Qualcomm has announced that the first ARM-based mobile PCs running Windows 10 are on the way.
Asus, HP, and Lenovo are the first device makers to confirm they’re working on ARM-based Windows 10 computers. And according to Qualcomm, all of those upcoming device will be fanless computers.
Microsoft has been working on a version of Windows 10 that can run on ARM chips, and we’ve known for a while that the Snapdragon 835 would be the first to support that operating system. Unlike past attempts to bring Windows to ARM, the version that will run on these upcoming devices supports Win32 apps as well as Universal Windows Platform apps downloaded from the Windows Store.
That’s thanks to emulation technology which allows Qualcomm’s ARM-based chip to run software that’s been compiled for x86 architecture.
Wondering why you’d want to run Windows 10 on an ARM-based PC? At a time when there’s no shortage of small, cheap, fanless tablets and notebooks with Intel chips, that’s a reasonable question.
But Qualcomm says there are a few advantages to its platform. First, the integrated X16 LTE modem enables support for cellular connections at up to Gigabit speeds.
Second, the company says its chips offer up to 50 percent longer battery life than competing solutions… in some scenarios. The difference isn’t all that great when you’re doing things like editing documents. But Qualcomm says it’s chips enable longer run time while web browsing, video conferencing, watching videos, or playing games.
The difference is even greater in standby mode, where Qualcomm says you get smartphone-like standby time in a laptop-style package. Note that Qualcomm is comparing “connected standby,” though, which is a newish thing for laptops, allowing your laptop to sync data, instantly resume, and generally offer smartphone-like features whether you have an Intel or ARM chip.
Third, Qualcomm’s solution may be able to fit into smaller spaces than computers with Intel or AMD chips. While laptop and tablet motherboards are a lot smaller than they used to be, a PC with a Snapdragon 835 processor can essentially have a phone-sized system board, leaving more room in the case for a battery and other components… or just leading to thinner and lighter Windows computers.
Update: Mobile Geeks has posted a demo video of Windows 10 on ARM from Computex, showing a device running a Win32 app downloaded from the internet as well as Windows Store apps.