Thursday, 8 December 2016

Microsoft And Qualcomm Bring Windows 10 To ARM


Leaks recently told us that Microsoft would be delivering a Win32 emulator for its mobile devices but to day at WinHEC it unveiled Windows 10 on ARM. Windows 10 (not the Mobile version) will run natively on mobile processors - with a technical demonstration on the Snapdragon 820 - with full support for running legacy apps designed for x86 architecture via the emulator.

Microsoft is completing the vision that started off as Windows RT, but this time with sufficient power for real Windows functionality on a mobile device.

That introduces a real challenge for Intel, which recently canned its entry-level mobile Atom processor and pushes OEMs to an Intel Core m Y-series processor if they want performance and power management. The Snapdragon 835, where the first Windows 10 ARM versions are likely to land, will allow those OEMs to build cheaper Windows 10 tablets and hybrids with smaller batteries (and hence less weight).

That means devices like the Samsung Galaxy TabPro S and Huawei Mate Book can be lighter, faster and offer a better software library than the iPad.

The rumoured Surface Phone may well be the very first device to benefit from this new capability - although now promising were made on form factors. Nevertheless a phone that really can replace your PC - the combination of Windows 10 ARM and Continuum begins to make a pretty interesting proposition.

So the slow, painful death of Windows 10 Mobile makes more sense with this in mind. Take the HP Elite x3 three in one proposition and you have a phone that really can be your only device.

I'm still hesitant to say that consumers will flock to this new concept (as they certainly would if it were coming from Apple) but at least Microsoft and its partners will be able to offer a choice in the mobile workspace when Redstone 3 arrives.

Whilst Windows 10 is going to suffer some performance shortfalls running on a Snapdragon processor its unlikely to be long before ARM processors overtake classic x86 chips in performance. Intel's recent licensing agreement for ARM technology suggests that it is going to right on board for this change when it arrives, possibly as soon as late 2017.

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