Microsoft reportedly working on server software that will run on ARM-based chips

While Microsoft is rumored to be getting out of the Windows RT business for its ARM-based Surface tablets, a new report claims that the company is currently working on a version of its Windows server software that would run on ARM-based processors.

The report comes from Bloomberg, which cites unnamed sources. It adds that Microsoft has not made a decision yet on if it will launch the ARM-based server software to the public. If the report is true, this could allow companies that use ARM-based chips to enter the server hardware market that's been dominated by machines that use Intel's chips. HP recently launched their Moonshot servers that have ARM-based chips from AMD.


While ARM tablets using Windows RT have not proven themselves to be popular to consumers, it's possible Microsoft could find a new enterprise and business audience for the operating system with servers. Do you think Microsoft should continue Windows RT development for servers?

Source: Bloomberg

John Callaham
  • Windows Central Heads up, your rumometer has "Windows Phone Central" in it.
  • Ditto!
  • And most of their main article images (for example the one in this article).
  • If it can help mobile app capabilities, then why not. Glad that MS has taken a lead here if this is indeed true.
  • This wouldn't really affect mobile apps in any way.
  • Where is lumia denim, this is the last Oct week
  • Next month, maybe?
  • Where is my shoes, it was supposed to be in my room -_-
  • Good point. Continuing on your topic. I heard there is a price drop coming on Xbox.
  • I got it, and i had no idea how did i get it
  • I just wish Microsoft lots of success in whatever they do.
  • Me too :)
  • Me too ;-)
  • Me three :)
  • Με φουρ I mean Me four
  • M€ Fi\/€!
  • Me $ix
  • Me too! :')
  • Me seven! :')
  • Well, I have to 2520s, and love them. I have no issues with RT, and hope development continues
  • Unlikely. Due to poor sales. For the record I continue to use my original surface tablet.
  • Yeah, I used my original RT for two years, and just finally upgraded to a Pro 3 for the stylus. I then gave my RT to a friend of mine who is using it every day for school. It was super useful, but I can see why maybe they are getting rid of it.
  • Come down to apps...if good apps were avaliable the RT would be better than teh Ipad.  I love my RT and find it very useful especially when traveling, too bad MS did not focus on better apps for it with developers.
  • Too bad that developers didn't put more/much effort into developing for it. It's not all Microsoft's fault. Also it's not RT would be better than the iPad. It is better than the iPad,even without the apps. Apps are what makes the iPad useful at all. Take the apps away from the iPad (or iPhone for that matter),and how useful are they? That's why I hate that iShit now. Disclaimer: I use both the Surface RT and iPad Mini daily.
  • I do wish there was an updated 2520 in the pipeline. It still is one of the most beautifully designed tablets I've seen.
  • 2520 is just 720 zoomed with 1020.
  • +71020
  • Still using my original Surface but will eventually have to get another Windows tablet to use daily as it has taken damage (entirely my fault). Still love RT though.
  • It will be called Windows 10.  The Windows Phone and Tablet will use the same Interface and Kernel.  No More RT, just Windows 10.  No more interface to the traditional desktop either.
  • Interesting.... And why.
  • I'm curious what type of server will run on ARM hardware.
  • Thousands of arm chips in a room server can do a lot. Microsoft needs to be on that business because Linux is getting a lot of market share.  It's all about power consumption, heat and finally monthly cost. The biggest cost of server room is electricity needed for the servers and the giant AC(s). Web server, email server don’t always need a lot of processing power…
  • A lot of arm chips in Redmond weigh over a pound.
  • Ones which serve a lot of requests bit aren't that demanding in terms of processing.
  • Simple server "applicances".  These are basically low power, preconfigured systems that host a common generic server role.  For example, firewall, VPN, NAS storage, small business file server, print server, etc.  "Plug and Play" servers more or less.   The same things can be done on x86 hardware, but ARM might provide lower power consumption in some cases (although x86 is getting so close that it's becoming a non-issue).
  • This is really cool! The more stuff we can get to run on ARM, the better for Windows RT. But other than cutting costs (SP3 vs Surface 2 RT or SRT3 if they make one) or running a server on a Windows Phone (which would burn up a data plan real quick) I just don't see the real-world practicality.
  • I want to see Windows 10 on ARM devices
  • Not ms to.. My friend who was working in Samsung told me they where also planning to launch one but dropped it after was Linux based...
  • bad move if no more Windows TR, I love my surface 2 and like to get a surface 3 not a pro 3
  • There is nothing called Windows TR ;)
  • RT lol..;-)
  • Not sure that this has anything to do with RT. I imagine this could just be a universal app for the phones and x86 devices. They are, after all, banking that enterprise will adopt the Modern apps and would want to show an example.
  • Hmm maybe they are looking to consolidate the work they had going on "Midori", into consumer products??
  • Bring it. Server DataCenter on my Lumia 1020.
  • Don't get excited, people. It's only for iPhone and Android.
  • Knock it off...
  • Surely the plans are not to create a "Windows RT Server", but rather to have one version of "Windows 10" that runs on Intel or ARM chips. It makes no sense to have RT running on a server. However, if ARM chips can compete with the processing power of Intel chips down the road... could be a huge cost saving benefit for IT departments (less wattage and cooling)!
  • Exactly. I'm not sure why "RT" was mentioned because it has nothing to do with Windows Server. What this will be is Windows Server that's compiled for ARM CPUs. Windows is already portable across CPU architectures (it has been ported to DEC Alpha, Intel Itanium, etc.).  
  • You are right of course. But then 'Windows RT' was simply Windows 8 compiled for ARM CPUs (minus a few hardware specific subsystems not present on ARM hardware).   Despite all the misunderstanding about it in the media (including this article John, sorry), Microsoft failed to make this clear by giving it a different name and arbitrarily limiting access to (and development of) Win32 and .NET applications for ARM. But this was all just a policy decision, not anything to do with 'RT' per se. 'RT' was never a different OS, and most people talking about it that way just reinforces the lack of clarity that Microsoft itself created.
  • I'm pretty sure that when ARM chips can compete on processing power, their wattage and cooling needs will be the same as intel. However, as was noted in a post above, not all servers need alot of processing power to get the job done and cost savings from less electricity is a huge advantage. 
  • I agree with you. The more processing power, the more power consumption in the same architecture. When ARM chips are getting close to Intel ones, they will be as power consuming as Intel chips, not to mention Intel owns the most advanced chip making technology, which means Intel could make chips in "smaller nm", at that time, ARM chips would lose ground if they try to compete with Intel in terms of processing power. The reason why ARM chips are so power saving it because they are far less powerful, and this is why ARM CPUs exisit.
  • Should be easy enough to do with RT in existance, so why not?  Microsoft have a history of supporting different hardware platforms.  Given recent Intel power gains I'm not sure I see the end-user benefit, especially as key tools like SQL Server and Oracle don't exist for ARM.  But it may help ARM use across all profiles if Visual Studio supports ARM allowing people to rebuild anything.  I think I'd give this a 4/10, but let's wait and see.
  • I want a Surface 3 (RT) :(
  • While ARM based Windows tablets are actually quite usable, I can understand that most people confuse between these tablets with x86 based ones. But in server realms, there should be less worries about this. Even ARM-Linux based server are quite increasing lately. So Windows version is a must to try this new market.
  • Hahahaha ....... Hahaha .......haha if you think you're gonna get denim in the uk soon this is Microsoft we're dealing with hahaha Cortana in the UK (properly) hahaha haha. Obviously I don't mean the new phones
  • "Do you think Microsoft should continue Windows RT development for servers?" Is this accurate? I.e. is the ARM server software a variant of or someway dependent on Windows RT or something completely separate/different?
  • Very, very smart move. I believe that ARM is totally the future of the server business.
  • I think it will end up in the same position as itanium was
  • So my Surface 2 is not going to die soon...
  • Hey commenters, look at the grid computers being built with ARM chips and tell me again why MS shouldn't play in this space.   I've seen ARM racks that have a greater processing density than x86 counterparts. So while some only think of computers in terms of single socket / cpu systems, the real power comes when you connect thousands.
  • RT is Windows for ARM, so does "MS getting out of the RT business" mean, they are abandoning windows support for ARM? No Windows 10 for ARM????
  • Windows RT suffers from terrible marketing and I think it is very important for Microsoft to continue to get Windows on ARM platform for multiple reasons: Intel needs competition and we need to move forward to a more modern app platform that is independent from hardware platform. Keep in mind that Windows RT does indeed support desktop apps if they are compiled for ARM or are .NET 4 programs. Out with the old Win32!
  • Agree. Windows RT received terrible marketing and was not taken seriously. Fortunately, like with Windows Phone, things have changed on Microsoft but maybe its too late for Windows RT. I have a Surface 2, the best tablet I ever had. Maybe its psychological but I like the idea of having a high-end ARM processor than an low/end Intel processor (Atom) like has been the norm for Windows tablets
  • Seems fastest
  • Lots of NAS machines like QNap run on Linux/ARM this would offer a substantial alternative if they priced it like Windows Home Server. 
  • Cloud first mobile first, Satya said it from start. It is about cloud and MS Azure, cheaper chips, and less power mean cheaper operation costs means higher margins
  • X86 & X64 were past which are still living peacefully. ARM Architecture is Present in both 32-bit and 64-bit processing. Microsoft must focus on new architecture in 64-bit to 256-bit data bus and address bus in order to meet future processing criteria. If They invest in current structure, finally they will find themselves among companies which struggle to survive among too many tech companies that reached and /or surpassed Microsoft. Offering ARM based server is just overclocking the business, which lasts shorter than they expect.
  • I was at ARM TechCon when HP announced their Moonshot server hardware.  At first, I didn't understand what place ARM has in a server room and why people were so excited.  So afterwards, I asked ARM, Western Digital, and other higher-ups at the conference what the big deal was.  The answer was: power efficiency.  Intel kicks butt on raw compute power, but is horribly power-hungry.  So for servers that don't need to lots of comupting power, but need to be always-on, always-connected, these are good fits.  (The WD guy suggested that HD controllers for large server racks of disks would be a good example.) So, absolutely, MS should be in on this game.  ARM may not make sense for full-desktop, but it obviously makes sense for mobile; and now ARM is showing that the embedded server space can be well utilized, too.