ARM, the firm behind the processors in many smartphones, has announced that it has signed a new licensing agreement with Microsoft, giving the software company full access to ARM's chip architecture.
While Windows CE, Zune and Windows Phone handsets have all been designed to run on ARM processors, this deal gives Microsoft complete access to ARM’s chip technology.
“This is an architectural license,” ARM’s executive vice president of marketing Ian Drew told TrustedReviews. “We work with various companies… but this is somewhat different. It’s a fairly rare thing that happens. This gives Microsoft not just access to our cores, but the recipe to the instruction set as well.”
Three other companies have licenses to ARM’s architecture, Infineon, Qualcomm and Marvell and all produce chips themselves. However, Drew would not be drawn on what he thought Microsoft’s plans were for the deal.
“What they are going to do with it is really up to them, but this really validates our business model. We’re an IP licensing company and we’re excited by the deal.”
Drew could not comment on the timelines of the deal saying the terms of the deal were confidential and Microsoft had not responded to a request for comment on the deal at the time of publication.
Some analysts have suggested that Microsoft may now be able to optimise Windows to run on the ARM architecture, leading to Windows based netbooks and better performing tablets to compete with the iPad.
Would you like to see a Windows based ARM netbook? Is Microsoft concerned that Intel Atom based tablets won’t be able to achieve the right combination of performance and battery life? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.