The first Windows 10 PCs with ARM-based chips are coming soon… like real soon.

Lenovo, HP, and Asus have all unveiled convertible notebooks or 2-in-1 tablets featuring Windows 10 and Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processors, and now Qualcomm has announced that the first of those devices will be available “beginning this calendar quarter.”

In other words, you’ll be able to buy a Windows 10 PC with an ARM-based processor by the end of March… if that’s something you want to spend money on.

Qualcomm says the first Always Connected PCs powered by its processors will be available from Amazon and the Microsoft Store in the US, as well as several other retailers in the UK, Australia, China, Italy, and France.

The idea behind these PCs is to combine the functionality you get with a Windows PC with the long-battery life, and always-connected-to-the-internet features that come with an ARM-based processor.

But it turns out that Windows PC with ARM chips won’t be able to do everything their counterparts with Intel or AMD processors can. There’s no support for x64 apps, for instance. Many drivers may not work, and some games may not either. Windows Hypervisor Platform isn’t supported. And there are some other types of apps that may not behave as expected, including those that add shell extensions (like adding features to the right-click menu in Windows Explorer).

Meanwhile, there are already some “always-connected” PCs with Intel chips and LTE modems that offer long battery life and low power consumption. So the value proposition of Windows on ARM isn’t entirely clear at this point… especially since prices are expected to start at around $599 for the Windows on ARM devices we’ve heard about so far.

Fortunately HP has given us a relatively simple way to compare Windows on x86 and Windows on ARM: the company has versions of the HP Envy x2 2-in-1 tablet that ship with both types of processor. The version with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chip is expected to offer about 25 percent longer battery life and be a bit thinner and lighter.

That means you have a choice between a 1.65 pound, 7.9mm model with an Intel Core processor and up to 15 hours of battery life and a 1.5 pound, 6.9mm model with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor and 20 hours of battery life. So it’s not like the Intel-powered model is an unwieldy machine with crappy battery life.

It’ll be interesting to see how these Snapdragon 835-powered PCs fare in the marketplace.. and if other ARM-based chip makers such as MediaTek enter the market with lower-priced alternatives that may make the proposition of a Windows on ARM PC a little more attractive to folks who were hoping not just for longer battery life, but also for lower price tags.

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18 replies on “The first Windows on ARM PCs will hit stores before April”

  1. Are these immune to Meltdown and Spectre? Because that is one reason I can understand why these might be useful.

  2. Call me a skeptic but my prediction is they don’t sell well simply because people don’t want to deal with worrying about the fine print of what will and will-not run once they have it. Then – in the face of less than great sales – Microsoft will abandon it within 18 months or so. Basically the same thing that happened to RT.

  3. It will be interesting to see what the return rate is on these devices. I doubt it will be as high as it was for Windows RT computers but I expect it will be higher than just about any other category of computer.

    1. I can see people buying these thinking it’s going to be a full Windows experience or may not even know it’s running on ARM (ie. those who go to BestBuy and buy what the salesperson points to).

      A few bad experiences will cause people to return these and swear off MS or ARM forever. Kind of like in sportniik’s comment above.

  4. Why does Microsoft keep on trodding forward with Windows on ARM? It doesn’t work because it removes basically everything that people want on windows… the software… the graphical games..

    Hopefully this time it fails they unlock the bootloader so people can install a real OS on it..like android

    1. If you think of them as a better alternative to Atoms then they make sense. Performance is similar, neither is suitable for games, but the WoA devices offer instant on and better battery life. The premium chassis design of early models suggests they are aimed at sales and marketing users.
      For historical reasons I use 32-bit Windows 7 at work and I haven’t found a single application that doesn’t have a 32 bit version.

  5. These show the lack of vision of understanding coming from the suits and executives that “know it all”. Find me a jackass in 2018 who doesn’t have a smartphone. Now find me a jackass who owns a smartphone and doesn’t understand the concept of tethering or a mobile hotspot. Next, find me a city that is not introducing more and more and more city wide FREE wifi hotspots. So for me or anyone else, I already have a ARM capable web connection in my pocket that can easily connect my non ARM PC to mobile data. Hey, did anyone else notice that data allowances are going UP UP UP? So in reality, the ONLY value in these PCs is their apparent battery life which does however come at a big cost. The cost is not price, but it’s compromised functionality! But the suits believe these are premium devices. What a crock of shit. Any wonder why Qualcomm is struggling? No vision. No understanding.

    1. Don’t be a chicken shit. If you down vote, have the balls to say something so I can squash your take. Coward(s).

      1. Perhaps people who may have valid counters to some of your claims might not think you worth engaging with given your dismissive tone. For example, if they valued integrated cellular modems, or live in a city without free public WiFi (like mine!), you preemptively calling them “jackasses” doesn’t lead to anyone expecting or wanting a decent conversation with you.

        1. Thanks dad. You can release any ridiculous device and certainly there will be a couple hundred people lined up, camping overnight to get one. Qualcomm and partners didn’t create these always connected PCs to fail, but they sure priced them to fail. If you think there are enough non smartphone users to justify the marketing and manufacturing costs then you are wrong. If the non smartphone packing person is the target market then it’s minuscule. If you feel that wifi free zones is a growth area, then certainly Qualcomm has a position for you. If you don’t have free wifi, just signal Google and they will send you a Google wifi balloon. Free wifi from Google, for everyone, all over the world and not just for the ad revenue of course! In closing, just because 10 people think something is neat doesn’t make it worthy of creating a new category. Paying for a data plan plus an expensive up front price is a fail. Battery life and instant on was/is the selling point.Thanks for the delightful conversation!

  6. From what’s known so far, I feel these are too expensive for the experience you’ll be getting. Anyway, interested in seeing reviews if these actually turn out as unremarkable as the leaks and earlier information make them out to be or if they’re actually pretty decent.

      1. I want to believe that they would remove some of the “premium” hardware/features and price these as slightly dysfunctional PCs which they most certainly are. Price the accordingly and then you have something. If you want to believe these are going to be something at the current price point and functionality, then I guess you are dreaming behind that headset there.

        1. I didn’t think I’d have to spell this out, but what I’m saying is that on paper and given my brief hands-on experience with Snapdragon 835 PCs, it’s hard to figure out what the appeal is.

          But I’d like there to be more competition in this space, so I want to believe that I’ll be proved wrong when I actually get to spend some extended time with one of these systems. It may be a case where you have to really use it to “get it,” and that while ARM-based PCs aren’t for everyone, they offer clear benefits for some users that help justify the price.

          In terms of hardware, it’s not surprising that they’re expected to sell for $599 and up. That puts them in the same range as flagship phones, and we’re talking about devices with flagship phone-like processors plus bigger screens, bigger batteries, physical keyboards, etc.

          The problem is that they’re not really competing with high-end phones. They’re going to competing with mid-range laptops. And that makes the price a bit tougher to swallow when you look at the relatively limited functionality.

          So I *want* to believe there’s something magical about these devices will make them compelling. But I’m remaining skeptical until proven otherwise.

          1. I was enthusiastic about this category at first. The biggest issue is that it’s a square peg in a round role. There is some broken functionality on the software side of things and that’s HUGE. I call that flawed to be honest. No fan, instant on and unheard of battery life are mouth watering. But again, if you can’t do all things because of the processor working with the software, it’s a bit of a sham. I don’t think there is any mystery or unknowns when it comes to ARM issues with Windows. Those are facts even stated by Microsoft. As you’ve mentioned, perhaps a low cost option like MediaTek can get the price to a level where shortcomings can be overlooked.

  7. Stopped using Windows 10 comps. cause I couldn’t used them. This fuc*ing update abducted my comp. and couldn’t use it. Only Win I still run are 8.1, 7 and XP, moved to Linux.
    Have a friend who is a dentists and he bought 5 new high end comps, send them back, cause he couldn’t do his job.
    What a shame, cause its a god OS, it just don’t let you use it. Its like main purpose of buying comp is, it will be updating and scanning … 24/7

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