What's Microsoft Really Doing With ARM-Based Tablets? (Updated)

Bloomberg reported today that Microsoft is busy porting Windows to the ARM-based chips that dominate the smartphone and tablet market. If true, that would likely mean no possibility of future WP7 tablets. Which sounds unlikely! Here's a better bet. Updated

Mary Jo Foley breaks down Microsoft's likeliest ARM scenario, and it doesn't involve full Windows. Instead, Microsoft's clearest path to ARM is Windows CE.

Microsoft's about to release Windows Embedded Compact 7 to manufacturing, and as a platform it makes way more sense in the tablet environment than full Windows. It also gives Microsoft a chance to port up a version of Windows Phone (which seems ripe for the tablet environment), with Silverlight providing cross-platform opportunities.

Either way, the only thing that's crystal clear is that Microsoft is going to be pushing tablets hard at CES. Much like, well, last year. But maybe Windows CE will give them a better chance than Windows 7 has to date.

Update: The WSJ supports Bloomberg's reporting, but with some interesting detail on timing. While they say Microsoft is indeed porting full Windows to ARM-based architecture, it's apparently going to be "two or more years" until it's commercially available. Clearly Microsoft needs a tablet OS solution right now, though, and Windows CE (and eventually WP7?) seems like as good a band-aid as any. [ZDNet]