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(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)