Windows 10 on ARM to Launch with 3 PCs on 14 Carriers

Posted on February 21, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in Hardware, Mobile, Windows 10 with 56 Comments

Windows 10 on ARM to Launch with 3 PCs on 14 Carriers

Qualcomm announced today that the three Windows 10 on ARM PCs that will launch this Spring will be supported by 14 wireless carriers from around the globe.

“Our collaboration together with Microsoft has continued to build momentum for the Always Connected PC category,” Qualcomm vice president Don McGuire said in a prepared statement. “With the growing list of commitments from leading mobile operators worldwide, Snapdragon-powered Always Connected PCs are engineered to offer consumers a compelling and powerful mobile computing experience, with instant-on capability, always-on connectivity and ‘beyond all-day’ battery life in innovative, thin and light designs.”

We’ve known for some time that only three Qualcomm-based Windows 10 PCs would ship this Spring. But the list of wireless carriers has grown a lot, from the originally-announced five, which were China Telecom, TIM (Italy), EE (U.K.), and Sprint and Verizon (U.S.). Now, the following carriers are on-board as well:

  • Telstra (Australia)
  • CMCC (China Mobile Communications Corporation) (China)
  • Transatel (France)
  • Deutsche Telekom (Germany)
  • Cubic (Ireland)
  • Telefónica (Spain)
  • Swisscom (Switzerland)
  • T-Mobile (U.S.)
  • AT&T (U.S.)

So, yes, all four of the major U.S. carriers are supporting Qualcomm-based Always Connected PCs.

“The Always Connected PC combines the connectivity and the simplicity of the smartphone with the power and creative capability of the Windows 10 PC, transforming how we work and play,” Microsoft corporate vice president Matt Barlow adds. “In collaboration with Qualcomm Technologies and with the support of these mobile operators, consumers will be able to enjoy up to gigabit 4G/LTE connectivity and stay connected to the things that are most important to them.”

Expect more Always Connected PC news from Mobile World Congress this coming week. Including, I assume, from Intel, which is also supporting this initiative.


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Comments (59)

59 responses to “Windows 10 on ARM to Launch with 3 PCs on 14 Carriers”

  1. Darekmeridian

    Surprised at Verizon being on this list but still good news. Hopefully a few more machines will come over the next six months or so.

  2. Daniel D

    I'll be getting one of these to put next to my WinRT tablet and Win mobile phone in my collection.

  3. MutualCore

    One gets the feeling this will be the latest MS venture to crash and burn.

  4. Otto Gunter

    If it has 10hr battery life I want one. My SP4 does not last through a 3 hour flight, and I'm afraid my RT might croak one of these days. That, and it doesn't have a decent browser; does everything else I need just fine btw.

    • MikeCerm

      In reply to Otto_Gunter:

      Don't get too excited. On a big tablet like the Surface Pro, compared to Intel's low-wattage processors, there's almost no benefit to using a Snapdragon at all. On a 12" tablet, the screen is a big power draw. Shaving a watt or two off of the CPU just doesn't make that big a deal. Better standby time, yes, but in terms of screen-on time, it's probably not even worth the huge performance hit.

  5. John Scott

    Some really good thin notebooks running low powered Intel chips that get good battery life without compromises. Will be interesting to see where these devices price themselves in the market. That will be a deciding factor if they have any legs in the market of travel notebooks. With it being a ARM chip, its not like you can just throw a full Windows version on it if you hate the ARM version of Windows.

  6. nbplopes

    Here is what Office Watch says about desktop Office 365 on ARM:

    "It’s also possible to get ‘full’ Office 2016 for Windows from the Windows Store that will work on ARM chip devices. The combination works, but not very well. Any decent sized document will grind the computer to a halt with the slower chip and limited memory.

    Why? Getting full x86 Office for Windows to run on an ARM chip requires a few layers of emulation and what developers call ‘abstraction’.  Those extra layers slow down work and add more possibilities for bugs."

  7. brettscoast

    This is a positive if cautious first step for always connected PC's running Windows 10 on ARM. I see a future for these devices providing the pricing from said wireless carriers is reasonable with no excessive data charges hitting consumers in the hip pocket. We don't mind paying good money for reliable products and services but to make this work into the future there needs to be good cooperation/collaboration from both sides of the equation to the benefit of all users.

    • jrickel96

      In reply to brettscoast:

      I think it goes beyond ARM since MS has also announced that Intel machines are coming too.

      I know I will be able to add an unlimited LTE data line to my T-Mobile plan for $20 a month - the same plan I have on my iPad Pro right now. Unlimited LTE data with unlimited HD streaming.

  8. Waethorn

    Unless carriers offer real discounts off these instead of just splitting the high cost into monthly payments, these are DOA.

  9. Waethorn

    Ok, something that wasn't addressed: according to ZDnet's reporting of Microsoft's own documentation on these systems, there will be NO NATIVE ARM APPS outside of UWP. So no, you won't be able to code directly for ARM hardware. You're going to be limited to UWP-limited sandbox versions of Direct3D, and don't even think that you're getting anywhere close to being able to code native NEON instructions.

    The only Win32 support is for the emulated x86 applications, meaning that this is a bad choice for businesses that rely heavily on Win32 app support. Considering the cost, you're probably better off getting a real business computer with WWAN support from a vendor like Dell or Lenovo.

  10. atulmarathe

    So do the wireless carriers only provide connectivity or do they also get involved in OS updates because they need to 'support' the device on their networks?

  11. Waethorn

    I wonder what kind of kickbacks Microsoft gets from carriers, what with Windows Updates going to cause owners lots of overage fees in monthly cellular usage.

    • SvenJ

      In reply to Waethorn: It's not like these only have LTE. Even on my current LTE capable Surface 3 I can elect to not use LTE for updates. I typically don't even turn the LTE on, given I have WiFi most of the time. The other morning, when the power went out, it was very convenient to just tap LTE, pop onto the Utility's site and find that yes they new, and had a restoral time already listed.

  12. Roger Ramjet

    I see these devices as a good fit for high end sales people. They don't need a lot of processing power, but the combo of light, long battery life and always connected would be great for them. Plus they have enough budget that extra LTE charges means nothing to their increased productivity. But there aren't enough users like that, sales or otherwise to keep Qualcomm or Microsoft in this business.

    But I guess its a good decision to launch it cautiously, they can experiment and see what segments adopt. I still think the best large market use case for the tech is simply Microsoft/Windows extending down into personal use tablets, where iOS & Android dominate. And it's in that area that it would make a difference to Microsoft. Rather than just replacing one PC for another, which is what is happening for most business users buying these. But to really be able to attack tablets widely, they are going have to be able to run it on even lower spec'ed ARM chips, not just the late model chip from Qualcomm.

  13. beckerrt

    Actually pretty interested in these. All depends on the data pricing structure of course, and I wonder if carriers will offer these PCs on contract similar to how they sell phones. Got my eye on the Asus, but will be checking out the reviews before making any purchases to see about battery life, driver compatibility, etc.

  14. woelfel

    I would guess that we will see MS talk more about e-sim and its technology over the course of the year so people can "switch" between carriers easily but also the ease of adding data to your machine. Thought they have previously talked about it, I would presume that with the release of some products, including the rumors of their own device, they would want to market that feature.

  15. GeekWithKids

    Disappointed that there are no Canadian carriers...

  16. thespecificocean

    A little future think. but I can't wait until "Always Connected [Device]" becomes ubiquitous and I can just bring each device online with a carrier like T-Mobile or an MVNO. Case in point, when I moved into my current apartment it took Cox three weeks to run a new line from the pole to my building because the old wires were so messed up. I would have much rather had connectivity built into my TV so I'm instantly online and streaming content directly from the carrier. For many households with just a couple of devices, the freedom being able to take your internet anywhere and not having a modem/router and all the security issues that comes with running your own Wifi and network would be nice for non technical people.

    • jrickel96

      In reply to thespecificocean:

      Also gives people the freedom to choose what their device is. With VOIP as an option any digital device with a connection can be a phone of some kind. This will open the door to other device types, but also to bluetooth headsets attached to always connected PCs that allow for phone calls. I think most users will still choose a phone sized form factor, but not all will. I always have a backpack on my for work, so a Surface sized device that is Always on in there can provide quite a bit of function.

    • AnOldAmigaUser

      In reply to thespecificocean:

      The issue with this is that it depends on just a couple of devices, to keep the additional monthly fees to a reasonable amount. As the technology takes off, and more devices can be connected to wireless carriers, that number is going to increase...we can't seem to help ourselves. Add in a couple or three of teenagers and their digital needs and it begins to snowball.

      I do not see the wireless carriers dropping their per line pricing anytime soon.

  17. chrisrut

    My portable computing needs are rather simple: after O365 and a browser, the rest is accomplished by remote desktop access into my personal and enterprise systems. So the always connected PC is a quite attractive, and fairly obvious proposition. Accordingly how it's packaged, priced, sold, and delivered will ultimately define the limits of success.

    This needs to be "Google FI" for computers; ubiquitous, cross-system connectivity, with no-barriers roaming, at a reasonable price. I wish me luck. :-)

  18. skane2600

    It's worth remembering that in early December it was reported that the first Windows on ARM PCs would be released "early next year". Where are they?

    • Chris_Kez

      In reply to skane2600:

      HP said "Spring 2018" for the Envy X2 (per the AnandTech liveblog of the Qualcomm event in December); Asus said "early Spring" for the NovaGo (per the techradar hands-on at the Qualcomm event).

      • skane2600

        In reply to Chris_Kez:

        From the Qualcomm's site: "They were joined by Jerry Shen, chief executive officer of Asus, who announced the first Windows on Snapdragon device: the 2-in-1 convertible ASUS NovaGo, expected to be available early next year." No mention of Spring.

        • Chris_Kez

          In reply to skane2600:

          Kevin Frost, VP from HP presenting at the Qualcomm event:

        • Chris_Kez

          In reply to skane2600:

          I can't speak to what techradar was told during their hands-on, other than to say I believe they are accurately reporting what they were told-- and that I would tend to hold these companies to the more specific date than the less specific date, since we tend to get more general dates first then get more specific ones later.

          • skane2600

            In reply to Chris_Kez:

            There seems to be some inconsistencies in release estimates although "Spring 2018" isn't really any more specific than "Early 2018" IMO.

            • SvenJ

              In reply to skane2600: Spring is a defined season that starts March 20 and ends June 20 this year. Early is a nebulous term that differs depending on whether you are providing it or waiting for it. Early could mean anything in the first half of the year to many. Spring is more specific than early 2018.

              • skane2600

                In reply to SvenJ:

                I doubt that computer makers will feel restricted to the technical definition of Spring. On the other hand it's technically a 3 month interval which is pretty non-specific. I doubt many people would consider June to be early in the year. I'll bet a more common expectation would be that "early" would imply January through March at the most.

      • Waethorn

        In reply to Chris_Kez:

        Actually, they were supposed to ship the firsr WoA devices for the holiday season 2017, but that never happened.

  19. Chris_Kez

    I'd love to be a fly on the wall at the meetings among Microsoft, Qualcomm and PC makers. I wonder what their expectations are and how they plan to support this initiative. They must know that it takes a big advertising push to drive awareness and stimulate consumer demand. Do they think there is enough upside to make that kind of push? Or will they roll this out without fanfare and see what latent, untapped demand looks like? Realistically, I expect the latter. I don't think they'll really do anything to move the needle from an advertising standpoint; nor will they do much with carriers to improve pricing.

  20. skane2600

    Should be “The Always Connected PC combines the connectivity and the data charges of the smartphone with a fraction of the power of the Windows 10 PC"

    • MutualCore

      In reply to skane2600:

      Don't forget that Windows on ARM is 'nerfed'. No x86 apps, no Hyper-V. Basically just rehashed Windows RT with LTE.

    • sprewell

      In reply to skane2600:

      You would be surprised. I can now see why MS chose to jump on board ARM again with the Snapdragon 835, as I just picked up a new smartphone powered by the 835 and this thing is a beast. I tried building a C++ codebase with clang on the smartphone and it consistently built in 1 min. 45 sec., as opposed to around 6 mins. for the Snapdragon 820 I tried on a tablet. That's largely because it builds in parallel, so the octa-core 835 is going to fly by the quad-core 820, but if you want to run heavier loads, ARM chips are probably getting comparable to core i5s these days, while eating a _lot less_ battery. Oh, my smartphone has 6 GBs RAM, so that's not a concern either.

      • skane2600

        In reply to sprewell:

        I'm not sure how experiments to compare different ARM chips is relevant to ARM vs Intel performance. In any case the  "fraction of the power" I was referring to was the inability to run some full Windows code and the necessity of emulating the rest. No, I haven't forgotten about UWP, I just don't consider it important to most users.

        • sprewell

          In reply to skane2600:

          It's relevant because the 820 was already a very popular, powerful chip that was in a ton of 2016 smartphones, yet the 835 flies by it. I agree that doesn't show its strength compared to x86 chips but there are other benchmarks that show that. I haven't used any x86 devices in years, but I plan to borrow one from a friend and try compiling this codebase to compare. I'll let you know what I find.

  21. mmuntean

    DOA! $999 for the HP device :)))) LOL are they simply idiots or just delusional?? I guess both since they went the same way with that junk Elite X3...

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