interesting information you might want to consider while pondering this question. Aside from the obvious which is just to provide something new to the masses to make their operating system look like it’s evolving here are some very real factors that might have played a part in their design decision.
ARM is becoming a significant if not dominant computing platform in the world today as many manufacturers have signed up to create ARM based platforms. So in case you’re not up on the technology yet here are a few key points.
First of all ARM is not a single chip or chipset. It’s actually a hardware architecture which puts RISC at the center of the technology. RISC and CISC have long been competing hardware processing unit design philosophies. The principle behind RISC is to create processing units that have very simple instruction sets so that software can be designed as efficiently as possible by optimizing and balancing mathematical operations with memory access operations. At the very core of software development mathematical and memory fetch operations are really the only things that a processing unit is concerned about.
What is the current adoption rate of RISC in the hardware manufacturing market and who are the drivers of this technology? Well interestingly enough, although RISC and the Adavnced RISC Machine (ARM) architecture have been around since the 1980s, a very significant driving force behind RISC today is IBM. You’ll see these three initials pop up in one RISC based project after another since they first conceived of the PowerPC architecture.
I know everyone equates PowerPC with Apple who was actually one of the principal partners in driving this technology with the Apple PowerPC line of computers. Also, at the time Apple was always associated with Motorola who was the CPU manufacturer favored by Apple at the time. However it was IBM that assisted Apple and Motorola to create a new platform to rival the existing dominant Microsoft and Intel alliance. Those of you who remember the original feud between Microsoft, Intel and IBM will recall the PS/2 architecture which failed just years before the first PowerPCs hit the market. The PowerPC was actually the result of an alliance between Apple, IBM and Motorola known as AIM.
The reason I mention RISC technology is that I’ve just discovered that the power behind the XBox 360 is a triple core power house using three 3.2Ghz PowerPC cores. So if anyone is wondering what happened to the PowerPC well it’s still alive and well! Also, as a side note you might be interested in knowing that the Playstation 3 also uses RISC technology with a slightly different configuration. The PS3 uses a RISC based technology they’ve called, “Cell” which was the result of another IBM alliance between Sony, Toshiba and IBM known as “STI”.
So, keeping all of this in mind, it seems like little more than a coincidence that the same user interface look and feel that Microsoft has baked into the XBox 360 and Windows Mobile 7 is now finding it’s way back into the main desktop user interface in the form of the Metro UI in the Microsoft Windows 8. It seems like a statement to me that Microsoft recognizes the dominance of the once underdog technology RISC and are preparing themselves for mobile finally!