ARM-Based Always-Connected Windows 10 PCs Approach the Finish Line

Posted on September 7, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Hardware, Mobile, Windows 10 with 81 Comments

ARM-Based Always-Connected Windows 10 PCs Approach the Finish Line

Microsoft is claiming this week that its hardware partners are “on track” to deliver the first ARM-based Always Connected PCs by the end of the year. Like many of you, I’m looking forward to this. And I’m curious to see how—or even if—Qualcomm can shake up the PC industry.

So what’s happening here? There seems to be a lot of misinformation—or at least misunderstand—around these two separate but related pushes.

As you may recall, Microsoft announced last December that it was partnering with mobile chip-making giant Qualcomm to port Windows 10 to the ARM platform that powers most smartphones and tablets. This isn’t another halfhearted port like Windows RT or Windows Mobile, however. It’s “full” Windows 10, including compatibility with (Intel-based) the Windows desktop applications that customers actually need.

The Qualcomm partnership is two-fold.

First, Qualcomm provides the leading ARM designs today, and Windows 10 is specifically being ported to the high-end Snapdragon 835 chipset, which has been shipping for months on various flagship Android handsets. That chipset is powerful enough to run the x86 emulation software that makes Windows desktop application compatibility possible.

Second, Qualcomm is the only ARM chipmaker that is big enough and powerful enough to offer a counter to Intel. This is important to Microsoft because AMD, despite a nice Ryzen push this year, has effectively disappeared from the market and no longer offers effective competition to Intel, a slow-moving behemoth that won’t innovate unless pushed. This is key to Microsoft, as it needs Windows 10 running on modern, reliable, highly-connected, and very portable hardware; that is not Intel’s strong suit.

We’ve only seen a handful of Windows 10 on ARM demos since that initial announcement. And we’ll need to collectively test a variety of hardware devices—ASUS, HP, and Lenovo are among the PC makers on board here—to see whether Microsoft’s promises are true. That is, will ARM-based Windows 10 PCs deliver the performance—especially with x86 desktop apps—that users expect from PCs and the battery life they expect from modern mobile devices? That’s an open question.

So let’s get to the misunderstandings. There are a few.

First, Microsoft is not making one or more new Windows product versions, or SKUs, that specifically target ARM. Instead, it has specifically said that it will port Windows 10 Home, Pro, and Enterprise to the platform. (This was last December, and the firm has since announced Windows 10 S, which will also be ported to ARM.) In other words, Windows 10 is Windows 10. And when you run, say, Windows 10 Pro on ARM, you get exactly the same capabilities as you when you run Windows 10 Pro on an x86 PC. Because it’s the same product. Boring, right?

Second, Microsoft in May announced something called the Always Connected PC initiative, which establishes a new class of portable PCs that include Embedded SIM (eSIM) capabilities for universal compatibility with cellular data systems worldwide. This initiative has been incorrectly tied to ARM by many because, after all, ARM chipsets—like the Snapdragon 835—do include integrated cellular data chips. It’s a natural fit.

Well, don’t be fooled by that: You will, in fact, be able to buy Always Connected PCs that run on both Intel and Qualcomm platforms. And there is a longer list of PC makers—ASUS, Dell, HP, Huawei, Lenovo, VAIO, and Xiaomi—that are known to be building Intel-based Always Connected PCs. You’ll have more choice on Intel than on ARM. Especially at first.

But there is a related issue to consider. It is Qualcomm, and not Intel, that has the expertise in this area. It’s mobile chipsets have offered integrated cellular data connectivity for years, after all. And more to the point, many PC makers—including Dell, HP, Fujitsu, Lenovo, Toshiba, Panasonic, and, wait for it, Microsoft—already offer Qualcomm cellular modems in their PCs. Because they’re the best in the business.

But the Snapdragon 835 still has the edge from a connectivity standpoint. Not only is this platform more efficient than anything Intel offers, but its cellular modem technology is better, too: The Snapdragon 835 features the Snapdragon X16 LTE modem, which supports Gigabit LTE for download speeds of up to 1 Gbps (1000 Mbps).

“That’s three to seven times faster than the average U.S. broadband speed,” Qualcomm says. “The Snapdragon X16 modem is designed to support an ‘Always Connected’ Internet experience that’s faster than most Wi-Fi networks in homes and offices.”

Can that type of connectivity speeds overcome any of the presumed slowness of emulated x86 code? Will these ARM-based Always Connected PCs deliver battery life that exceeds, hopefully dramatically, that of their Intel-based competition?

I cannot wait to find out.

 

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Comments (86)

86 responses to “ARM-Based Always-Connected Windows 10 PCs Approach the Finish Line”

  1. Ugur

    I only see a chance for these devices if a) they actually run all desktop software well (including desktop apps and games) and on top b) the devices are of as high or higher quality compared to intel laptops while c) costing way less than comparable quality intel laptops.

    Because, really, i totally get why MS and partners would maybe like to push ARM devices, but if those points are not all met, there would be few reason for customers to buy into it.

    I'm not convinced there will be great battery life savings in actual real life usage when one uses emulated desktop apps.

    I'm sure they will tout awesome battery life savings when one uses very few specific apps optimized for running on ARM or made for ARM in first place, but for any emulated regular desktop app, i'll believe it runs at less battery usage in ARM emulation when i see it.


    I should also add that i'm also not convinced of integrated sims at all right now. While in theory they sound great, in actual implementation they have been horrible so far. See the few devices where they have been used so far where pretty much in all cases the carriers then tied your device down to them and had convoluted ways to allow you to just use the device with another carrier (or already them).

    They have to get it going in a way where one can instantly switch to another provider without having to call a service hotline or similar nonsense, else it will be heavily rejected.


    So yeah, this could be great, but it could also become quite the train wreck, so they'll have to deliver something quite convincing to make the deserved doubts go away.

  2. MutualCore

    What does faster modem have to do with slow emulation of x86 instructions on the local device? One thing has nothing to do with the other thing.

    • karlinhigh

      In reply to MutualCore:

      In my experience, "slow" can mean about seven different things depending on context. In one business owner's case, "slow" meant inefficient user interface lowering data entry productivity. My understanding of the question is, "Can instant Internet load times (click... BANG, done) overcome the performance hit of emulated code? (Am I waiting for the device, or is the device waiting for me?)

  3. Chris_Kez

    I'm surprised there wasn't more discussion about ARM-based PCs or the Always Connected PC initiative during IFA. Maybe we'll hear more at Ignite in a few weeks? Is it possible Microsoft would partner with Qualcomm or Intel and other OEM's to have a separate event? Or is this just going to slowly roll out via a series of blog posts and individual product launches from OEMs? The latter might be more in keeping with Microsoft's new soft roll-out strategy for software.

  4. MutualCore

    From what rumors I've heard, Windows on ARM support isn't coming until 2018. Redstone 4 or 5.

  5. Roger Ramjet

    One point to consider here is that the availability of ARM will lead Microsoft to want to innovate form factors. So thinking of these as laptops or PCs, replacement vs. Intel (i.e. what is my trade off of speed/power/battery/ etc ) probably does not capture the heart of Microsoft's thinking; it would not be much good to Microsoft or their OEM partners if all that happens is people buy 1 ARM PC instead of buying 1 x86 PC.

    It is probably more likely that Microsoft is looking to push the competitiveness of Windows further down, and into diversity of devices that would occupy various interesting, and sometimes new niches, not as anything directly alternative to x86 PCs. We have already seen such approach with Surface, even using just x86 chips.

    In this scenario the most obvious targets are lighter tablets vs. (non-pro) iPad, and the Android horde, then I also think they are looking for some space between tablets and phones. Whether that space exists remains to be seen, I think iPad mini and others basically failed so far. There are also things that are not so obvious. You could have crippled devices for example, that are allowed to run only 1 or a few apps (similar to e-readers). That kind of approach is especially useful given the expected weakness of the ARM based systems in initial speed for many apps on first run (if there aren't many apps on the device that weakness becomes deminimus). So you can imagine Microsoft trying to fit these in certain Enterprise use situations for example, point of sale systems. But let's see the various toaster-refrigerators Microsoft will come up with based on their Surface design, Win10+Cellular PC.

  6. Bill Russell

    "Because it’s the same product. Boring, right?"


    Ok, well I'll plan on buying an ARM one, so I can maybe save some power, since why run power hungry x86 machine if there's no difference, assuming I get the "beefy" ARM model. Then I can run maybe more efficiently my needed "legacy" work programs Atmel Studio, Keil uVision, Orcad, Solidworks, Android studio, Pro tools, Adobe Premier Pro and Qt creator. I'd better be bored, Paul. ;)

  7. WaltC

    Why anyone on the face of the Earth might be in the "I cannot wait to be thoroughly underwhelmed and overcharged" by ARM-based, "always on" PCs is totally beyond me. "Always on"? Is that some sort of loony marketing slogan now? Gaaaa! And what is meant in this term by "PC"--YACP? Yet Another Cell Phone (that thinks it's a PC.) Sounds like a complete and utter load of 100% hooey...;) Ah, well, to each his own, I suppose...;) Some companies, like Apple, thrive on n00bie ignorance. It sounds absolutely awful to me--horrendous beyond belief. Why Microsoft keeps throwing a little of its money in what I think is a nitwit direction is beyond me. But then again, this is the company that spent $2B on Minecraft, and the company that has taken 15 years or more to learn that the best game console made is an x86 PC.


    Two good things that I like a lot about Microsoft these days: Win10x64 (the Preview builds of the upcoming release are very nice, indeed)--Win10x64 was born to run--and not on some panty-waist ARM-hobbled version of Windows meant for idiot devices that exploit consumer ignorance while imposing obscene pricing (like Apple); and I like the fact that Microsoft is remaining true to AMD--the only cpu/gpu innovator in business today (note that Intel has been on a 'copy AMD' gig ever since the original Athlon shipped years ago--and now Intel is doing it again!)


    So, Microsoft certainly has its strong points--but not on anything like this! Ugh...;) "Always on"--wow, so Microsoft has already forgotten what a popular feature this was with the original XBone launch reveal?--So popular, in fact, that Microsoft canceled it altogether after crowds were booing them because of it. Ugh. Having lots of money is no excuse for being reckless with it and throwing it away, Microsoft.

  8. vedhogger

    I just want PWA on my foldable Samsung 8 Plus Windows X telephone connected to my 4K TV and my two PC screeems. Thats all. And I want it now. :)


    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFDcoX7s6rE&list=RDhFDcoX7s6rE&t=3


  9. brettscoast

    Good post Paul yes indeed the future of ARM devices looks bright indeed with Qualcomm snapdragon processors powering new hardware into the future i suppose only after exhausting testing will we know whether or not these chips will be able to handle multitasking apps competently that live up to consumers expectations but we dare to dream big.

  10. sharpsone

    Yes Intel is a behemoth and slow moving, but I don't think we can question their reliability. Intel is solid in this department, it's been the case since the first Pentium processor.



  11. John Scott

    Not convinced ARM can handle this kind of OS? I've run Snapdragon's on Android tablets and they seem OK with single task sort of platforms like Android. I question when you really push them with a multi tasking capable OS like Windows. Yes, obviously will probably see outstanding battery life, but at what trade off in performance?

  12. drbohner

    I have a used Nokia 2520 for sale - if anyone wants to pry it from my son's fingers (He still says it is the snappiest PC he's ever touched)...


    I'm looking forward to the rift - and opportunities for appending Telephony to a small tablet =D

  13. euskalzabe

    Give me a 2 pound, USB-C powered 12mm thick laptop (non-detachable or convertible) with a 13" 1080p IPS screen (in a 11" frame like the XPS 13) and 10+ hours of battery life. That kind of ARM based machine just needs to be zippy for everyday tasks: email, office (word/ppt/excel/etc), web browsing.


    Create that and I'll buy it immediately.

    • MikeCerm

      In reply to euskalzabe:

      So, you basically just want a slightly lighter XPS13 with a (formerly) Core-M? Basically, Apple's MacBook already checks all your boxes, and doesn't need a pokey ARM processor to do it. Why not buy an XPS13? Sure, it's like a half-pound more than your 2-pound target, but the CPU performance is significantly better (single threaded performance is about double that of the Snapdragon 835).

      • rbgaynor

        In reply to MikeCerm:

        Interestingly Apple's new A11 Arm-based chip beats the XPS13 in processor benchmarks. Shows us where Arm is headed.

      • skane2600

        In reply to MikeCerm:

        So the XPS13 has more than 10 hours of battery life?

      • euskalzabe

        In reply to MikeCerm:

        You're right, but I want it ligher/thinner still. The XPS13 is so close to what I'd love, but it's too expensive for what you get: an i5/8gbRAM/256GB HDD for ~$1K? C'mon. There's Lenovos (Yoga 720) and Asus (UX3xx series) that are just as thin/light, same hardware performance, for $750 - just a slightly bigger (not thicker) frame. That's why I have a UX305 now, but I wish it weighted 2 pounds or less and had more battery.


        An ARM CPU is all I'd need and would slash $200 off the price. Performance wise, it'd work f or anybody not doing intensive work: all I do on my laptop is Word/Excel/Ppt, Acrobat, some occasional Photoshop and web browsing (I work at a university). Since I'm "lugging around" my 2.65 pound UX305 (which is not too bad), the lighter/thinner the better/easier to bring with me to each class/meeting. The UX305, as light as it is, still gets tiring after walking throughout campus all day.

        • Bill R

          So you want a Chromebook? I see people say, email and word processing is all a need, but after a month complain that the computer is really slow relative to the x86 from Intel or AMD. Part of what you buy with more capable processors is headroom to do more than the absolute minimum and a long established code base that is the x86 instruction set. Maybe the minimum really is all you want or need... but are there enough people to create a market to save a couple of hundred dollars to get a lot less CPU performance? I don't know either.
          In reply to euskalzabe:


        • MikeCerm

          In reply to euskalzabe:

          The XPS 13 starts at $799. Yes, you can spend a lot more than that if you want too, but the $799 model with run circles around any ARM-powered machine, and if that's all you need then why look at the higher priced models?


          Also, what makes you think that the Snapdragon 835 powered systems will knock $200 off the price? The price delta between Samsung's Chromebook Pro and Plus is only $100, and they are using a no-name ARM CPU that they manufacture. Presumably a Snapdragon 835, which is only found in $700 phones, will cost more than that. If the price difference is only $50, is it worth dealing with a CPU that's literally 50% slower?

  14. skane2600

    Given the fact that Windows 10S apparently requires different drivers even though it's running essentially the same OS on the same processors, it seems unlikely that Win32 apps that rely on special drivers are going to run "out of the box" on Windows on ARM.


    I expect less than 100% compatibility and mediocre performance, but we'll see. People have been excited by this idea for years but it's not clear there's much real value over what we already have.

    • Tallin

      In reply to skane2600:

      Windows 10S does not require different drivers, it requires that drivers not be packaged in an .exe (or the ability to extract the driver files from the exe)

      • skane2600

        In reply to Tallin:

        It's depends on your definition of "driver". Any required installation is part of the driver deliverable. Two pieces of software that differ even in one byte are different. It doesn't matter what part of the software is different.

        • Stooks

          In reply to skane2600:

          "It's depends on your definition of "driver"


          EXACT same driver. As in ZERO difference or effort from a engineering/coding perspective. They did NOT have to go back and re-write them just for Windows 10s. They are in different packages as in wrappers.


          Not to mention....no one but schools are using Windows 10s. Joe consumer can't even buy Windows 10s.

          • skane2600

            In reply to Stooks:

            It sounds like you've never written an installer if you think that supporting installation doesn't require any extra effort from an engineering/coding perspective.


            I understand that you are saying that the post-installation part of the drivers are identical but that doesn't make a driver as delivered exactly the same. If it did, there would obviously be no issue to resolve at all.

          • SvenJ

            In reply to Stooks: Well, that's not true. You, I, or Joe Consumer can walk into Best Buy and walk out with a Surface Laptop with Windows 10 S on it today. If you want you can convert any of your Win 10 machines to S as well. It's free if you already have a valid license.


          • PeteB

            In reply to Stooks: ..no one but schools are using Windows 10s.

            Hate to break it to you but not even schools want crappy Windows 10S and it's decades of Windows spaghetti code bloat.

            Schools and universities have already standardised on Chromebooks. My gf's University just purchased 11,000 of them. It's happening everywhere.

    • Bill Russell

      In reply to skane2600:

      ARM certainly will require different drivers. I just see everyone talking about how windows 10S won't.

      Also don't forget win32 support is limited to 32 bit programs, which further limits its usefulness to almost zilch.

  15. evox81

    The question I have, that I haven't seen answered anywhere, is what exactly they mean by x86. I've noticed that everything in reference to this functionality only says "x86". Does this mean that it will only be able to support 32-bit applications? Typically x86 refers to 32-bit, while x86-64 or x64 is used to denote 64-bit applications. So will Windows on ARM only support 32-bit x86 code or will it also support 64-bit?

  16. glenn8878

    What about the Intel threat to sue?


    AMD's Ryzen has forced Intel to respond.

    • Stooks

      In reply to glenn8878:


      "AMD's Ryzen has forced Intel to respond."


      Big time. Paul and the technical details don't always jive. Ryzen is very popular especially among those the that stream or do a lot of video work. Dell, HP and Lenovo just last week announced Ryzen workstations.


      If I was building a new multipurpose desktop today it would be using a Ryzen 1800x.

      • ChristopherCollins

        In reply to Stooks:

        The bigger deal here is power consumption. ARM can do more with less watts. Ryzen & ThreadRipper are the reason we see a Core I9... If AMD hadn't done that, Intel wouldn't have rushed that out.


        Intel is still years from being able to touch ARM on Performance Per Watt. Intel is ahead of AMD on this, but for a home PC user (or at least myself), the wattage doesn't matter. I just want the most power at the best price.


        For a thin, always connected laptop that can last all day, wattage and cooling is about all that matters. ARM is the only process delivering that and Qualcomm is the best ARM maker that you can buy chips from in bulk.


        • Stooks

          In reply to ChristopherCollins:

          I was more focused on Paul's comment about how AMD has not done anything even with Ryzen.


          You are correct both price cuts of the current mainstream intel products and the rushed i9/"8th" gen stuff is all a reaction to Ryzen.


          Yes ARM is better for power consumption but it depends on the work load. For light to medium demanding stuff it should be fine, but if you need powerful CPU's ARM falls by the wayside quickly. I personally do not care about the power savings, I want the power.

  17. obarthelemy

    Is there a ballpark on how the Qualcomm and Intel platforms compare, in terms of cost, performance, and power draw ?

    • Ugur

      In reply to obarthelemy: In general ARM chips do use less power for comparable tasks but in actual usage it depends on many other factors. Some think, oh, mobile devices automatically perform so much better in battery usage because they use ARM. While really there are some very important other aspects beyond that for why an iPad for example has so much better battery life than a Windows laptop or convertible.
      One of the main ones is how extremely aggressive Apple is in conserving power, for example by turning off the screen quickly, or also very important: any app running in the bg which does not run one of the exceptions which allow to run onwards in the bg will be "frozen" very quickly when pushed to the bg.
      Couple that with way better and more reliably handled sleep and resume in general, and there one has some of the main reasons why Apple devices have so great battery life and also great standby life, even far superior than any Android devices (where for example in comparison any app can run services onwards in the bg forever and hence consume way more battery constantly and even when the device's screen is off).
      So yeah, MS would have to pull all of that off to get anywhere near the same battery life.


    • MikeCerm

      In reply to obarthelemy:

      Nobody can truly answer your question until we see some actual shipping hardware, but what I can say with absolute certainty is that everything thinks this is going to be a game-changer, and nothing could be farther from the truth. If you want to get a sense for how an ARM system might compare to a similarly priced Intel system, look to the Samsung Chromebook Plus (ARM) and Chromebook Pro (Intel). The systems are the same size and weight -- basically identical. The Chromebook Plus is $100 less than the Pro, which works out to be roughly 20% of the total cost of the system. The Snapdragon will cost significantly more than the no-name chip in the Samsung, so the price difference could be as little as $50 (or none at all). Certainly not a huge cost difference, especially considering the difference in performance. The custom ARM chip in the Plus doesn't deliver quite the same power at the Snapdragon 835, but it's in the same ballpark. The Core M3 processor in the Pro is about twice as fast as the ARM chip in the Plus. Every reviewer has called the Plus "sluggish" and recommended that most users will want to pay a little extra for the Pro. If ARM CPUs can't deliver satisfactory performance on Chrome OS, I sincerely doubt that performance of Windows on ARM will be all that great when you factor in the performance penalty of emulating x86 on ARM. In terms of battery life, the difference between the ARM-powered Plus and Intel-powered Pro is negligible. I guess most of the power goes to feeding the bright, high-resolution touchscreen, which is identical between the two systems.


      This isn't a perfect comparison, but it's the closest that we currently have to an apples-to-apples comparison between a modern ARM CPU and a modern Intel CPU in an otherwise identical system. It's basically a hands-down victory for Intel. Further complicating the calculus is that Intel also has Apollo Lake CPUs that perform similarly to Snapdragon 835 and cost significantly less than the M3 in the Samsung Chromebook Pro. Apollo Lake CPUs can be found in laptops costing as little as $200. Snapdragon 835 CPUs are exclusively available in smartphones costing $600+. I'd say there's almost no shot of Qualcomm undercutting Intel on price at the low end, and they're simply not competitive with Intel at the high-end.

      • Jeff Goldman

        In reply to obarthelemy:

        Nobody can truly answer your question until we see some actual shipping hardware, but what I can say with absolute certainty is that everything thinks this is going to be a game-changer, and nothing could be farther from the truth. If you want to get a sense for how an ARM system might compare to a similarly priced Intel system, look to the Samsung Chromebook Plus (ARM) and Chromebook Pro (Intel). The systems are the same size and weight -- basically identical. The Chromebook Plus is $100 less than the Pro, which works out to be roughly 20% of the total cost of the system. The Snapdragon will cost significantly more than the no-name chip in the Samsung, so the price difference could be as little as $50 (or none at all). Certainly not a huge cost difference, especially considering the difference in performance. The custom ARM chip in the Plus doesn't deliver quite the same power at the Snapdragon 835, but it's in the same ballpark. The Core M3 processor in the Pro is about twice as fast as the ARM chip in the Plus. Every reviewer has called the Plus "sluggish" and recommended that most users will want to pay a little extra for the Pro. If ARM CPUs can't deliver satisfactory performance on Chrome OS, I sincerely doubt that performance of Windows on ARM will be all that great when you factor in the performance penalty of emulating x86 on ARM. In terms of battery life, the difference between the ARM-powered Plus and Intel-powered Pro is negligible. I guess most of the power goes to feeding the bright, high-resolution touchscreen, which is identical between the two systems.


        This isn't a perfect comparison, but it's the closest that we currently have to an apples-to-apples comparison between a modern ARM CPU and a modern Intel CPU in an otherwise identical system. It's basically a hands-down victory for Intel. Further complicating the calculus is that Intel also has Apollo Lake CPUs that perform similarly to Snapdragon 835 and cost significantly less than the M3 in the Samsung Chromebook Pro. Apollo Lake CPUs can be found in laptops costing as little as $200. Snapdragon 835 CPUs are exclusively available in smartphones costing $600+. I'd say there's almost no shot of Qualcomm undercutting Intel on price at the low end, and they're simply not competitive with Intel at the high-end.

  18. RobertJasiek

    Will the Windows be 32b or 64b Windows? If it will be 64b Windows, will 64b software run and RAM of all sizes be fully recognised?

  19. Stooks

    "you get exactly the same capabilities" "I cannot wait to find out"


    Neither can I. However as they say "the devil is in the details".


    Lots and lots of questions will be answered. Like you say it has the same capabilities. Does that mean all of Windows, including all of the apps that come pre-installed have been ported? Or does that mean just the core OS and those pre-installed apps are running through this new emulation....and are less "optimal" in terms of performance?


    I think the use case for these devices will be mostly used in vertical markets. A smaller, lighter device with better battery life that runs Win32 apps with "OK" performance but for specific use cases that is acceptable.

    • jimchamplin

      In reply to Stooks:

      Why in Hell's name would they do that? lol


      Of course it will all be native ARM code. It's just a compile-time option. The way they do a build of Windows for Insider releases, it's a full build of Windows, but with ARMv8-A/AArch64 selected as the target ISA.


      Just like how all of a 64-bit build of Windows is compiled for AMD64.

      • skane2600

        In reply to jimchamplin:

        It's never as simple as just a compile-time option when moving from one architecture to another. Except perhaps for C programs that use nothing more complicated than the standard C libraries.

      • Waethorn

        In reply to jimchamplin:

        Apples to oranges. AMD64 is the same ISA that Intel uses. Intel adopted the technology from AMD after their Itanium ISA (which is superior from an ISA standpoint) failed to be compatible, failed to scale, and just plain failed the sales marketing test.


        The lower-level machine language support for x86 on ARM is run in an emulator. Only high-level languages like .Net will run natively, because the libraries are just recompiled for ARMv8.

      • Stooks

        In reply to jimchamplin:

        It is not as easy as you suggest. ARM does not have full API support with x86/64. If it was that easy Windows RT (Windows on ARM) would have had actual apps and been a hit. RT died because no one ported their apps.


        The whole deal with this OS is that you DONT have to port your apps and you get the advantage of small devices, better battery life and cell support.



        • wright_is

          In reply to Stooks:

          Windows itself will be cross-compiled for ARM. The "clever" bit is that MS and Qualcomm have worked on IA32 emulation libraries, so that Intel Win32 native applications will run on the Qualcomm devices without further modification.

          Naturally, they will run slower than on an Intel processor or native ARM code, but they will (should) still run on the ARM PC.

          • Stooks

            In reply to wright_is:

            I fully understand it. My initial question was...is it just the core OS that has been re-written for ARM or the core OS and all the included software (base install), like Edge, Mail, People, etc been re-written/ported to native ARM?


            My preference if using one of these devices would be for all apps to be written in native ARM code for performance reasons. That will never happen or RT would have been a real thing. I am at least hoping that Microsoft has ported all of its apps to native ARM.....but since not all of their software is even UMP on x86 I am not holding my breath.

            • wright_is

              In reply to Stooks:

              I would assume that MS would ensure that all their own apps and the built in stuff run optimally, otherwise it will start off as a poor experience and just get worse with every additional application that is installed.

              Mail, People etc. should be ARM based, because they are store apps, so it should be a compiler switch, targeting ARM. "Normal" Windows stuff will probably need to re-working to get them to compile cleanly.

  20. carlo riverso

    Microsoft should then do a 7-8" bezel-less Phablet 8gb ram, 512gb / [email protected] 16gb / 1tb...with a 6000mhz "removable" battery. It can sell a separate simultaneous multiple battery charger. Multiple USB C ports, NFC, IR Blaster, and either ethernet port or ability to connect to with ether2usb adapter.

    This phablet would barely allow fitting inside a cargo pant / coat pocket.

    Some other things would be key:

    1. All these phone/tablets should be daisy - chainable by themselves and at separate docking station.

    2. Can pair with separate smartwatch, whether Windows / Apple / Android.

    3. Simultaneous Dual Sim & Multi-User (business / personal kept separate & seamless travel roaming).

    4. Two sd card slots.

    5. Virtual Box to run any OS within any other... or at least Multi - Boot capability.


    This would be a crossover market hit.


    Similarly, for extra sales, the next Windows Phone could come in a set of three -

    1. Small Personal Pocket Size, 2. Large 7+" Phablet Business Edition that could @ desk either stand docked like a landline or do computer work, 3. Paired Windows Smartwatch.

    Further, Peripheral sales would be outstanding with upgradeable / removable ram, batteries, snap on camera addons, etc.


    Windows can still grab most of the Android market, but MS better hurry before Android @ sufficient hardware w/ virtual emulator software shuts that door.

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