Full Windows Finally Coming to ARM-Powered PCs

Microsoft is bringing Windows 10 to another group of processor. The company announced a partnership with Qualcomm that will enable Windows 10 to run on mobile computers powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon processors.

And when Microsoft says that Windows 10 will run on Qualcomm's processors, it really means just that. Making the announcement at its Windows Hardware Engineering Conference in Shenzen, China, Microsoft said the Snapdragon-powered machines will be able to run both universal Windows apps along with x86 Win32 via emulation technology.

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In other words, those Qualcomm-based machines are going to be run Adobe Photoshop alongside Microsoft Office and other Windows apps. And they'll be able to support features like full-touch and pen functionality found on Wintel laptops, according to a Microsoft-produced video showing off Windows 10 running on a Qualcomm processor.

That's a critical point, because it avoids the mistakes of Windows RT, Microsoft's earlier effort to run Windows on ARM microprocessors. RT couldn't support legacy apps, leaving users cold. Adding support for Win32 apps should prevent history from repeating itself with this effort to bring Windows to ARM-based machines.

But what kind of machines can we expect? In its version of the announcement, Qualcomm touted mobile, power-efficient cellular PCs — devices with "thin, fanless designs and long battery life," according to Qualcomm executive vice president Cristiano Amon in a statement announcing the partnership. That sounds an awful lot like tablets and possibly some ultra-thin laptops. 

Neither Microsoft nor Qualcomm announced any hardware partners, but both companies claimed you might be able to see Qualcomm-powered mobile devices running Windows 10 as soon as 2017.

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