Windows on ARM = Netbook Revival?


Back in 2009, I had an Asus EeePC 900A, running Eeebuntu. It was an amazingly portable, little laptop. It wasn’t a powerful laptop, by any stretch. It’s portability, well made up for it. You could fit the EeePC in a glove box or a purse even.

Above the Asus EeePC 900

Many netbooks back then, were pretty awful for typing on, and many weren’t good for a lot of things. Especially due to their small screens, cramped keyboards, tiny track pads, and slow atom processors.

However, there were very good netbooks, like the Thinkpad X120E, and the later Asus EeePCs, that improved upon many things.

Above: ThinkPad X120e

Now, with the new Windows on ARM laptops coming out, that offer 20 hours of battery. Also, ‘always on’ technology, like we have in our smartphones. Could netbooks make a successful comeback? Would you buy a modern ARM based netbook?

What do you think?

Comments (12)

12 responses to “Windows on ARM = Netbook Revival?”

  1. seapea

    I would IF the keyboard met my needs.

    I have a netbook that I was able to install (unforced) the premier version of W10 on. Sill bring it out once in a while, especially useful if i just want to RDP into a pc.

  2. arunphilip

    A big appeal of netbooks was their price as well - around the $200 mark, IIRC. These ARM-based devices are coming at twice that price.

    I'd like to see real-world performance of UWP apps on ARM vs. Intel Atom/Pentium, as well as performance of x86 apps, before judging whether the price increase is justified.

    Back at the tail end of the decade, CPU performance of netbooks was dire. However, that was masked in part due to the prevalence of HDD storage in netbooks. In today's flash-based world, CPU performance bottlenecks become more apparent.

    Edit - to clarify, I do understand that neither Microsoft nor Qualcomm are pitching these as entry-level/cheap options, so they are priced differently, and with (hopefully) better build quality.

  3. Locust Infested Orchard Inc.

    Since learning of the price for the newly announced Windows on ARM laptops, it makes little sense to purchase a non-x86 laptop at such a price as there shall be a performance hit due to emulation. However it would be notable if any manufacturer have any intention of releasing ~6" Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 devices built with Windows on ARM. Devices embedded with the Snapdragon 845 SoC shall be the flagship devices of 2018.

    As far as netbook revival is concerned, I am of the opinion it will be the AMD Ryzen Mobility 15W platform (Ryzen with Radeon Vega Graphics and Gigabit LTE modem by Snapdragon), announced at Qualcomm Snapdragon Technology 2017 Summit in Hawaii that will annihilate Intel's eight generation 15W Coffee Lake laptops, as the Ryzen Mobility totally outperforms and outclasses Intel's offerings.

  4. Tony Barrett

    I'm assuming MS actually have a plan, and aren't just throwing things at a wall again, but what are they really hoping to achieve with Windows on ARM? Is it a big push for Win10S? An effort to remove their reliance on Intel/x86? A boost for their app store in the hope that their next ARM mobile effort actually has some useful ARM apps that would also run natively on Windows as well? RT failed. WM failed. Why would this succeed?

    With everything else MS are doing at the moment, it just seems to me their hedging their bets across as much of the industry as possible. Making sure their services run on everything, introducing hardware on all architectures and making sure Windows runs on all the main chipsets, which essentially, is throwing things at a wall. Something's got to stick I guess. Possibly.

    • FalseAgent

      In reply to ghostrider:

      I think what Microsoft wants to achieve is Windows machines with 20 hours of battery life with decent performance. Things like the Surface Go get neither good performance or good battery life, and that's supposedly Intel's best offering. It's not good enough. Big things like the OS, the browser, and some store apps are all already native or going to be native. Other win32 apps run via emulation, and the emulation is good enough for things like a word processor. These are all key differences from what Microsoft tried with RT, WM, 10S.

  5. Oasis

    I have a copy of that EeePC900a sitting on my coffee table along with a 2009 Viao and a 2012 MacBookPro. That one is running Puppy Linux 5.28 and has a 4GB soldered in SSD. What is the footprint of W10S? Certainly wouldn't fit on 4GB, It does have an SD card Slot.

  6. germdy

    Anyone knows if Windows 10 for ARM will be available for Surface 2 RT?

    • Locust Infested Orchard Inc.

      In reply to germdy:

      Most likely not, because Windows on ARM is adapted specifically for Qualcomm Snapdragon SoC, whilst Surface 2 RT possessed a Nvidia Tegra 4 ARM SoC.

      Besides, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 and 845 SoC are the only two ARM SoCs currently that have been accommodated specifically for Windows on ARM, over the past year or so.

    • rob_segal

      In reply to germdy:

      I highly, very highly doubt Microsoft will release it for Surface 2 RT.

  7. proesterchen

    Are you trying to incite nightmares in those of us who actually used these abominations?

  8. illuminated

    Intel CPUs really sucked at that time. Netbooks were the best we could have with 4 hours of battery life at most.

    Nowadays surface pro beats old netbooks in performance, battery life and pretty much everything else. If ARM can get the same performance and better battery life then cool. If not then surface pro and phone is all I need.