Microsoft licenses ARM tech in bid to own 'internet of things'

UK chip designer ARM and Microsoft have signed a licensing agreement for the ARM architecture in an extension of a collaboration deal that goes back to 1997.

UK chip designer ARM and Microsoft have signed a licensing agreement for the ARM architecture in an extension of a collaboration deal that goes back to 1997.

Details of the agreement were not disclosed.

Cambridge, UK-based ARM is the world's leading designer of microchips for mobile phones. More than one billion chips based on ARM designs were shipped last year, beating Intel.

ARM and Microsoft have worked together on software and devices for the embedded, consumer and mobile markets.

"Microsoft is an important member of the ARM ecosystem, and has been for many years," said ARM CTO Mike Muller.

"ARM is an important partner for Microsoft and we deliver multiple operating systems on the company's architecture, most notably Windows Embedded and Windows Phone," said Microsoft general manager KD Hallman.

"With closer access to the ARM technology we will be able to enhance our research and development activities for ARM-based products."

ARM licenses processor designs under a flexible licensing model, enabling highly integrated solutions for a variety of applications, ranging from mobile devices to home electronics and industrial products. ARM customers can license the ARM architecture or specific processor implementations.


Computer Weekly says...

ARM, the UK's most successful high-tech company, has been the subject of fevered City speculation in recent months. Some expected Intel to buy the firm when Intel announced record profits a month ago.

Microsoft has been losing market share in mobile operating systems to iPhone and Android in particular. It also killed Kin, its own mobile handset venture, after a mere six weeks. With Phone 7, its new mobile operating system, not due out until August, it is keen to recapture what it can of the mobile market.

However, an even bigger market looms: that of smart meters. The UK alone will replace 47 million gas and electricity meters in the next seven years. Each requires an intelligent device to manage data collection and transmission.

In future, home appliances, such as refrigerators, heating and air-conditioning systems, and other sensor-based devices will require similar intelligence.

If Microsoft and ARM can capture the "internet of things", their market power today will seem small beer.

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