With Microsoft Windows 10 running on almost 600 Million Devices, Microsoft’s goal of reaching 1 Billion devices is going at a steady pace. Recently Microsoft and Qualcomm officially unveiled the first ARM-powered Windows 10 laptops.
In case you thought that the above sentence was a typo, it’s not. Pretty soon, you can expect laptops from brands such as HP, Lenovo, and Asus to be powered by Qualcomm’s current flagship processor, the Snapdragon 835.
The initial devices would resemble 2-in-1 tablet or laptops that we see on a regular basis. What sets them apart would be the version of Windows 10 and the accompanying processor by Qualcomm that powers the device.
The new devices from HP, Asus and Lenovo would be “always-on” PCs. These are essentially eternally connected to an LTE connection. This in turn means that merely opening up the laptop should cause it to resume operation. Closing the lid would also mean that the device would go to sleep and not drain any battery.
The HP’s Envy x2 is a 2-in-1 packing a 12.3-inch display. It can support upto 8GB of RAM and upto 256GB of storage. In addition, the HP Envy x2 also has support for a stylus, and as mentioned above, has LTE connectivity. This means that it still be connected to the Internet even when not in an areas with Wi-Fi.
The Asus NovaGo 2-in-1 is slightly larger with a 13.3-inch HD display. It too supports upto 8GB of RAM and up to 256GB of storage. It too has support for a stylus as well. In addition, it has two USB 3.1 ports, an HDMI port, and a microSD reader.
Starting at a price of $599 for the model with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, the Asus NovaGo would scale upto $799 with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage.
Now running a fully-fledged edition of Microsoft Windows on an ARM environment is a tad difficult because apps just aren’t coded or optimized to work on them like that. Microsoft, on the other hand, showcased Adobe Photoshop running on an ARM version of Windows 10. They’ve also created an emulator to run standard x86 apps on the newly developed laptops.
Both of these devices would be running Windows 10 S. In case you can’t remember, Windows 10 S is designed to only run apps from the Windows Store. If you want to use regular apps, you can upgrade to Windows 10 Pro free of charge for a limited time. Microsoft has developed Windows 10 to run on ARM chipsets. This means that all Windows processes and the shell itself will run on the hardware without need for a separate emulator.
There are a few drawbacks though. For starters, while you will be able to download and install most 32-bit exe files to ARM-powered devices, 64-bit apps are not yet supported. In addition, Microsoft also isn’t supporting apps that use kernel mode drivers. So most third-party antivirus software will not work and also a majority of games that use anti-cheat software won’t work either. On the other hand, apps such as Microsoft Office and Chrome would run without an issue.
There is also the question of performance. With an ARM powered device, you can expect a battery life of around 20-22 hours. You would also not need to charge your device regularly, but you would also see a small downwards bump in overall performance.
While the ARM-powered devices do sound exciting, we will have to wait for proper benchmarks to see if they are as good as Microsoft says they are.
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