Microsoft feels Qualcomm Windows laptops will topple the MacBook

Qualcomm Snapdragon X Elite sticker on a Microsoft Surface Laptop deck with Copilot key.
(Image credit: Rael Hornby / Laptop Mag)

Since Apple adopted its ARM-based silicon chips, it's been at the forefront of laptop, tablet, and smartphone performance. However, all that could be about to change as Microsoft confidently claim that Qualcomm's latest Snapdragon X Elite ARM processors will be a game changer for Windows laptops and Surface devices going forward.

Sources familiar with Microsoft's ARM goals have revealed to The Verge that there is an aura of open confidence surrounding the performance capabilities of these Qualcomm-equipped devices, with several demos being planned to showcase the performance and AI acceleration potential of these devices compared to Apple's latest MacBook Air — outfitted with the M3 Apple silicon SoC.

An end to Apple silicon supremacy?

If the performance of the Qualcomm Snapdragon X Elite is able to topple Apple's latest generation of chips, as Microsoft claim, then we could be looking at a new era for ARM-based computing, as well as Windows on ARM — which has made considerable advances over the last few years after an otherwise turbulent and ill-supported existence.

One of its key troubles has been app emulation, which is essential for running software designed for x86-64 architectures. While Windows on ARM's capabilities in this area have expanded and improved, it has lacked the smoothness and efficiency as handling these apps in their native manner.

That being said, according to internal documents shared with The Verge, Microsoft believes that Qualcomm's chips will be of great benefit to this emulation process. Going so far as to claim that its new wave of ARM-based laptops will offer "Faster app emulation than Rosetta 2," which Apple silicon Macs make use of to perform similar emulations.

Qualcomm's "next-gen AI Copilot PCs"

While both AMD and Intel are offering NPUs in their latest lineup of processors, Microsoft has earmarked Qualcomm's Snapdragon X Elite-powered laptops to be at the forefront of its AI PC push.

According to the same sources, Microsoft plans to launch the latest of its AI PC features on these Qualcomm platforms first, ensuring they're always at the cutting edge of this new frontier's offerings.

At present, we're still looking for a real delineation of what an AI PC truly is, or truly will be. However, we do know that Microsoft is currently testing a number of AI features to be included in the upcoming Windows 11 2H24 update like expanded Copilot capabilities, an AI Explorer that tracks events over a timeline, and new Windows Studio Effects for video processing in virtual meetings and video calls.

Microsoft will likely have more to showcase on the AI front, but we'll have to wait for the company's scheduled AI PC showcase taking place on May 20, before its annual Microsoft Build event kick starts on May 21.

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Rael Hornby
Content Editor

Rael Hornby, potentially influenced by far too many LucasArts titles at an early age, once thought he’d grow up to be a mighty pirate. However, after several interventions with close friends and family members, you’re now much more likely to see his name attached to the bylines of tech articles. While not maintaining a double life as an aspiring writer by day and indie game dev by night, you’ll find him sat in a corner somewhere muttering to himself about microtransactions or hunting down promising indie games on Twitter.