Gizmodo posts lots of news. I read them often and I mostly like the detail and quality of their articles. Lately, they’ve been posting not only shallow, but flat-out technically wrong content about Microsoft news and products. Their latest gaffe was to claim that Microsoft is treading a dangerously similar path to the one that lead to the Department of Justice trial for monopoly after coming to the conclusion that Microsoft is involved in some conspiracy theory to prevent all browsers from running in Windows Classic mode.
Let’s expand a bit: Microsoft announced that Windows 8 will run not only on the x86 platform (with processors made by Intel and AMD, but compatible with each other) but it will also run on ARM processors; a line completely incompatible with programs made for the x86 line, but more efficient when it comes to power management and mobile features such as tablets. ARM processors are what Android tablet OEMS are using for their Android tablet lines. This means that Microsoft is releasing 2 versions of the next Windows 8 in one; two sources that look and behave very similar to each other… and this is the key to the question… understanding that they are the same on the outside, but their core is compiled to run in two completely different platforms. The version of Windows 8 to run on ARM is set to have some limitations, and here is where Gizmodo’s authors don’t seem to have a technical grasp of the situation. Microsoft has also announced that Windows will have two modes for running: Metro and Windows Classic. The Metro mode is what everyone has been talking about, with the tiles and touch interface that works great on touch devices and has received so many design awards. The Windows Classic mode will run legacy applications.
While Windows 8 Professional on x86 will run legacy applications in Windows Classic mode AND Metro apps installed from the Windows 8 Marketplace; Windows 8 on ARM will not allow users to install legacy applications as they are not binary-compatible (which is a fancy way of saying they don’t run because they were prepared for another processor line). It also means that Microsoft has the possibility to split the two lines of Windows 8 if needed and continue with one, the other or both in the future. In any case, Microsoft has decided that even though no third party applications will be installed in its Windows Classic mode for Windows 8 on ARM; they will still provide some of their own legacy applications such as some setup apps, Windows Explorer, MS Office (which will come bundled for FREE with Windows 8 on ARM) and MS Internet Explorer 10. In other words, they are only there for users that are already accustomed to the old look and feel and still want to make use of MS Office while not needing an overly powerful PC to do so.
The issue resulting out of this is that some are misinterpreting this as a conspiracy by Microsoft to prevent competing browsers from running on Windows 8, which is not only inaccurate but flat-out ignorant.
Third party application developers can still release as many applications as they want. They can develop their apps to run in Metro mode, which guarantees them that their apps will be able to run in both Windows 8 Professional in Metro mode and Windows 8 on ARM in Metro mode, or they can have two code-bases and develop a Metro mode app that will run on all lines of Windows 8 plus their existing code (that runs on Windows 7) to run in Windows 8 Professional without the need for any changes.
As far as I see it, browser developers can still release browsers as feature rich as they want in all versions of Windows 8, so why would Gizmodo interpret this as some shady scheme against browser developers?