Qualcomm and Microsoft combine to finally bring Windows to ARM devices

It’s a dark day for Intel as the chip giant now faces the biggest threat yet to its dominance of Windows devices.

Microsoft and Qualcomm have announced that they have finally found a way to run full Windows 10 on devices powered by Snapdragon processors. This will mean things like tablets, Chromebooks and even smartphones will be able to run the same programs currently restricted to just PCs, thus significantly shaking up the whole productivity industry.

Intel (and AMD) processors use the x86 instruction set at their core, while ARM chips don’t. Windows has always been designed to run on x86 chips, which is a major reason why Intel has faced so little competition in the PC space. Microsoft attempted to address this issue with Windows RT a few years ago but that was an utter waste of time since it didn’t support most Windows-based applications.

“We are excited to bring Windows 10 to the ARM ecosystem with Qualcomm Technologies,” said Terry Myerson, EVP of the Windows and Devices Group at Microsoft. “We continue to look for ways to empower our customers to create wherever they are. Bringing Windows 10 to life with a range of thin, light, power-efficient and always-connected devices, powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon platform, is the next step in delivering the innovations our customers love – touch, pen, Windows Hello, and more – anytime, anywhere.”

The Qualcomm canned quote was even more generic and self-serving, such that we can’t bring ourselves to even copy and paste it. Suffice it to say Qualcomm is great and it’s really excited about this announcement.

Snapdragon PCs running Windows 10 are expected to be available early next year. They are likely to be of the ultra-portable thin and light variety and it will be interesting to see if features we have come to expect of ARM-based devices, such as quick startup and long battery life, are retained when running full-fat Windows.

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