Microsoft Said to Work on Software for ARM-Based Servers

Microsoft Corp. is working on a version of its software for server computers that run on chips based on ARM Holdings Plc’s technology, people familiar with its plans said, a move that could help loosen Intel Corp.’s grip on the market.

The world’s largest software maker has a test version of Windows Server that’s already running on ARM-based servers, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans aren’t public yet. Microsoft, based in Redmond, Washington, hasn’t yet decided whether to make the software commercially available, one of the people said. Microsoft now only offers a server operating system for use on Intel’s X86 technology-based processors.

An ARM-based version of Windows Server may help bolster efforts by computer manufacturers to bring ARM’s technology into more powerful computers where it could challenge Intel’s dominance. ARM dominates in mobile-phone chips, while Intel has 98 percent of the market for processors used in servers that run on personal-computer chips.

Mark Miller, a spokesman for Microsoft’s cloud-computing and enterprise business, and Edmund Gemmell, a spokesman for Cambridge, U.K.-based ARM, declined to comment.

Hewlett-Packard Co. and other companies have said that ARM-based chips have a place in servers, where they can compete with Intel’s products on power savings and price. Hewlett-Packard this year began offering a version of its Moonshot server line that runs on ARM-based processors from Applied Micro Circuits Corp. ARM licenses the technology used in processors and also sells designs.

Although Hewlett-Packard announced plans to use ARM-based hardware in 2011, Intel has gained share in that time as the rival technology failed to catch on. Early ARM-based server chips lacked fundamental capabilities needed in servers and not enough software was available for the machines. A similar effort by Microsoft to offer a version of Windows running on ARM chips for tablet computers failed after the devices didn’t catch on with consumers.

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