What does Apples dropping of Intel processors mean for Windows/Microsoft/Surface

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Brad, Paul, anyone, do you think Apple dropping Intel will have any effect on Intels and Microsofts relationship and products? Will things improve now? Is Apple dropping Intel good for Microsoft?

Comments (28)

28 responses to “What does Apples dropping of Intel processors mean for Windows/Microsoft/Surface”

  1. Dan1986ist

    Microsoft products on the Mac date back to the 1980s, right? And Apple has gone from the 68k processor to PowerPC and from PowerPC to Intel. As for Intel to Apple's own CPU, I think there will be a transition period where those developers who target Apple will be able transition from Intel based Macs to the newer ones without Intel CPUs. this isn't Microsoft's and Apple's first rodeo when it comes changing the cpu used in Apple's hardware.

  2. offTheRecord

    Just imagine how galling it would be for Microsoft if Apple were able to make a go of "Mac RT."

  3. Dick O'Rosary

    This will force developers to seriously consider making their app more easily portable across architectures and not to put all their eggs in the Intel basket by optimizing their apps solely for x86.

    • wright_is

      In reply to Dick_O_Rosary:

      Few do that today, most use high level languages, which just target a processor at compile time.

      Some bits of Excel's functions were written in assembler, but I'm not sure how much. That was one of the problems getting Excel on Mac from PowerPC to Intel, the functions had to be re-written, away from PowerPC assembler.

      There are some things you can do, even in high level code, that optimize better, but most younger programmers I've met over the last 15 years have no idea about optimization for processor performance.

  4. Lauren Glenn

    As far as their relationship, I don't think MS would care though. MS has so much of the marketplace and I bet you can have a VM and emulation to get x86/x64 running in it. If anything, it would probably get less traffic to the Mac side for users. I wouldn't want to buy a laptop with limited marketplace for devices and products I'd want to use when I can't dual boot into Windows so I don't need two laptops. If that's the case, I might as well just buy a PC laptop only. It's like when I tried to go to Linux. Everything doesn't work as I like without my getting deep into the system to the point where I just say, "it's not worth this effort when it will just install in Windows with no problems and probably run faster."


  5. Nicholas Kathrein

    How does this affect MS?


    From a processor perspective that all depends on what Apple is able to do. If they can build their Arm chips to be faster than Intel's while having the battery last 4 or more hrs longer than a comparable Intel system then Apple will have a clear advantage to why their laptops and portable devices are better than the PC side. Apple will most likely stick MacOS ,the way it is today, on the MacPro and maybe the iMac Pro. I could image Apple having Arm chips in all portables and iMacs with a version of iOS which has another 2 years of updates that function like MacOS but has a way better/newer iOS system which also includes tons of apps and developers to make apps on board.


    In that world Apple has a clear advantage unless you're talking about playing AAA games or want to spend a lot less $$ for doing the same things Apple will only do on the iMac Pro and Mac Pro. Also the Arm chips Apple use have very good GPU's meaning their graphics performance will be closer to having a discrete gpu in their portable devices so that would also be an advantage over Intel processors unless they have their GPU tech much better than now or are using AMD GPUs which drives up the cost.


    I know we're not talking Google here but by 2020 they may have their new OS ready which is all brand new from the ground up. That will run on Arm and x86. Apple has a 2 year lead on Qualcom for Arm Chip designs so unless Google gets into designing arm chips anyone not Apple will always be behind Apple in raw processor speed when it comes to Arm chips.

  6. wunderbar

    a 12" Macbook that runs the MacOS shell/core OS and runs iPad apps would be a pretty great mobile machine in the Apple world. I think that that's likely where this ARM thing goes for Apple.

  7. Hassan Timité

    Apart from Windows on ARM, i don't think that it would mean anything for Microsoft.

    This said Apple is perhaps doing right what Microsoft is doing Wrong.

    Not using a heavily customized chip instead of a basic Snapdragon 835 for Windows on Arm is wrong according to me.

    A snapdragon 835 is way too underpowered to correctly emulate x86 apps.

    Microsof could have funded the devolpment by Qualcomm of a much more powerful chip wich would be also power efficient.


    • skane2600

      In reply to Hassan_Timite:

      Gee, Apple hasn't even cooked up a fake demo of MacOS programs running on ARM yet. :)


      I think it's quite premature to assume that Apple's emulation will succeed where Microsoft's has apparently failed. Besides, at this point Mac on ARM is in the same category as the Surface Phone was a few years ago - just speculation.

      • Hassan Timité

        In reply to skane2600:

        Off course, but seing how the A11 outperforms the Snapdragon 835 and even 845, a custom chip tailored for the task would have given way better results out of the box.

        And if Apple is already using custom chip for Iphones and Ipads, i don't see why they won't used an even more customized/optimized chips tailored for laptops.

        This said and where i fully agree with you is that it is not sure that their emulation is any better than the Microsoft emulation.

        • skane2600

          In reply to Hassan_Timite:

          Qualcomm like, Apple, has both ARM architectural licenses and ARM core licenses. So both have delivered core products and architectural (custom) products. It's not clear if a custom ARM chip created by Apple would outperform a custom ARM chip created by Qualcomm (or some other company) even if used within a Apple product.

  8. F4IL

    I believe it will negatively impact msft's endeavors into the ARM laptop market. Apple have a significantly faster chip, a rich ecosystem - device interop and an army of devoted developers that will most likely rewrite their apps as native ARM binaries and sell them on the appstore.

  9. ChristopherCollins

    I am highly interested to see where the A(x) architecture goes. It would be interesting to see one in a full laptop with a proper cooler. I would imagine it could sustain very high clock speeds. I'm just curious to see how it performs when upclocked.


    What Microsoft and Apple are doing with ARM is so good for us. Intel has been half assing for a decade due to lack of competition from AMD. It's easy to tell, as everytime AMD does put out a good chip, Intel magically announces a new processor that they could have given us years ago.

  10. skane2600

    With the transition so far away and the information Apple provided so vague, who knows? I don't know if Office on the Mac is actually cash positive for Microsoft, or whether they continued to support it to stave off anti-trust charges or to maintain goodwill. If it doesn't make money, this could be a great excuse for letting it die.

  11. Paul Thurrott

    This was inevitable given Apple's history of screwing over its partners in turn.

    More to the point, Microsoft got there first when it ported Windows to ARM, first with RT and then more recently with Windows 10.

    Perhaps this will further prod Intel to figure out mobile (standby/battery life).

    • TEAMSWITCHER

      In reply to paul-thurrott:

       "Microsoft got there first when it ported Windows to ARM"


      We have now come full circle... Equating the success (in reality an "utter failure") of Windows on ARM to the iOS ecosystem of products is very funny, like comparing Mac OS 8 to Windows 98.


      Apple is set to completely disrupt the ENTIRE PATHETIC PC INDUSTRY. Intel's fatal flaw is that they don't make devices ... they make components. If people choose devices that do not have Intel products in them ... Intel is screwed. If you think that can't happen .. then you're completely ignoring what happened with the smart phone Industry.

    • navarac

      In reply to paul-thurrott:

      I don't know how you can justify saying RT was a porting of Windows onto ARM, Paul. RT was as useless as a doorstop with the lacklustre Store, which hasn't improved much to date, really. It was a poor iteration of Windows.

    • longhorn

      In reply to paul-thurrott:

      Here's how you recreate the "Android dumpster fire experience":

      ---Target many hardware architectures---

      A mediocre experience is more or less guaranteed. Only good thing coming from ARM (relating to Mac/Windows) is some pressure on Intel. Of course ARM battery life is great, but you lose the ability to use PC programs in a meaningful way.


      If Apple is serious about this then I feel sorry for Mac enthusiasts. Going from x86 to ARM is harder than going from PowerPC to x86. You are dealing with a reduced instruction set. Mac users can now look forward to stupid mobile apps. I'm sure Mac users are eagerly awaiting Candy Crush Saga...


      "ARM, previously Advanced RISC Machine is a family of reduced instruction set computing (RISC) architectures for computer processors."


    • skane2600

      In reply to paul-thurrott:

      Depending on how things turn out, Apple might learn the lesson that rushing into a change because the competition is doing it without knowing how successful it might be, is a mistake.

  12. jimchamplin

    Another equally likely scenario is that Apple may license and design their own x86 silicon. They know that ARM, even their A-Series isn’t going to have the same power... but an Apple-designed x86 part could merge their magic with the best parts of Intel.

    • Lauren Glenn

      In reply to jimchamplin:

      Apple can't even get iOS to be completely bug free. So naturally, they said, let's port everything to our own CPUs.

    • joeparis

      In reply to jimchamplin:

      I think it very unlikely Apple would license their designs to anyone for any reason regardless of their specs or performance. As a company they don't tend to play well with others.

    • skane2600

      In reply to jimchamplin:

      It seems unlikely that Apple is going to make a better X86 than Intel on their first try. Apple "magic"? Sorry the reality distortion field only works on people, not hardware.

      • MikeGalos

        In reply to skane2600:

        They almost certainly won't make an x86 clone that's better than the Intel original at all for general purpose use. What they can do is make an x86 clone that's got some onboard optimization for their other proprietary tech. That gives them Intel compatibility along with a "reason" (besides lock-in) to talk about at the keynote where they'll present those as "innovations" like they turned dark gray into "Space Gray" and high-resolution into "Retina" and got their fans and the press acting as though marketing names were actual differences.

        • skane2600

          In reply to MikeGalos:

          You may be right although the x86 architecture wasn't really designed for that sort of integration/customization the way the ARM architecture or even the venerable 8051's was (8051 variants are still in use after 38 years).


          But as you say, it would probably be more of a marketing effort than a technical one. There's precedent: Apple claimed a few years ago that they were the first ones to integrate all the functions of a computer in a single chip despite the fact that there were decades of prior art.

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