The first ARM-powered Windows 10 devices have begun to surface and the prospects do look promising, what with a battery that is claimed to last the entire day with no compromises on the performance front.
Microsoft said they have worked closely with Qualcomm to ensure there is no perceptible performance drop even though there is a slightly different version of Windows 10 running the show. While the laptop/tablet hybrid devices look and feel exactly the same as any current crop of Intel-powered Windows 10 hardware, the new devices have Snapdragon 835 at their core.
Also, the Windows 10 version comes with an integrated emulator that makes it compatible with x86 apps. Microsoft also announced they have included the DLL files that most third-party desktop apps need for their functioning. In other words, the end user isn’t likely to be the least aware of them working on something different other than the Windows 10 experience they have had so far.
That said, there is one major difference to be felt with the new ARM-powered hybrid laptops. They have that always on feel that we have known of tablets such as the iPad so far. What that means is that the devices will be ready for use the moment you open it, and will never drain battery once you have closed it.
It will always be connected to LTE network, which again is something that is more associated with smartphones than laptops. The benefits to this are obvious in that the notifications will be streaming in at all times.
However, there still are a few compromises to be made. For instance, 64 bit apps aren’t compatible yet. The same applies to apps that use kernel-mode drivers, which rules out the majority of anti-virus software from running on the new Snapdragon-powered PCs. A lot of games that rely on anti-cheat software too won’t be compatible as well.
Microsoft meanwhile has said their efforts with Qualcomm to launch ARM-powered laptops won’t stream down to developing anything with the smartphone form factor. Maybe the company might be tempted to think along such lines in future if its current efforts with a Snapdragon-powered PC fructifies though that’s wild speculation at best at the moment.
Coming to the best part, both Microsoft and Qualcomm are claiming the new devices to last around the 20 – 22 hours ballpark even under active usage. Anything even close to that will surely be a hit though only if that does not come at the expense of performance.
HP, Asus, and Lenovo are the manufacturing partners at the moment and all three have pledged to launch their respective take on a Snapdragon-powered PC by the next Spring. If that be true, a working preview can be expected at the CES as well due next month. On the whole, it seems an exciting year ahead that will mark a new era for Windows 10 PC on ARM environment.