Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has said he hopes arch-rival Apple develops a Metro-style iTunes app for Windows 8, telling analysts that his company would “welcome” software support from device competitors. Ballmer specifically name-checked Apple and Amazon during the Q&A call, suggesting that although with Kindle and the upcoming Android-based Kindle tablet “they may have a device competitor, but they have certainly behaved like their fundamental business is the service.”
Similarly, Apple might be competing with OS X and iOS, but Ballmer draws a distinction between the iTunes ecosystem that serves iPods, iPads, iPhones and Macs with digital media, and the hardware itself. Apple of course already offers an iTunes version for Windows, though it’s unclear whether the company will also develop a Metro version that fits into Microsoft’s new touch-centric interface in Windows 8.
“Amazon is an example. They may have a device competitor, but they have certainly behaved like their fundamental business is the service. They’ve done a lot to try to have good support of other folks’ device. We welcome them. We’d welcome Metro-style apps from Amazon. We’d welcome Metro- style applications from Apple in the iTunes case. I don’t know what we’d see there but we’d certainly welcome those. And, because of compatibility, there’s certainly a path forward for everybody” Steve Ballmer, CEO, Microsoft
That could prove to be a sticking point for Windows 8 hardware running on ARM chipsets, since Microsoft has also confirmed that x86 Windows 7/8 software won’t be compatible with its version of the OS for ARM processors like Tegra 3. Considering the majority of ARM-based devices running Windows 8 are expected to be tablets, Apple could well decide that they step too closely to its own iPad range, and opt out of releasing a specific ARM build.