When it was announced that Windows 8 would also support the ARM architecture, it was immediately questioned if x86 applications would run on ARM PCs. There has been some confusion on the matter but Steven Sinofsky clarified during a Q&A session this week that x86 applications will not run on ARM based PCs.
This news really shouldn’t come as a major surprise considering the differences between the two architectures. One argument made about why Microsoft didn’t work to create such cross functionality is because of malware and viruses. Slashgear reported that Sinofsky said, “if we do let them run, we just brought the perceived negatives of some of the ecosystem.” He explains, “so, people say, great, now it’s easy to port viruses and malware and we’ll port those."
The architectural differences between the two platforms is so different that to make it even a possibility would most likely require a virtualization extension. If this were the case, it would undermine the entire purpose of supporting the ARM architecture, not to mention the performance would be less than desirable.
The good news is that ARM based Windows 8 products will not be susceptible to the same attacks as the traditional desktop products. Being that there will be considerably less ARM based products out their when compared to x86 or x64 based installs, they should be much less of a target for those with malicious intent.
Microsoft has been saying that ARM and x86 will not be compatible since CES. While this information is not entirely new, there had been some information circling, due to a slightly ambiguous quote, that caused some to believe that this was possible. The confusion came back in May when Intel let slip information regarding Windows 8 which caused Microsoft to pin down Intel for releasing inaccurate information. The confusion arose when Microsoft didn’t specify what information Intel leaked that was inaccurate.
As we said earlier, this is a re-affirmation that ARM and x86 applications will not work natively across the gap. If you had hopes and dreams and were living on rumors that this information was true, sadly, you will be disappointed.