Windows 10X – the better Windows option for ARM PC’s?


I think if Microsoft doesn’t go this route, ARM for Windows is just dead. The cost of Windows 10 ARM PC’s is too high, the performance too low for the cost, while compatibility is still not great. Bringing up lower-cost ARM PC’s to run Windows 10X seems like the logical way to combat Chromebooks if this is Microsoft’s target market. They should be able to guarantee a fast, possibly fanless system not bogged down by Win32 legacy, and provide long battery life for the education market. They can add the Win32 compatibility container later for real x86 PC software compatibility.

Comments (26)

26 responses to “Windows 10X – the better Windows option for ARM PC’s?”

  1. SWCetacean

    Windows 10X would probably be a good fit for those Snapdragon 7c and 8c devices that were announced for the education market. Given that the 8cx already struggles to emulate x86 programs, the 7c and 8c would fare even worse, so a locked-down web-app-based platform would at least guarantee that users are using an Arm64 browser (Edge) for at decent performance. Plus, I did a bit of IT work for a school district and the inability of users (e.g. students) to install other Win32 programs is probably a good thing.

  2. longhorn

    I think Microsoft has long been trying to transfer the Windows brand to a system that can't run Win32 natively (aka Windows applications). This started with Windows RT and then we had S/S-mode, WoA, 10X.

    I don't expect 10X to be the last attempt although 10X might serve as a foundation for future versions. It doesn't make sense to run Win32 in a virtual machine or with emulation, because it will just make the system heavier and slower than Windows x64. Then Win32 application streaming makes more sense.

    Despite all their might I'm not sure Microsoft will be able to transfer users to a Windows system that can't run Win32 natively. Such a system would have a very limited pool of potential users. Just look at Chrome OS. Unfortunately Netmarketshare is down and Statcounter has Chrome OS at a "decent" level, but we clearly see that a Chrome OS version of Windows wouldn't be able to compete with Windows x64.

    (For every Chrome OS user there are roughly 45 Windows users according to Statcounter "Chrome OS friendly" numbers. Netmarketshare used to be a lot worse for Chrome OS.)

    Reasons for this include that the bulk of Windows users are business users (including home office users). Then we have gamers and creatives and other professionals that simply need more than a limited version of "Windows" offers.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to longhorn:

      Then Win32 application streaming makes more sense.

      Reliable high speed networking may have to become more universal for streaming to become dead obvious, but it would seem to be inevitable in the long-term. The problem for MSFT would then be that their online app streaming service would be valuable, but their local client OS no longer worth even US$5.00. MSFT ain't gonna like their Windows revenue stream drying up, so I figure they're going to delay the inevitable for as long as they possibly can.

      Windows applications running remotely on application servers with I/O going through Citrix Receiver works the same under Windows, Linux and Chrome OS. Probably also under macOS, but I've never tried. If one's running ALL one's Win32 software remotely, why would one need/want any version of Windows running locally? For all the wonderful apps in the MSFT Store?

    • F4IL

      In reply to longhorn:

      This is the problem in a nutshell. Calling the product Windows (XYZ) introduces certain assumptions one of which is backwards compatibility with everything that entails. Unless Windows 10X stands on a new stack—new filesystem, containerization, new frameworks, APIs, etc—people will perceive it as a crippled version of the full-fat SKU and at that point they might as well go use something else that actually delivers on the original promises.

      That said, things are a bit better this time around because they use chromium, but then again so does chromeOS.

  3. peterc

    I think Samsung will have a field day with Win10X and its own chip manufacturing.... i'm expecting some leading edge designs, price points and chips too.

  4. SocialDanny123

    The most you'll see ARM PCs with Windows 10X is in the business and education space. With Windows Virtual desktop launching with Windows 10X, it shouldn't be an issue for ARM PCs.

  5. anoldamigauser

    I think the problem is that ARM processors, at least those from Qualcomm, and to be clear, WoA is really Windows on Qualcomm, are not cheap. Not many $1000+ Chromebooks were sold, and I do not see that changing for Windows 10X. The upper end for these machines is going to be a Core i5 with 8GB of RAM and an SSD (Surface Laptop Go), and will be coming in around $5-600 The low end is going to be Pentium Gold with 4GB costing around $2-300.

    They are all likely to have Intel or AMD processors, since a stated goal is to add Win32 compatibility. Granted, they are doing that in WoA but it will be a lot easier on an x64 chip, and will not have the same performance penalty.

  6. shark47

    I actually see them doing it in the future. If the performance is good (which is likely) then this is a good option for people who use other MS software like Office, Teams, etc. Heck, if was able to, I'd switch the OS on my old PC to Windows 10X to extend its life.

  7. hrlngrv

    What value is there TO PC BUYERS from PCs running an OS with Windows in its name which can't run Win32 software? Do PC users care about what type of processor they're using, or do they care about battery life AND which application software they can run?

    Why exactly would Windows 10X on ARM be more successful than Windows RT or Windows 10 S [Mode]? Who in their right minds would buy a PC running Windows 10X without a WRITTEN GUARANTEE from MSFT that their PC would be upgraded to the later version of Windows 10X with a Win32 subsystem? Even if they had such a guarantee, who'd want to be a guinea pig user of the original version with no Win32 support? Why not wait for real Windows?

    • codymesh

      In reply to hrlngrv:

      because some buyers - like chromebook users - don't see "Windows" as value. They see it as bloated, annoying poison.

      • hrlngrv

        In reply to codymesh:

        Raising the question whether Windows 10X is still bloated compared to Chrome OS.

        The deciding factor for buyers would be needing to use a MSFT account vs a Gmail account.

    • james.h.robinson

      In reply to hrlngrv:

      If it doesn't look like Windows and doesn't run Win32 apps, then it should NOT be called Windows. Microsoft should have learned this from Apple years ago.

    • SWCetacean

      In reply to hrlngrv:

      The school district I was working in was seriously considering deploying Windows RT tablets for students. The main obstacle to deployment was the lack of central management software for Windows RT. If Group Policy had been enabled in Windows RT, the district would have gone forward with its deployment.

      The incompatibility of Windows 10X with regular Win32 software is not a problem in education environments below the university level. Incompatibility simply means that smart-ass kids can't go around installing whatever on the machines. Plus, given that Chromebooks have gained a large education market share in the past decade (at least in the US), many US schools have moved to web-based classroom solutions, so there's no need to install local Win32 software anyways; everything is browser-based. Given that the target market for Windows 10X is currently using Chromebooks, that market already has no need for Win32 software.

      • hrlngrv

        In reply to SWCetacean:

        Los Angeles USD went big on iPads and came to regret that choice within a year, I figure Windows RT tablets would have been worse due to far fewer apps than for iPads.

        For education the key point is manageability. Didn't MSFT introduce new management tools when the introduced Windows 10 S? That hasn't driven off Chrome OS. Why not?

        Anyway, Chrome OS isn't used exclusively in schools. For consumers, it has more value than Windows 10X except for those who can't stand Google. For schools and the few businesses which use Chrome OS machines as kiosks (e,g, Charles Schwab), Windows 10X would need to be as trouble-free updating and as inexpensive to manage. Not yet proven.

      • anoldamigauser

        In reply to SWCetacean:

        The main obstacle was central management? What about performance? I still have an original Surface RT and even when it was new the performance was terrible. The other issue is that management is no better than Windows, and patching, again, when new, was a multi-hour issue.

        • SWCetacean

          In reply to AnOldAmigaUser:

          I had several Windows RT tablets, and the performance on them was not much slower in everyday tasks than the computers at the school I worked at. I don't think any computers at the school had an Intel i-series processor back in 2013. Most desktops had Core 2 Duo processors, and many of the older machines had Pentium 4s. But these tablets would only have been used for web research and typing up Word documents and Powerpoint presentations, so as long as you could do those things, performance was a secondary consideration. And patching could be done overnight, or over the weekend when students were not in school.

          I only worked at the school briefly, but I think they went with iPads for the elementary school and Chromebooks for middle and high school a few years later. Some PCs remained in the library, and the art classrooms had Macs.

      • wright_is

        In reply to SWCetacean:

        Compatibility for education is different district by district. Some still use DOS or Win32 Software, some use Macs, others iPad and others some government created Web platform (i'm talking about Germany here).

        I agree with the rest of your comment.

    • waethorn

      In reply to hrlngrv:

      Did you even listen to the latest podcasts? Windows 10X is a Chromebook competitor destined for schools.

      • hrlngrv

        In reply to Waethorn:

        As a Chrome OS competitor, would Windows 10X licenses be no more expensive than Chrome OS? Can Windows 10X work on SSDs with less than 64GB? If not, wouldn't Windows 10X always incur higher baseline cost than Chrome OS at the low end?

        If Windows 10X is meant to be a Chrome OS competitor, what does it offer that Chrome OS doesn't? Obviously not floating, overlapable windows. Is there as rich a set of offline apps in the MSFT store as there is in the Chrome Store?

        OTOH, isn't it a risk to call it Windows if it doesn't run Win32 software? Flip side, if the plan is eventual support for Win32 software in a future version, isn't it relevant to ask whether buyers of machines with Version 1 would find themselves out in the cold like buyers of Windows Phone 7 hansets when Windows Phone 8 was released?

        • wright_is

          In reply to hrlngrv:
          Can Windows 10X work on SSDs with less than 64GB? If not, wouldn't Windows 10X always incur higher baseline cost than Chrome OS at the low end?

          In Germany, a Core i3 128GB SSD Windows laptop has generally (last 5 years) been cheaper than a Pentium Chromebook. Heck, the Samsung ARM Chromebook was nearly 800€ over here!

          • hrlngrv

            In reply to wright_is:

            Then there's some seriously anti-competitive shenanigans going on in Germany's computer market. FWLIW, in the US, Newegg shows 36 new Chromebooks available with 14-14.5 inch screens and 4GB RAM for under US$400. Amazon shows 292 but with 14-14.9 inch screens.

            Perhaps German demand is extremely low but extremely inelastic, so competitive market prices would be close to monopolistic prices; however, I figure the odds of that are more remote than intentional anti-competitive decisions made by PC vendors and perhaps also the German government.

            • wright_is

              In reply to hrlngrv:

              I think I've only seen 1 Chromebook (around 2014) reach the top-50 in Amazon's laptop sales list (for Germany) and only 3 in the top 100.

              The biggest problem is that many Germans are into privacy and won't share things online and a lot still use Firefox, not Chrome, because it isn't collecting data for the Chocolate Factory.

              With the collapse of Safe Habour and Privacy Shield, cloud based OSes are even less compelling. Add to that the costs of localising to German language and a German keyboard and it probably isn't economical to produce German Chromebooks.

              Certainly Google has never sold any Chromebooks here - either its own brand or third party ones. If you go to the Google Store, they list Nest, smarthome and smartphones, but no information on Chromebooks, let alone products.

              • hrlngrv

                In reply to wright_is:

                The now-standard Chromebook keyboards suck, and are the main reason I'll never buy another Chromebook. If they could have just one more key, maybe labeled [Fn] or [G], it'd be elementary to use xmodmap (behind the scenes, of course) to remap [G]+a to ä, [G]+s to ß, etc.

      • Greg Green

        In reply to Waethorn:

        Then it shouldn't be called Windows, let alone Windows 10. It's a different OS and should have a distinctly different name. Failing to recognize that caused the death of WinRT. That and the unpopularity of the Windows brand.