Microsoft's ARM Move Essential to Success in Mobile, ARM President Says

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ARM's president says that Microsoft's plan to make Windows compatible with ARM chips will enable Microsoft to finally succeed in the mobility space that includes smartphones and tablets.

(Reuters) - Microsoft's plan to make Windows compatible with ARM Holdings chip designs will help the software giant establish a major presence in smartphones and tablets, ARM's president said.

Microsoft has been slow to make a splash in the mobile market, dominated by Apple, Google and Research In Motion, but it's not too late, Tudor Brown told Reuters in an interview.

Microsoft said on Wednesday it will create a version of its Windows operating system that runs on ARM-based processors, a move seen as acknowledging that computing is moving away from personal computers, dominated by Intel's chips.

"With Microsoft, for some time it's been more a question of when, not whether, and finally it's now," Brown said at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. "We've been coaching and cajoling Microsoft for some time."

ARM licenses its processor architecture to companies like Marvell and Qualcomm, who use it to make chips that have come to dominate the smartphone market.

ARM-based chips also lead in tablets. A slew of companies -- including Motorola and Toshiba -- are unveiling tablets in Las Vegas running on ARM-based processors.

Intel, a long-time Microsoft ally, has also had little success getting into smartphones and tablets because its processors are viewed as less energy-efficient than ARM-based chips.

"Microsoft needs ARM to have any chance of playing in that (mobile Internet) space," Brown said.

Also at the Las Vegas trade show, graphics chipmaker Nvidia said it will use ARM architecture to design central processors, challenging Intel on its home turf.

(Reporting by Gabriel Madway, writing by Noel Randewich; Editing by Gary Hill)