HP Envy x2 (Qualcomm) Review Check-In: Taking Stock

HP Envy x2 (Qualcomm) Review Check-In: Taking Stock

After using the HP Envy x2 in a variety of situations over the past week, I’ve decided to hit refresh on this experiment. Oh, I’m going to keep using the PC, of course. But now I’m going to use it for the tasks for which it was designed.

My initial couple of experiments with this first Windows 10 on ARM PC were done solely to answer some burning questions. Are the battery life claims accurate? (Yes.) Can it really run Windows desktop applications? (Mostly yes.) Do those desktop applications run well? (Mostly no.)

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But in the course of this usage, I realized something. I’m using it wrong. On purpose, for sure. But to review this PC properly, I will need to change my approach.

The need for this change occurred over time. But as I was waiting for MarkdownPad, a relatively lightweight desktop application, to open, I realized that I was asking the wrong questions. That the slowness of this kind of legacy application should be viewed not as a negative per se, but rather as the miracle that it is. We can run x86 desktop applications on ARM. This is impressive.

Some readers get this, of course. Others, however, have been rather disparaging of this system because of this real-world performance.

I see both sides of the debate. But then I also had what has ultimately been exposed as a rather naive hope that this thing could somehow work well as a standard Windows 10 laptop/2-in-1 replacement. That’s where I was wrong.

Instead, Windows 10 on ARM should be viewed as the ultimate expression of S mode, of Microsoft’s vision for the future. Yes, you can fall back to x86 application compatibility as needed. But Microsoft’s belief—Microsoft’s hope, really—is that the instances in which you have to do that will go down dramatically over time. Will, in fact, disappear.

My central complaint about Windows 10 S, and now S mode, is that it’s a one-way street. You can’t install a handful of desktop applications and then put it back in S mode. Windows 10 on ARM is configured the same way, of course. But it’s still a bit different than S mode on x86/x64. For example, you cannot install standard Intel-type drivers, something I experience with Microsoft’s mouse and keyboard software. So even when S mode is disabled, it’s a bit like S mode.

So we have to wrap our heads around what the market really is for this device, what the customer looks like. I mean, what is the point of this thing?

Here, again, all you need to do is look at Microsoft’s rationale for Windows 10 S/S mode. The potential here is for a vast audience of users—not just education customers, as many claimed last year—that value the streamlined nature of S mode, with its purported improvements in performance, security, and reliability. And Windows 10 on ARM delivers on all that, plus it provides seamless connectivity, which I’ll be writing about soon, and stellar battery life and uptime. It really does work like a mobile device, something that’s just not possible on real x86/x64.

But that statement comes with a caveat: Windows 10 on ARM does deliver on the promises of S mode, even when you disable S mode, assuming that you mostly stick to Store apps.

That’s a big assumption in some ways. But as I’ve reported in my Living in S Mode series, the bar is lowering. There are more and better apps in the Store these days, thanks largely to desktop and web applications, and most of them run just fine on ARM.

In fact, I did a bit of a testing to examine a theory I had about performance. As part of this testing, I pitted MarkdownPad vs. both Word Mobile and the Store version of Word 2016 to see which performed better. My guess was that Word Mobile would be faster—in launching and in use—than Word 2016, and that MarkdownPad would come in dead last. To my surprise, Word 2016 appears to work just as well as Word Mobile. And because it is a more full-featured application, that is both desirable and surprising. (And, yes, MarkdownPad came in last.)

Then I wrote this past weekend’s Microsoft Edge commentary using Word 2016 on the Envy x2 and experienced absolutely no slowdowns or laggy performance. It worked normally, like it would on any PC. Now that is a miracle. (I also wrote part of my UWP editorial on this PC.) I had also used OneNote (mobile, the version that comes with Windows 10) on Friday to take notes. No performance issues at all.

These experiences have helped to trigger the reset. I’ll soon do another battery life test to see if disabling S mode changes anything. And of course, I have that connectivity follow-up to post as well. But as I head into my review for this PC, I’m resolved to use it in the way that makes the most sense. And I’m coming around to the notion that, desktop application performance notwithstanding, this platform could, in fact, make tons of sense.


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  • warpdesign

    26 March, 2018 - 10:29 am

    <p><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">&gt; My central complaint about Windows 10 S, and now S mode, is that it’s a one-way street. You can’t install a handful of desktop applications and then put it back in S mode.</span></p><p><br></p><p><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">The whole purpose of S mode seems to be that you can only run apps that come from the store that won't impact the performance or your battery life. Once you disable S mode and install such an app it seems to be logical you cannot revert to S mode while keeping these apps since Microsoft cannot guarantee the performance anymore.</span></p>

    • Paul Thurrott

      Premium Member
      26 March, 2018 - 10:33 am

      <blockquote><a href="#256540"><em>In reply to warpdesign:</em></a></blockquote><p>That doesn't make sense. That's just what's happening. Why can't one install a single desktop application or a driver and then return to S mode? THAT would make sense.</p><p>We're adults. We don't need a parental overseer to arbitrarily deny us what could easily just work.</p>

      • curtisspendlove

        26 March, 2018 - 10:59 am

        <blockquote><a href="#256541"><em>In reply to paul-thurrott:</em></a></blockquote><p>Man…I dunno. A driver being emulated? I’m not well-versed enough with these devices to know what kind of performance impact that would have, but it sounds pretty scary to have, say, mouse and keyboard drivers running elumated 100% of the time. </p>

      • jaredthegeek

        Premium Member
        26 March, 2018 - 11:04 am

        <blockquote><a href="#256541"><em>In reply to paul-thurrott:</em></a></blockquote><p>S Mode is not for "us". Its for my Mom, my in-laws, and most of my users who don't need that more than basic computing. The reality is that S Mode is not for power users. Its for people who need basic computing which is the majority of users. Even in a corporate environment few people need apps that could not be published in a private app store for the devices.</p><p><br></p><p><br></p>

        • Tony Barrett

          26 March, 2018 - 11:26 am

          <blockquote><a href="#256559"><em>In reply to jaredthegeek:</em></a></blockquote><p>But those 'basic' users still need to use apps that likely aren't and never will be in Microsoft's store. They'll try to install a win32 app they might have used on their old computer, and there's a good chance it won't work properly – or at all.</p>

          • Otto Gunter

            26 March, 2018 - 11:42 am

            <blockquote><a href="#256570"><em>In reply to ghostrider:</em></a></blockquote><blockquote><em>Not so. I am a power user when I use my SP4, but I am a "basic user" when I use my RT. Even this long after the RT's (so-called) demise, it comes in very useful for many purposes, consumption-focused, but even for doing spreadsheets and email when I travel, since it's battery lasts far longer and it supports mouse and keyboard. There are no apps I need that I do not have, even on RT, and WOA promises even better battery life and even more/better apps on the same form-factor. I agree with Paul, it will just get better.</em></blockquote><p><br></p>

          • jaredthegeek

            Premium Member
            18 April, 2018 - 12:47 pm

            <blockquote><a href="#256570"><em>In reply to ghostrider:</em></a></blockquote><p>I disagree. My parents and in laws use the basics and most of what they do is in the browser so S mode would be great. For enterprise, probably 90% of users could use something with just S mode as again so much happens in the browser now or they are using MS Office. S mode would block them from installing old apps and causing issues on the computer.</p>

        • Stooks

          26 March, 2018 - 11:35 am

          <blockquote><a href="#256559"><em>In reply to jaredthegeek:</em></a></blockquote><p>I agree, so get them a Chromebook or a iPad Pro. Both of those are supported by developers and have real app stores.</p>

          • jaredthegeek

            Premium Member
            18 April, 2018 - 12:49 pm

            <blockquote><a href="#256574"><em>In reply to Stooks:</em></a></blockquote><p>In a windows environment it makes more sense to go with a windows machine for management and user familiarity. Also even with S mode you get full office and not a limited version like on an iPad or Chromebook. An enterprise windows store could be stood up and deploy the rest of what we need without issue and limiting exposure.</p>

        • Irving Park

          26 March, 2018 - 12:32 pm

          <blockquote><a href="#256559"><em>In reply to jaredthegeek:</em></a></blockquote><p>Yes, the hopes for S mode is that developers will port their Android and/or IOS apps to the Windows store. </p><p>I also always kind of viewed a Snapdragon powered Windows 10 ARM device as a segway back into the mobile space. </p><p>I am really curious to see the first Android powered device with similar specs. Or the new rumored Google Andromada. I don't see the ability to run Android on Chromebooks as a game changer as it currently is. It would make more since to make Android work better on tablets with/without keyboards like Apple has done with IOS.</p>

          • skane2600

            26 March, 2018 - 1:10 pm

            <blockquote><a href="#256621"><em>In reply to Irving Park:</em></a></blockquote><p>S mode doesn't change anything for Android or iOS developers.</p>

            • mariusmuntensky

              27 March, 2018 - 4:43 am

              <blockquote><a href="#256637"><em>In reply to skane2600:</em></a></blockquote><p>Nothing MS does will ever change anything for Android and IOS developers, because MS ain't worth it for them. They have proven to both users and devs that they dont give 2 *** about their own products, mediocre quality and support and lies over and over again…</p>

      • Wizzwith

        26 March, 2018 - 1:14 pm

        <blockquote><a href="#256541"><em>In reply to paul-thurrott:</em></a></blockquote><p>Perhaps because Installing one poorly designed desktop application could be just as bad as installing a dozen? </p><p>What does being an "adult" have to do with it? Most adults aren't tech savvy enough to know what they should or shouldn't do on a computer. S mode isn't good for you or me, but it is generally good (at least conceptually) for the average person. </p><p>Not trying to sound too snarky though it may read that way 🙂 </p>

        • skane2600

          26 March, 2018 - 1:56 pm

          <blockquote><a href="#256638"><em>In reply to Wizzwith:</em></a></blockquote><p>But it begs the question – If the average user considered S mode to be good enough, why didn't Windows 10 S PCs fly off the shelves? It's not enough that Microsoft or tech enthusiasts believe that it should be good enough, the buying public has to believe it too. The problem for Microsoft is that it's hard to push these PCs as a better alternative without suggesting that Windows on Intel sucks which wouldn't reflect well on their core customers.</p>

  • rmlounsbury

    Premium Member
    26 March, 2018 - 10:37 am

    <p>So, If you are all in on the Microsoft platform (Edge, O365, etc…) then their ARM based devices are just fine today. However, if you really want to go much beyond that you should probably look elsewhere and most folks that would do this probably aren't looking for this type of device anyways. </p><p><br></p><p>I would suspect that once PWA's come to a general release of Windows 10 and not just the insiders and that marketplace grows these devices will need to be revaluated. But until PWA comes to Windows 10; all these devices will mostly be a feature platform for Microsoft's tools and somewhat limiting to their market. </p><p><br></p><p>It will be interesting to see Windows 10 on ARM develop over the next year or two. </p>

  • Polycrastinator

    26 March, 2018 - 10:42 am

    <p>My real concern on this stuff is how do I know which applications will work before buying? I remote tech support on the go. Much of what I work with is in the browser (fine), a containerized web app (also fine) and then some monitoring/remote access software. That's my one thing. The heavy lifting actually happens on the remote PCs, but I have no idea how – or if – the monitoring/remote software will operate. If it's alright, this could be a great device for me, but there's no way for me to check before purchasing.</p>

    • Dan1986ist

      Premium Member
      26 March, 2018 - 11:06 am

      <blockquote><a href="#256546"><em>In reply to Polycrastinator:</em></a></blockquote><p>In theory, if the remote access software is compiled to run on ARM natively, or in the WOW64 emulation layer in Windows 10 running on ARM, i.e. is 32-bit, it should work. However, if it is a 64-bit compile, I doubt it would work. </p>

      • Polycrastinator

        27 March, 2018 - 10:26 am

        <blockquote><a href="#256561"><em>In reply to Dan1986ist:</em></a></blockquote><p>I'm more worried about this particular software using kernel level drivers. It's old and clunky and I think it might do so, which would also break compatibility.</p>

  • Paul Avvento

    Premium Member
    26 March, 2018 - 10:50 am

    <p>I'm looking forward to this, Paul. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on <em>both</em> the device, and the experience of truly living in the "S" and "ARM" paradigm. What are the tasks that make this a nuisance versus the ones that force you to switch back to another device? What new app store programs have you found to alleviate the lack of an x86 app, etc. And once you've adapted your workflow to this paradigm, how does the Envy handle those tasks.</p><p><br></p><p>Exciting stuff!</p>

  • rob4jen

    Premium Member
    26 March, 2018 - 10:54 am

    <p>I am curious to see if Google releases an ARM version of desktop Chrome. Is it possible to compile Chromium for WOA?</p>

    • SvenJ

      26 March, 2018 - 8:31 pm

      <blockquote><a href="#256554"><em>In reply to rob4jen:</em></a>Well there is an ARM version of Chrome. Millions running Android use it. Probably doesn't run under Windows though ;)</blockquote><p><br></p>

  • Simard57

    26 March, 2018 - 11:04 am

    <p>Paul,</p><p>I appreciate this series of articles and especially this update. I wish this device were available when I replaced my dead SP3 – I would have chosen it over the Spectre 360 I purchased. It meets my needs well and I value battery life and light weight over performance these days. Performance is "good enuf" for most uses.</p><p><br></p><p>If MS would double down and port their Apps such as VSCode and Visual Studio to the Store, it would send a strong message and make a machine like this an ideal CS or Engineering student machine or for a gray beard retiree like me! Do you have insights as to why MS isn't making most of their apps available in the Store — it seems to show a lack of commitment on their part.</p><p><br></p><p>Could this machine be your only device or is it a complementary one?</p>

  • kodos78

    26 March, 2018 - 11:20 am

    <p>Good article. Fun title too — considering that the Envy x2 has been out of stock everytime I check in on it!</p>

    • Stooks

      26 March, 2018 - 11:34 am

      <blockquote><a href="#256566"><em>In reply to kodos78:</em></a></blockquote><p>They sold they 15 they made to Microsoft fanboy review sites? Windows Central probably bought 10 of them.</p>

  • andrewtechhelp

    Premium Member
    26 March, 2018 - 11:23 am

    <p>Is it possible that the reason Word 2016 runs well on this device is that it is natively compiled for ARM and not running in x86 emulation? I remember for Windows RT they did the word to compile Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote &amp; Outlook 2013 for ARM so it could run on that system. Are they just reusing that work on these devices with all of Office 2016?</p>

    • IanYates82

      Premium Member
      26 March, 2018 - 4:22 pm

      <blockquote><a href="#256567"><em>In reply to andrewtechhelp:</em></a></blockquote><p>That's my guess. They explicitly said they were optimising the office apps delivered by the store for this. So it's either the ARM version, or they're able to do the x86 to ARM bit in the cloud and have that included in the package. The latter is how they handle regular UWP apps iirc but I feel the former is more likely in this case. </p>

  • Tony Barrett

    26 March, 2018 - 11:23 am

    <p>You may think you're 'using it wrong' and need to rethink it, but the general populous won't care a jot. If it doesn't do what they want, and they have to wait for anything (no excuses about x86 on ARM – they won't care), they'll just get fed up and return it. It will also create a very negative Windows wave that will cause MS yet another round of pain. As a tech demo, Win10 on ARM is impressive. As a product, it's a nightmare with MS once again trying to direct the market where they want to be as a company and certainly nothing the consumer asked for.</p><p>MS still seem to think they're big enough to create a new market with products like this. It is nothing more than a re-packaged WinRT + emulation, and they pray the emulation trick is their 'get out of jail' card this time round.</p>

  • StudBen

    26 March, 2018 - 11:24 am

    <p>Paul,</p><p>I know you said Word 2016 ran normal. Have they updated the store app for O365 applications to run in ARM? Or is it they just optimized the emulation for Word? When I look on the store page for Word 2016 on my own PC here I just see no mention of ARM on it.</p>

  • Stooks

    26 March, 2018 - 11:29 am

    <p>"<span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">Instead, Windows 10 on ARM should be viewed as the ultimate expression of S mode"</span></p><p><br></p><p>I have heard you state on Windows Weekly that NO ONE is selling Windows 10S computers. You said that no vendor has stated their sales too you and there was supposed to be mid range Windows 10S PC's released and they never were, because sales are just not there.</p><p><br></p><p>So the ultimate expression of Windows 10S is a more expensive computer that can't be turned into a regular Windows PC (x86) but upgrading to Pro….so NO ONE will buy these devices??????</p><p><br></p><p>"<span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">But Microsoft’s belief—Microsoft’s hope"</span></p><p><br></p><p><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">Microsoft's Hail Mary Pass with 5 seconds left on the clock?</span></p><p><br></p><p><br></p>

  • Brandon Mills

    26 March, 2018 - 12:02 pm

    <p>I know nobody wants to call this Windows RT, but isn't it basically RT still? Sure, you technically have x86 compatibility if you absolutely need it, but it is highly in your favor to not use that compatibility.</p><p><br></p><p>So really, I'm looking at this as an Edge book. A computer that will live or die based on how good Microsoft Edge is at any given moment.</p><p><br></p><p>Quick question though. Didn't we have ARM versions of Office back for RT? The desktop versions? Do we still have that for Windows 10 S? Can Office run on ARM without compatibility mode on? Desktop Office is a huge bonus. It just needs to have Edge get up to par with Chrome. No easy task, though.</p>

    • Simard57

      26 March, 2018 - 3:52 pm

      <blockquote><a href="#256601"><em>In reply to BrandonMills:</em></a></blockquote><p><br></p><p>I see it as a transitional platform and over time, apps will be converted to run on ARM better. RT was a dead-end. This gives an option that is likely more performant than Intel Atom processors or I3 series from a generation or two ago but offer battery performance that Intel has never come close to delivering!</p><p><br></p><p>As I understand it, the X86 emulation uses a JIT Tranlator to convert the X86 to ARM code while it executes, couldn't that be pre-translated and offered as the Store App Image instead of the original X86 code? This would eliminate that first pass execution hit. The translation has to be deterministic so it should be feasible to do that before the app is put into the store? I am sure it is more complicated than that ;)</p><p><br></p><p><br></p><p><br></p>

  • skane2600

    26 March, 2018 - 12:11 pm

    <p>This sounds more like "Wow, my review of this product is kind of negative, I'd better change my perspective so I can give it a more positive review." </p><p><br></p><p>If the purpose of this product didn't include running Win32 apps, than the upgrade to Pro shouldn't be part of it. Let's look at it logically. Does it make sense that Microsoft would spend a lot of time, effort, and money to get Win32 emulation to work on ARM (however slowly) just to put it on PCs without considering it a key feature? </p>

    • Chris Payne

      26 March, 2018 - 12:48 pm

      <blockquote><a href="#256605"><em>In reply to skane2600:</em></a></blockquote><p>Yes, because they learned their lesson with WinRT.</p>

      • skane2600

        26 March, 2018 - 1:03 pm

        <blockquote><a href="#256630"><em>In reply to unkinected:</em></a></blockquote><p>I think the more plausible conclusion is that they didn't learn their lesson with WinRT. What they should have learned is that their users aren't interested in a limited version of Windows.</p>

      • mariusmuntensky

        27 March, 2018 - 4:38 am

        <blockquote><a href="#256630"><em>In reply to unkinected:</em></a></blockquote><p>They have not learned anything from any of their MASSIVE FAILURES. At least WinRT had a better touch UI and UX..Wincrap 10 on the other hand…</p>

  • Daekar

    26 March, 2018 - 12:29 pm

    <p>Glad to hear of the new angle at which you'll be approaching the tests, since it reflects how I would be using the hardware if I bought it. My secondary machine will always be Store-only if possible, and Office/web are really the only things I would do on a mobile machine with any frequency anyway. Look forward to hearing more.</p>

    • skane2600

      26 March, 2018 - 12:32 pm

      <blockquote><a href="#256615"><em>In reply to Daekar:</em></a></blockquote><p>But are most people going to have a "secondary machine"? IMO, most people are going to buy a single desktop PC and expect that it will do everything they want it to do.</p>

      • Daekar

        26 March, 2018 - 3:03 pm

        <blockquote><a href="#256620"><em>In reply to skane2600:</em></a></blockquote><p>Eh, I have no idea about other people. I have a desktop PC that DOES do everything I want it to do, and I built it that way. Portable stuff doesn't have to do as much precisely because it doesn't have to be the hub for our file backup and storage, gaming, and multi-monitor workstation.. I'm guessing most people don't do all that stuff, but who knows.</p><p><br></p><p>Maybe some people will buy a laptop and expect it to do everything they could imagine. In that case, this probably wouldn't be for them. I will say, though, that the normals I work with would NEVER know the difference.</p>

        • skane2600

          26 March, 2018 - 5:01 pm

          <blockquote><a href="#256662"><em>In reply to Daekar:</em></a></blockquote><p>"Eh, I have no idea about other people."</p><p><br></p><p>Well, I assumed that you spoke about your personal experience because you thought it was relevant in a broader sense. </p>

    • Stooks

      26 March, 2018 - 2:43 pm

      <blockquote><a href="#256615"><em>In reply to Daekar:</em></a></blockquote><p>"Office/web are really the only things I would do on a mobile machine with any frequency anyway.&nbsp;"</p><p><br></p><p>You sir are a perfect iPad customer since both of those run great on the iPad. You will get the added benefit of a store full of a million (or more) apps and crazy 3rd party support for you device. (cases, covers, keyboards etc).</p>

      • Daekar

        26 March, 2018 - 2:56 pm

        <blockquote><a href="#256653"><em>In reply to Stooks:</em></a></blockquote><p>So… I considered that but there are a few things in the way. 1 – Apple. Enough said. 2 – Mouse support. Gotta have it. 3 – Multi-tasking that isn't terrible, not optional. 4 – No way in heck would I get a tablet instead of a laptop. I've used a Surface Pro in several iterations and while they're great, I demand a stiffer keyboard and something that sits in my lap without teetering like a drunken giraffe. These tablets and 2-in-1 products are definitely not for me at any price above "practically disposable."</p><p><br></p><p>Besides, there is no substitute for "real Office." I might have limited tasks to perform on that hardware, but I have very specific needs within that task.</p>

  • Boris Zakharin

    26 March, 2018 - 12:45 pm

    <p>So what is the real world use case for this? If it's just UWP apps then it's Windows RT again. If the "miracle" x86 apps don't perform then they're just a curiosity, not a real use case. It's a bit like if you could emulate Windows on a Chromebook (via VM or whatever). Sure, it's a cool demo, but if performance isn't there, what's the point?</p>

    • RM

      26 March, 2018 - 2:39 pm

      <blockquote><a href="#256627"><em>In reply to bzakharin:</em></a>It gives you the ability to run a program in a pinch to get something done, even if it is snail mail slow. It also lets you run some Win32 apps that you could not run on the old WinRT. And you can do it on a notebook/tablet that has great battery, instant on, and great connectivity. It was never meant to or promised to do workstation like tasks.</blockquote><p><br></p>

      • skane2600

        26 March, 2018 - 5:23 pm

        <blockquote><a href="#256652"><em>In reply to RM:</em></a></blockquote><p>You're basically paying an extra $500-$600 just for the battery life, instant on, and connectivity (data charges not included). Everything else can be done on a $300 Windows 10 laptop that can run all the same Store apps and run Win32 programs faster. </p><p><br></p><p>It's funny how people around here talk about what "normal" users need but assume that they want to buy expensive PCs.</p>

        • sprewell

          27 March, 2018 - 4:13 am

          <blockquote><a href="#256709"><em>In reply to skane2600:</em></a></blockquote><p>No, you're paying $500-600 more for a nice-looking Full HD+ 12.3" tablet that comes with a detachable keyboard and stylus, accessories which don't come bundled with the comparable iPad Pro. Nobody is comparing this device to cheap, weak, $300 Windows laptops except for you, honestly a fairly brainless argument. If and when PC OEMs decide to release WoA devices at that lower price point, then yes, you'll be getting all of that at $300 or cheaper, so WoA would basically kill off that segment of the Wintel market, as nobody there really cares about win32 apps.</p>

          • mariusmuntensky

            27 March, 2018 - 4:36 am

            <blockquote><a href="#256844"><em>In reply to sprewell:</em></a></blockquote><p>And with a sub mediocre JUNK touch interface…yesss!! that's it.</p>

          • skane2600

            27 March, 2018 - 1:31 pm

            <blockquote><a href="#256844"><em>In reply to sprewell:</em></a></blockquote><p>Actually there's proof that I'm not the only one making the comparison. Sites have benchmarked this device against low-end Windows laptops and found that low-end Celeron-based PCs outperform it when running Win32 apps. </p><p><br></p><p>Of course people buying a device are going to consider what it costs and what value it provides for them. Personally I find 12.3" a bit small and I'd rather have a 15" screen with 1366 x 768 resolution than a smaller screen with 1080P, but that's me.</p><p><br></p><p><br></p><p><br></p>

            • sprewell

              28 March, 2018 - 2:15 am

              <blockquote><a href="#256986"><em>In reply to skane2600:</em></a></blockquote><p>And what do those benchmarking sites have to do with the "normal users" you claimed to be talking about above?&nbsp;In my experience, those normal users don't care about win32 apps, mostly just surfing the web and writing email, which is why I bet the sales of those cheap laptops have been devastated by mobile sales already. The only ones left are probably those who prefer a full keyboard or a larger screen that they can set down in front of them, at a very low price. It is true that emulated win32 performance is not that great, but that only matters for power users like yourself and many others on this site.</p><p><br></p><p>As for what people value, that's precisely the point: nobody is buying this device for great win32 performance.&nbsp;They're buying it because they want a detachable like the Surface Pro or iPad Pro, but that can run most of the apps of the former with battery life apparently better than the latter.&nbsp;That's a higher-priced, ultra-mobile segment that you can't compare to those who want great win32 performance or the cheapest possible device that will get them by.</p><p><br></p><p>As for screen resolution, of those two options give me the smaller, higher-DPI one any day. I recently used a Macbook Air for the first time in six years, and I was shocked how bad its ~720p display looked, like someone had smeared grease all over my glasses after six years of using only higher-DPI displays. And I had been using similar LCD displays for a decade prior, staring at them for many hours a day, so it's not like I hadn't used them just fine before.</p><p><br></p><p>My eyes have adapted to sharper screens and can't take an older low-DPI screen anymore.&nbsp;It is amazing that Apple gets away with such shit displays for their sheeple, at those high prices.</p>

              • skane2600

                28 March, 2018 - 1:08 pm

                <blockquote><a href="#257145"><em>In reply to sprewell:</em></a></blockquote><p>You told me: "Nobody is comparing this device to cheap, weak, $300 Windows laptops except for you,&nbsp;"</p><p><br></p><p>I've proven that statement wrong and now your claim shifts to what you imagine normal users care about. Apparently you and I have very different opinions on who "normal" users are. </p>

      • mariusmuntensky

        27 March, 2018 - 4:36 am

        <blockquote><a href="#256652"><em>In reply to RM:</em></a></blockquote><p>And for this to pay $1000 just because you're a desperate blind fanboy, eating any crap out of MS?? Again, no sane man would pay this for a crippled device…Reviewers like Paul yes, to review it, and of course those delusional fanbabies.</p>

  • Chris Payne

    26 March, 2018 - 12:53 pm

    <p>I agree with this (sort of) change of heart. You and most other reviewers are using this device in ways that MS doesn't believe they should be. I really hope that MS has the telemetry that tells them a large majority of Windows users can be completely satisfied using this "ultimate" S mode and the apps in the store. I hope, anyway, and hope that this wasn't a brainless choice by MS.</p><p><br></p><p>But all that said, I think MS is still missing a huge key part: Windows' UI is just not designed well for touch/mobile. That's where they need to get to. That, and pricing of these devices, which (I don't think) is any of MS's doing.</p>

    • skane2600

      26 March, 2018 - 1:00 pm

      <blockquote><a href="#256632"><em>In reply to unkinected:</em></a></blockquote><p>"You and most other reviewers are using this device in ways that MS doesn't believe they should be."</p><p><br></p><p>What??? </p><p><br></p><p>Ways that MS doesn't believe it should be used would include using it as a football or a doorstop. In terms of how it is used as a computer MS has set the boundaries. It doesn't do anything that MS hasn't enabled.</p><p><br></p><p>MS hasn't made any public statement describing uses they consider inappropriate. Some people just want to create excuses for MS. </p>

  • Wizzwith

    26 March, 2018 - 1:16 pm

    <p>Isn't Word 2016 compiled for ARM? That could explain the good performance vs. MarkdownPad which is not. </p>

    • Hougaard

      27 March, 2018 - 12:32 pm

      <blockquote><a href="#256639"><em>In reply to Wizzwith:</em></a></blockquote><p>Nope it's not. But MarkdownPad has an entire Chromium rendering engine embedded as a single monolith DLL that impacts load time greatly.</p>

  • RM

    26 March, 2018 - 2:35 pm

    <p>I agree with reviewing it for what it is supposed to do. I mean reviewing any low end notebook to see if it can run Sea of Thieves, do video editing, or CAD work is just asking for trouble. However, maybe you want to play a simple web based game, Trim a video with a UWP app, or view a PDF. That sounds more reasonable. For example, my mom could use it an be happy with it. My kids would like it better than their Chromebooks that they dislike (you know, the ones with no apps, crappy track pads, etc.). Although I don't know if price is in line.</p>

    • skane2600

      26 March, 2018 - 5:15 pm

      <blockquote><a href="#256650"><em>In reply to RM:</em></a></blockquote><p>Sure, MS added Win32 emulation because you're not supposed to use it. The denial is strong around here.</p>

    • mariusmuntensky

      27 March, 2018 - 4:33 am

      <blockquote><a href="#256650"><em>In reply to RM:</em></a></blockquote><p>No apps in Chromebooks? Grow up and get out of that cave you and other MS desperate fanbabies live in.</p>

  • Bill Strong

    26 March, 2018 - 3:15 pm

    <p>Its ironic that the most advanced programs available in the Microsoft store is WSL. Which is telling that it isn't supported in S mode. This device is not about productivity, it is about consumption. You know, the opposite of what Microsoft claimed Windows 10 was about.</p>

  • NazmusLabs

    26 March, 2018 - 3:23 pm

    <p>I expected you to do an important thing for this article, but unfortunately you didn't. I would open the task manager and see if Word 2016 is an ARM app or an x86 emulated app. You are surprised by Word 2016 launching fast, but have you not considered that it might be fast because it's native ARM Code. Do you not remember that Microsoft ported the entire desktop office suite to ARM in 2013. Do you think Microsoft would let that work go to waste and offer users a worse performing emulated Office desktop app experience when the ARM version exists?</p><p><br></p><p>Please upddate us on this, thanks!</p>

  • matsan

    Premium Member
    26 March, 2018 - 3:51 pm

    <p>Isn't looking at this device as another "iPad"-device a recipe for another Windows Phone-like disaster? </p>

    • mrdrwest

      26 March, 2018 - 7:41 pm

      <blockquote><a href="#256676"><em>In reply to matsan:</em></a></blockquote><p>How so?</p><p><br></p><p>It runs x86 apps emulated on ARM.</p><p><br></p><p>The iPad isn't even a contender, just like Siri is an artificial AI, that is – useless…IMO.</p><p><br></p><p>IMO, WOA is the iPad slayer…as soon as those lazy, turncoat Windows developers start writing apex UWP apps. </p>

    • Polycrastinator

      27 March, 2018 - 10:25 am

      <blockquote><a href="#256676"><em>In reply to matsan:</em></a></blockquote><p>I think it's the difference between competing with the market, and aping the product. They're not trying to make an iPad, just a device someone might consider instead of an iPad.</p>

  • mikiem

    26 March, 2018 - 4:01 pm

    <p>I think in Microsoft's version of a perfect world, all those Android [&amp; now Chrome] tablets, Chromebooks, and all of those Kindle products too, would be running Windows instead. The people using those devices don't think about drivers or app compatibility [for the most part anyway]. Most Android apps are pretty light weight compared to what you can get for a PC/laptop, so not being able to run a heavy weight x86 [of 64 bit] WIndows app may not concern them. </p><p><br></p><p>So maybe Microsoft is looking at past mistakes, acknowledging that they don't quite know what will find a market, and putting things in place slowly to see what the markets will buy, or at least accept, on their way to products that can compete with Android in it's own markets, the same way Google is targeting parts of the laptop market with their Chromebooks. And battery life via ARM seems a great place to start — last year if you wanted/needed that battery life you had two choices, Android or Chrome.</p>

    • skane2600

      26 March, 2018 - 5:12 pm

      <blockquote><a href="#256679"><em>In reply to mikiem:</em></a></blockquote><p>Compatibility isn't a big issue for Android and iOS because they've made few if any breaking changes to their OS's. Drivers aren't an issue because you can't install anything inside a tablet and the demand for connecting tablets to other equipment is almost not existent beyond a few basics. It's really an Apple vs Oranges comparison.</p>

  • Paul Avvento

    Premium Member
    26 March, 2018 - 5:41 pm

    <p>Microsoft needs to make sure that they market these products for what they actually are if they don't want backlash. The majority of people see "Windows laptop" and they have an assumption of what it will do. Like when Apple released the iPad people assumed it would do what an iPhone does but on a bigger screen, so it didn't matter if it couldn't do what their MacBook does. </p><p><br></p><p>Most people don't read tech websites to know the difference between ARM and Intel, or Windows and Windows S. This is why I fear the labeling everything as a Windows 10 computer, when in actuality there will be a divided subset of those devices. </p>

  • Roger Ramjet

    26 March, 2018 - 10:18 pm

    <p>Paul,</p><p>I think you are partly right. In fact you may be 100% right (You are the dear leader :-))</p><p>Basically your difficulties/turnabout/uncertainty here stem from Microsoft's problem where they want to jettison old windows but can't do without windows. So, I think ultimately you should test it both ways, and <span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent;">since you already went on the first branch you would be 100% after looking at it both ways.</span> </p><p>Here is the thing: to me it still does not make much sense from Microsoft's financial perspective if all this did is replace Intel PCs. The place where this does make a lot more sense is vs. iOS &amp; Android/Chrome. If this is the case, then the new approach is the more sensible approach for intended use. But, I guess Microsoft can't completely position it this way, a) the comparison is not that favorable from a store apps perspective (b) basically Microsoft's mindshare has been relegated to "productivity", so you play to what the consumer will remember you for.</p><p>And in truth it is something in between vs. x86/tablet, with more tablet than PC, which makes the emulation look functionally like putting a small gas engine in an electric car. Something to assuage the users' fear of being stranded on this "new" windows road trip. </p><p>Anyway, either way, expect very small volume units at least for the next 12-18 months (they have launched it in a way that makes it clear that is what they expect). Maybe they will launch the next refined version on also on cheaper ARM chips with the development focus not more emulated apps but more apps re/compiled for ARM, that's where they start to give ioS &amp; Android some competition on tablets, like the car analogy, the objective is you get the charging infrastructure in place and do away with the gas engine altogether</p>

    • Simard57

      27 March, 2018 - 2:10 pm

      <blockquote><a href="#256808"><em>In reply to Roger Ramjet:</em></a></blockquote><p>great analogy "like putting a small gas engine in an electric car" — like a hybrid and transitional capability</p>

  • Purian23

    26 March, 2018 - 10:59 pm

    <p>Meh, Paul's a chump. You don't even see him responding to his users. "Premium" or otherwise. Then he'll just block you on Twitter with one piece of Truth or commentntary he doesn't like. It's funny he made his career on Microsoft and then tries to dog them at the same time. Doesn't work out well in my book. They did one right thing here. Hire the best with mehedi. They got lucky with that guy. </p>

    • hgndtn

      27 March, 2018 - 12:43 am

      <blockquote><a href="#256818"><em>In reply to Purian23:</em></a></blockquote><p>He praised the RT tables when they came out too. Over time he changed his tune. Give it time. This is RT all over again.</p>

    • skane2600

      27 March, 2018 - 2:21 am

      <blockquote><a href="#256818"><em>In reply to Purian23:</em></a></blockquote><p>I gave you a rare (for me) down-vote for the personal insult. I often disagree with Paul but I don't think insults are a productive way to discuss issues.</p>

  • Hougaard

    27 March, 2018 - 12:12 am

    <p>Paul, MarkdownPad is perhaps not the best example out there for this. It's a .NET program with an "embedded" Chromium browser packaged as a component (the Awesomium SDK piece). It's comes out as a 30+ MB Win32 DLL.</p><p>So when loading MarkdownPad, this big DLL must go through the X86-&gt;Arm layer before you get to do a single thing.</p><p><br></p><p>But yes, it's a miracle that it works :)</p>

  • mariusmuntensky

    27 March, 2018 - 4:27 am

    <p>S mode? With what apps? No matter how you see this, this arm thing will FAIL. Poor x86 emulation, no ARM apps, no ARM drivers for 3rd party stuff, and a price that no sane man would ever pay…pathetic MS as usual.</p><p>Not to mention the simply sub mediocre touch experience on windows 10</p>

  • nbplopes

    27 March, 2018 - 6:54 am

    <p>Due to probably my age, 45 with still young children, with not as much time to dedicate to myself and resolving the hurdles of personal technology as when I was not a parent, and the need focus even more on getting things done, this article is symptomatic of the reason why I basically decided to move out of the Windows ecosystem for my personal and professional needs. I still use other MS products, like Azure and Visual Studio.</p><p><br></p><p>I for too long let MS have me going in circles when it comes to Windows in the context of personal productivity, content consumption and entertainment. I spent really a lot of money, really a lot, on their grand visions. I was for instance, probably one of the first to get into the Tablet PC bandwagon only to get dropped sometime after due to poor design (except for one piece of software, the Franklin Covey Tablet Planner for which these is no equal even today).</p><p><br></p><p>As I suspected, the ability to run Windows Desktop applications on ARM its mostly a bait to lure users to the almost non existent UWP ecossystem (call it S Mode if you will, but that is what it is). I don't think MS intended to be that when it started. They really listen to its die hard Windows community for which a hammer fits every look a like nail such as screws. They demanded … "if only if this could run Windows applications", in any kind of device, from mobile phones to thermostats. So here you have it, the most cost / capacity deficient Windows device to date. If at $1000-$1200 runs non UWP apps so slowly I can only imagine how it runs on a $300 machine (Chromebook prices). It might be a great technical achievement but a disaster in product design.</p><p><br></p><p>In a sense, its like Windows RT 2018 with a better buy/develop bait and more expensive.</p><p><br></p><p>Anyway, I do think the competition for these devices are the Chrome OS devices and the iPad (Pro or not), much like Windows RT was years ago. Nothing really changed much in this department… Well actually, a lot may have changed, but basically the same place is given to users, a tad more expensive (hence moving around in circles).</p><p><br></p><p>When it comes to an equivalent iPad (mostly by price) the only advantage is the mouse support, like it was for Windows RT. This might be a big advantage for some. When it comes to Chromebook/Android I guess the core advantage is the integration with Office 360, much like it was for Windows RT. The core advantage is that one can now easily dive into the muddy waters of Windows Desktop app compatibility and excruciate slowness (in comparison). </p><p><br></p><p>In other words, the result its an expensive and poor performing machine as a Tablet (content consumption and creativity) and even poorer as a Windows PC. Save the excitement around … whatever.</p><p><br></p><p>Congrats to this soon to be $499 device maxed out.</p><p><br></p><p>PS: But you know what? The bait might just work for some, after all its Microsoft + Qualcomm Innovation. Its interesting that MS did not launch a purer Surface Tablet based on this tech. Also predict some extremely good looking machines might be on the horizon only baffled by the pain of practical use in comparison with other options.</p><p><br></p><p>They really need to come out with a device that takes this technology and makes it worth it for users. Now a Surface Pro look alike almost as expensive?</p>

  • craig.martell

    Premium Member
    27 March, 2018 - 12:55 pm

    <p>Well, just dropped mine off at FedEx. I am eager for this kind of device to work, but it isn't there yet for me. Close, but no cigar. </p><p><br></p><p>The only really irritating aspect of all of this was the high pressure sales from HP when I tried to return it. First, she asked would I keep it if they gave me 50% off. I said "Absolutely". But she actually meant 5%. She clearly read the script wrong!!</p>

  • edboyhan

    27 March, 2018 - 6:13 pm

    <p>I'm confused (not so unusual 🙂 ). Were you doing your original tests in S-mode with W10Pro off, or were you doing the original tests with S-mode off and just pure W10pro? Is the new test regime going to be pure S-mode or pure W10Pro?</p>

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