Microsoft Confirms Windows Server On ARM Strictly For Internal Use

Last week, Microsoft made a surprise mention that it had been working with Qualcomm to bring Windows Server to ARM, a tidbit that no doubt sent many into a frenzy. At Intel, we wouldn't be surprised if a little bit of anxiety was felt.  From a consumer or enterprise standpoint, Windows Server on ARM could sound like an interesting route to take.

Well, as it happens, Microsoft didn't announce that Windows Server was going to become available for ARM. Instead, the company has been using WS on ARM internally, and as for now, that's not going to be changing.

Windows Server 2016 Install

ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley verified this through a bit of prodding, with Microsoft explicitly stating that this interesting OS release is for internal use only, and that it "allows the evaluation of Azure services on ARM servers", followed by, "Microsoft doesn't have anything more to share regarding future roadmap plans."

This begs an obvious question: why did Microsoft gift itself the ability to run Windows Server on ARM? The answer isn't that clear-cut: "A healthy ecosystem of multiple ARM server vendors ensures active development around technical capabilities such as cores and thread counts, caches, instructions, connectivity options, and accelerators. There is also an established developer and software ecosystem for ARM which also benefits from the high-end cell phone software stacks."

Windows Server 2016

It sounds like Windows Server on ARM proves useful enough to Microsoft, for Microsoft, to warrant development time. But this also helps further work on Project Olympus, a Microsoft-designed project provided to the Open Compute Project, a massive collaboration effort to improve server and storage efficiency.

It's hard to say if Windows Server will ever be released to consumers (or even just the enterprise) for ARM platforms, but it's not outside the realm of reason, given the effort Microsoft would have put into it so far. You don't have to look far to find Linux on ARM, so this micro-server market could be one Microsoft will look at harder in time.