back to article Microsoft starts offering advice in how to code for Arm

Microsoft has announced an “Arm Advisory Service for developers” that it hopes will help coders to develop native software for the version of Windows written for the processor architecture. Citing research from analyst firm Counterpoint that finds Arm-powered PCs will enjoy 25 percent market share by 2027, up from 14 percent …

  1. StrangerHereMyself Silver badge

    Maybe

    Maybe by 2027 a quarter of all PC's will be ARM. But those won't be running Windows....but Linux.

    You see, Windows has no advantages over Linux when running on an incompatible processor which negates decades of Windows legacy software. Linux is cheaper to run and far more secure and infinitely more flexible.

    1. DS999 Silver badge

      Re: Maybe

      Most of the laptops today Counterpoint cites are using ARM are running macOS, the rest are running Chrome. If the total share reaches 25% it will be because of greater success by Apple or Google, not the failed Windows on ARM experiment. Microsoft has supported other architectures before but they've always thrown in the towel eventually. They have even thrown in the towel on ARM once already, though that was not much of an effort.

      I would put the odds at 50/50 at best that Microsoft still supports ARM by the end of the decade. They gain nothing by supporting another architecture, when everyone knows that not only will x86 continue to be supported but will always be the most important platform with ARM permanently relegated to second class status. This isn't like Apple where they introduced support for ARM Macs but that was a migration strategy, not a coexistence strategy with two platforms. Supporting two architectures without any migration strategy just increases your support costs, and increases the burden on developers who follow you.

      The market share of Windows ARM PCs is so small it isn't worth it for developers to support ARM - even its very existence costs them money as they have to worry about people having support issues who might be running on ARM and using Microsoft's translation software. If they have an issue is that a bug in your software, in Windows, or in Microsoft's translation? Or maybe some third party piece like a driver that happens to interact with what they were doing.

      Qualcomm is the only company interested in making Windows ARM happen, mainly because they saw the smartphone market had matured and expanding into new markets is the only way they can achieve further growth. Eventually they will throw in the towel when they realize they will never succeed in taking any real Windows market share, and without any vendor support Microsoft will give up as well.

      1. StrangerHereMyself Silver badge

        Re: Maybe

        BTW Apple has taken a huge hit (25% drop) in Mac sales. I predicted as such, but no one would listen. I feel I've been vindicated.

        And no, this hasn't been the case in PC's. The market there remained flat, whilst Mac sales took a nosedive. My prediction related to many high-end professionals ditching Macs for x86 PC's since they couldn't run Windows natively on it anymore. They won't accept emulation.

    2. Ian Johnston Silver badge

      Re: Maybe

      Linux is cheaper to run and far more secure and infinitely more flexible.

      Who needs simple printing or reliable sound, anyway?

      1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

        Re: Maybe

        It's not like Windows is any better. Windows doesn't even have a basic thing like aggregation of audio interfaces and it prints when it feels like it.

      2. jake Silver badge

        Re: Maybe

        Linux printing and sound issues pretty much went away nearly a quarter century ago.

        Is that really all that's holding you back from using Linux? Might want to re-assess your priorities to fit in with the real world.

        1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

          Re: Maybe

          Real time audio is still pretty broken.

          1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

            Re: Maybe

            People who downvoted can provide a link how to set up multichannel audio interface with less than 5ms latency on Linux and without any clicks and drop outs?

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: Maybe

              Horses for courses.

              In such extreme edge cases, it only makes sense to use the tool that works for your needs.

            2. StrangerHereMyself Silver badge

              Re: Maybe

              Have you tried Ubuntu Studio? There are many specialized Linux audio distro's which use the Real Time (RT-PREEMPT) extensions for low latency audio.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Maybe

        Printing is more reliable on my linux box at home than from our windows laptops or the various apple devices in our house.

      4. StrangerHereMyself Silver badge

        Re: Maybe

        Never have any trouble with either on my Linux Mint desktop. Just so you know.

    3. Steve Channell
      Windows

      Re: Maybe

      if at first you don't succeed...

      For years I used a Lenovo Yoga as my main email/web PC - it had great battery life and always on. Where Microsoft went terribly wrong was presuming that it would dominate, and locked it down to control the market.- its unlikely they will make the same mistake again.

      While Windows-11 has been mostly a "why bother", some of us adopted it for the WS/g Wayland driver that enables GPU access from Docker containers. Wayland support is a prerequisite for Windows Subsystem for Android, which is a potential game changer, if managed right. Windows might just succeed in the tablet space.

      Although most have probably missed it, Windows is now the main OS for thin-clients - the future of desktops is thin-clients and MS has already won here

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Maybe

      Have you actually used Windows on Arm? I use it virtualised on a Mac and it so far runs pretty much any x86/64 software I throw at it under emulation.

      Once developers adopt it (the way devs for MacOS had to) then of course it maintains its advantage.

      What Linux advocates always seem to forget is that MS don’t make their real money from home users. They make it from corporations who are locked into AD, Exchange, group policy, SCCM and other software deployment methods, plus more recently Azure, and of course MS Office. If they all become working on Arm better than they already might be then it’s just another natural evolution of Windows and its ecosystem.

      1. StrangerHereMyself Silver badge

        Re: Maybe

        If they don't make any money from consumers they probably won't mind if Linux Mint takes over the desktop?

        If this comes to fruition I'll bet you people in Redmond will start panicking. Everyone knows that the home market is important for business sales too.

        "Here Clement, here's your $100 million. Now sod off okay?"

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Maybe

          Really it's the other way around - their business means people at home use Windows too.

          Linux will never take over the desktop, except when made to work in a specific way like Chrome/Android. It's too fiddly, too cumbersome, and too incompatible. This coming from someone who uses Linux on servers quite happily.

          1. StrangerHereMyself Silver badge

            Re: Maybe

            I believe it will, but we have to standardize and rally around one specific Linux distro for it to work. ISV'S will not support dozens of Linux distro's, even though their software could probably be made to work on all of them.

  2. jake Silver badge

    Microsoft offering advice on how to code?

    In other news, undertaker to offer medical advice ...

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Microsoft offering advice on how to code?

      Each developer will be given access to Windows and Office source code repositories with the advice "don't do what we've done here".

    2. druck Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Microsoft offering advice on how to code?

      It's a bit rich Microsoft giving advice on ARM coding. Maybe with 64 bit ARM things are a bit different, but back when they first started supporting 32 bit ARM on Windows CE, their compiler was SHIT. I've never seen code generation as bad or as buggy as that. Even versions 3 or 4 of gcc could run rings around it, and they weren't a patch on Norcroft.

  3. tiggity Silver badge

    Cross platform coding

    ...Never a MS strongpoint.

    I remember windows mobile, had to code for it separately and when switch from mobile 6.x to win phone 7, devs had to either essentially write new 7 apps from scratch or ditch "new" version(s) of windows mobile (a lot did drop win mobile) as no tools provided for porting 6.x code to phone 7..

    Win mobile would have been a great chance to develop ability to write once and target multiple platforms (e.g. desktop & mobile way back then) but it did not happen.

    Still playing catchup with MAUI not gaining much traction as long suffering devs so wary of MS massively promoting something and then ditching it (silverlight anyone?) and early supposed "stable" versions were anything but.

    Obv, coding "to the metal" is a different thing entirely, but for anything written using a "high level MS language", MS always seemed to hate the idea of write once run anywhere and just loved platform specific projects.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Cross platform coding

      Don't forget another big app rewrite from 7 to 8 which stamped on it again just to make sure it was really dead.

    2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Cross platform coding

      Yes. Generating for a different instruction set is trivial. That's a compiler switch and some more testing.

      Harder is writing software that has to call different APIs because neither one of "Windows on ARM" and "Windows on x64" is actually a subset of the other. That's a pain in the butt and if I'm going to port to a "close but no cigars" variation of Windows then I'd probably pick winelib as my target because there are more potential customers.

  4. yossarianuk

    About 90% of Linux applications already support arm.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Maybe not as ready as you think, watch out for tricksy endianness.

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        I think most ARM Linux flavours are little endian. The processor doesn't care so why would you deliberately give yourself all those "tricksy" issues that you allude to?

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Cubieboards, routers, and media boxes running Allwinner and Rockchip SoCs can be designed to run in big endian so Linux and userland software have to as well.

  5. FirstTangoInParis Bronze badge

    Power

    There’s been a lot of focus for business laptops about power longevity, as in N hours on a single charge. Arm MacBooks work well here, but likely mostly because they aren’t running the corporate monitor/logging, data loss protection etc. If the app vendors can crack that, that would help. MS apps on MacBooks are still by far the largest apps, a GB or more, so they take ages to load up. This is something the web app vendors don’t have a problem with, hence Chrome Books lasting ages on a charge. But then web apps on a laptop only work when you’ve got a good network connection; airports are rubbish for this. There’s a happy medium somewhere.

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