Microsoft is working on a version of its core Windows operating system for devices such as tablets, according to reports.
The software giant plans to unveil a version of its operating system that runs for the first time on processors designed by UK-based ARM, the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg reported.
Microsoft licensed the ARM architecture for the first time this summer, a move that PC Pro speculated at the time could lead to Windows support for ARM processors.
The switch could give Microsoft a fighting chance in its bid to catch up in the tablet arena, which is currently dominated by Apple's iPad.
ARM's processors dominate the tablet and handheld device market, but have previously been a closed door to Microsoft, which has until now used the "x86" designs favoured by Intel.
It was unclear when such an operating system might come to market, but the reports suggested early versions might be unveiled at next month's CES technology show.
According to the sources cited by the WSJ, the effort is part of a wider push from Microsoft aimed at making Windows more modular.
The new design would make certain pieces of the operating system unnecessary for smaller, low-power devices like tablets, with a stripped-down version running more quickly on mobile devices.
Microsoft and ARM declined to comment.
Meanwhile, Microsoft said its Windows Phone 7 software was making headway in the booming smartphone market.
According to Microsoft, more than 1.5 million handsets running Windows Phone 7 had sold in the first six weeks following launch, meeting what the company called "realistic" expectations.
The sales numbers were disclosed for the first time by Achim Berg, vice president of business and marketing for Windows phones.
Industry forecasts have predicted 25 million Phone 7 sales next year, compared with Apple, which is expected to sell more than 60 million iPhones in 2011.
"We all know that the competition is extreme in this industry, and we have to compete on multiple fronts," Berg said. "We are on a path to begin releasing the first of several updates in the next couple of months, and several more mobile operators around the world will introduce Windows Phone 7 on their network in 2011."
Return to microsoft news headlines
View Microsoft News Archive