Windows PCs with ARM-based processors have been around for five years at this point, but the product category hasn’t really taken off due two at least a few different factors including underpowered processors, a lack of software optimized for the platform, and prices too high to justify making those compromises.

The first PCs with Qualcomm Snapdragon X Elite processors are expected to hit the streets in the coming months, and there’s growing reason to think they could address those first two stumbling blocks. As for the third one? That remains to be seen.

Google

We’ve already benchmarks suggesting that laptops and tablets with Qualcomm’s new chips could be competitive with the latest Intel and AMD-powered systems, and should offer even better performance-per-watt, which means you could get similar performance and longer battery life, or better performance if you push a system to its limits.

But one of the major problems that’s affected Windows on ARM is that many Windows apps aren’t designed to run natively on ARM chips. That means the processor has to run even harder when running apps that are made for x86 architecture, because there’s some extra overhead involved in architecture emulation.

Qualcomm has hinted that its upcoming chips are fast enough that this won’t be as big a problem as it has been in the fast: in fact, the company believes most PC games will run smoothly on Snapdragon X Elite systems even if developers don’t port them to run natively.

But performance will certainly be best on apps and games that do offer native ARM versions. And so it’s noteworthy that Google has now released a version of its Chrome browser for Windows that runs natively on ARM processors.

It’s not like Google was opposed to supporting ARM up until now. The company already supports Chromebooks with ARM-based chips from MediaTek, Rockchip, and Qualcomm. And there’s been a native ARM version of Chrome for Mac since Apple started releasing Macs with ARM-based processors in 2020.

But Windows on ARM? It probably just wasn’t really enough of a thing for Google to even bother with.

The fact that Google is now offering an ARM version of its Windows browser both means that Chrome should run better on Windows PCs with Qualcomm chips, but also that Google thinks there’s a chance this platform could really take off in the coming years.

The new ARM-native version of Chrome should offer “faster and smoother” performance on all existing Windows PCs with Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 or newer processors, but Google and Qualcomm says they expect the biggest boost to come when devices with Qualcomm’s upcoming Snapdragon X Elite processor are available “in mid-2024.”

Hopefully we’ll see more companies offer ARM versions of their Windows apps in the coming months.

Now if Qualcomm and its PC making partners could just assure us that systems with Snapdragon X Elite processors will be priced competitively with models with x86_64 chips, then maybe we could cross that last roadblock off the map.

via Google and Qualcomm

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  1. Why anyone would be hopeful about the progress of faceless corporations who hate most people, and will with rare exceptions never give these computers with ARM chips the ability to even consider running something other than windows, is beyond me.

    1. I don’t think corporations are capable of having actual non-monetary emotions such as hate or love.. The x86 being a bit more open than ARM as a current preference.. I would love for a new battery technology on the scene to obsolete ARM’s current annoying stranglehold on our wallets.

    2. I completely agree, but at the same time, these advancements from these companies can help us as consumers. (how much of my opinion is clouded by the companies themselves and their brain washing, I am not certain lmao)

      In the case of a company like Apple, an absolutely disgusting company that tries to block their consumers at every turn, their M-series SOCs were able to bring lightweight laptops that have both great performance and GREAT battery life, something that x86/x64 hasn’t really gotten close to yet. I think the reason people might be hopeful is because it can make devices far more capable for the things people want/need to do. Me personally, I hate Apple (I hope that was apparent haha), but I also loved my M1 Macbook Air while I had it because it was honestly pretty affordable and worked so well in terms of performance/battery life.

      Also, not that I’ve tried it personally, but Asahi Linux on M1/M2 seems really impressive, and I’m genuinely surprised Apple allows that to be done.

      1. It’s give and take. In practical terms, even though Apple Silicon is the best in terms of performance per watt, they had to get there by designing the whole system around maximum efficiency at the cost of being unable to change out more or less any part, and if not quite being forbidden from using other operating systems, you’re still limited in your options. As time goes on, I see no new opportunities coming my way, only news of things I used to be able to do, say, or use being taken away, and Apple silicon just looks like more of that. Without the social benefit of the prestige of having a Mac, three extra hours of Battery life before I have to plug something in isn’t much of an opportunity compared to a choice of more than three operating systems or expandable storage or memory.
        Other laptops are getting over 7 hours of battery life, some as much as 12. People seem to think that’s “pathetic” these days or something but it’s crazy compared to what laptops used to get, and more than most people would ever need unless sitting on a plane or train for a day or more, which granted, having to do so to is certainly a mark of a successful life, and people should try to act successful if they want to be successful.
        Besides, I know I have a different definition of “help” and “good” from most people. That definition, for me, is freeing people from fear, without relying on lies and ignorance. Ten hours of battery life verses seven doesn’t do that. To me, the biggest benefit is mostly the glory of having the best, and that’s certainly important, after all, it’s the only reason they felt it was worth developing Asashi in the first place. It’s important enough that if Apple ever made a macbook with a 360 degree hinge and pressure sensitive stylus support I’d probably be unable to resist the pressure to stop being such an obstinate paranoid idiot and just buy what is so obviously the best.
        But I’d hate myself for giving in and having to effectively tell people I think apple’s marketing is okay.

        Other ARM laptops don’t have that yet, and if Snapdragon X Elite laptops are constrained to windows, they will continue to not have that. Oh sure I’ll score some points in the eyes of people who presume that just because it’s new it’s better and justify all the limits with battery life, but make no mistake, Windows 11 is an insufferably annoying OS without a Domain Controller keeping it in line, and as bad as apple is on the individual consumer level, Microsoft and Google are even worse on a greater social level.

        1. 100%. The only thing exciting about ARM(for me) is that I could eventually have the option to run linux on it. With qualcomm and microsoft’s agreement ending this year, it’ll remain my hope, that we see that. I’m similarly disinterested in Windows on ARM, it’s a terrible experience, where are the RSAT tools admins have needed? Why is it so emulation heavy? Get those AI skills going on bare-metal OS’s already(running machine language directly).