Microsoft Build will focus on Windows on ARM and taking down Apple Silicon MacBooks

Microsoft Build will focus on Windows on ARM taking down the MacBook Air M3
(Image credit: Future)

The Microsoft Build conference is almost here (May 21–23, 2024) and it will be hyper-focused on Windows on ARM, and all the current and upcoming AI features we will see this year. We’ve heard rumors of a next-gen Microsoft Surface featuring Qualcomm Snapdragon X Elite chipset, as the company appears hellbent on knocking Apple’s MacBook Air off its ultra-portable throne. Having seen the X Elite in action, it’s highly possible this could happen and bring renewed interest to Microsoft's Surface laptops.

Earlier today Microsoft put out a list of all the developer sessions planned for build mentioning “the next generation of Windows on Arm” and brand new “Windows AI features.” The next-gen session listing included details referring to industry-leading performance for applications, which allude to Microsoft's intentions of delivering a smackdown to Apple’s M3, and with all the leaked benchmarks we’ve seen that show the X Elite wiping the floor with it, and having been hands-on with it, yeah this could definitely be true.

Based on all we’ve seen, 2024 is working out to be the year where Windows systems powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon and Intel's Core Ultra chipsets will not only challenge but surpass Apple Silicon (via The Verge). 

Microsoft Build: What to expect

The upcoming Microsoft Build event promises exciting developments for Arm-based Windows devices. We can expect details on "new experiences for Arm-powered Windows this year," including intelligent Windows apps that leverage the power of the Neural Processing Unit (NPU). This likely points towards an expansion of Windows AI features, further hinted at in another session titled "We're showcasing brand-new features that allow users deeper interaction with their digital lives on Windows through advanced AI features."

This description strongly aligns with rumors of the AI Explorer feature coming to Windows 11. This feature, internally described by Microsoft as a way to "retrieve anything you've ever seen or done on your device," would function as a searchable timeline readily accessible on your PC.

Beyond Arm

Build promises to focus heavily on Developer Tools to leverage more powerful NPUs and improve AI performance. Microsoft Build also features sessions dedicated to building Copilot functionalities and even plugins for the AI assistant. Additionally, the team behind Windows Terminal, Dev Home, PowerToys, and the Windows Subsystem for Linux will be detailing further improvements to the Windows developer experience

Final thoughts

Microsoft is pouring all of its efforts into creating an ecosystem of AI PCs that not only challenge Apple devices, but surpass them. This is a massive challenge for the Redmond-based company. When you consider that this all depends on multiple different chipsets (Intel, Qualcomm, and eventually AMD) continued successful development, driver updates, and OEMs building systems that take the maximum advantage of the new chipsets and developer AI tools. That's a lot of moving parts, from many different companies, that in many cases have to partner up to create industry-wide standards that work for all. 

Meanwhile, Apple enjoys its closed castle walls at Cupertino building its proprietary closed ecosystem that has become a consumer favorite due to ease of use.

No matter what, it's highly probable that Microsoft will be unable to put a dent in Apple's business because the ecosystem and macOS are an X factor that is hard for Microsoft to overcome. However, with Apple super focused on Spatial computing with the Apple Vision Pro, Microsoft and other Windows laptop makers may find they have a valuable opportunity to win over buyers that are less impressed by Apple's latest.

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Mark Anthony Ramirez

Mark has spent 20 years headlining comedy shows around the country and made appearances on ABC, MTV, Comedy Central, Howard Stern, Food Network, and Sirius XM Radio. He has written about every topic imaginable, from dating, family, politics, social issues, and tech. He wrote his first tech articles for the now-defunct Dads On Tech 10 years ago, and his passion for combining humor and tech has grown under the tutelage of the Laptop Mag team. His penchant for tearing things down and rebuilding them did not make Mark popular at home, however, when he got his hands on the legendary Commodore 64, his passion for all things tech deepened. These days, when he is not filming, editing footage, tinkering with cameras and laptops, or on stage, he can be found at his desk snacking, writing about everything tech, new jokes, or scripts he dreams of filming.