Microsoft said yesterday that it is paving the way for easier, faster Windows 10 computing on mobile devices with new support from Qualcomm’s Snapdragon ARM processors. The partnership, announced at a Windows hardware engineering event in China, could lead to new mobile products running Windows 10 “as early as next year,” according to Microsoft executive Terry Myerson.

The Windows 10-Snapdragon union could pose a threat to Intel’s position as the market leader in PC chips, a number of observers have noted. At the same time, however, Microsoft yesterday also announced it was collaborating with Intel to bring new security and artificial-intelligence features to PCs, with a focus on gaming and mixed-reality applications.

Together, developments like these could signal that significant shifts in the microprocessor market are on the horizon. They could also enable a second chance for Microsoft to bring the full Windows experience to mobile devices, an effort the company failed to achieve with its previous Window RT mobile operating system.

Targeting Windows Users on the Go

In a blog post about several announcements made yesterday in China, Myerson — who is executive vice president for Microsoft’s Windows and Devices Group — said the new Snapdragon-powered collaboration with Qualcomm is aimed at meeting “our customers’ growing needs to create on the go.”

“For the first time ever, our customers will be able to experience the Windows they know with all the apps, peripherals, and enterprise Relevant Products/Services capabilities they require, on a truly mobile, power efficient, always-connected cellular PC,” Myerson said. “With Windows 10 on cellular PCs, we will help everyone make the most of the air around them.”

By using Qualcomm’s ARM chips instead of Intel’s X86-based processors, Microsoft hopes to enable a new generation of Windows 10-native mobile devices like tablets and laptops. Traditionally limited to low-power applications, ARM chips are becoming increasingly powerful and bring the added advantages of support for longer battery life and cellular-based, always-on connectivity.

Second Chance for Microsoft

Thanks to “compatibility with the Windows 10 ecosystem, the Qualcomm Snapdragon platform is expected to support mobility to cloud computing and redefine how people will use their compute devices,” Qualcomm executive vice president Cristiano Amon said yesterday in a press announcement.

Myerson noted that the partnership will enable Microsoft’s hardware partners to “build a range of new Qualcomm Snapdragon-powered Windows 10 PCs that run x86 Win32 and universal Windows apps, including Adobe Photoshop, Microsoft Office and popular Windows games.”

Microsoft had previously targeted the mobile computing market with ARM-based devices running Windows RT, which launched in late 2012. However, that OS failed to gain traction among consumers, and production of Windows RT-based devices like the Surface 2 and Lumia 2520 tablets came to an end in early 2015.

Meanwhile, a new collaboration between Microsoft and Intel called Project Evo will aim to “further push the boundaries of personal computing” with smarter voice-machine communication, new virtual and mixed-reality applications, better gaming and “true always-connected computing,” according to an editorial penned by Navin Shenoy, senior vice president and general manager of Intel’s Client Computing Group.

“The work we are doing will help drive innovation in other areas too, from hardware-enhanced single- and multi-factor authentication powered by Windows Hello and Intel Authenticate for enhanced PC security to an even greater focus on connectivity — starting today with LTE,” Shenoy wrote. “This includes offering a wide range of PC form factors and price points that give people choice in mobility, whether they are carrying an ultra-thin and light notebook or a cool 2 in 1.”


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