Windows 10 at a glance
In the previous part of this series, we saw that Qualcomm (QCOM) and Microsoft (MSFT) have entered into a partnership to bring Windows 10 inside mobile devices. Windows 10 is the most recent upgrade to the operating system, and Microsoft wants to make it suitable for the connected world.
Windows 10 is scalable and can be adapted to almost all hardware platforms, ranging from low-powered IoT (Internet of Things) devices to high-performing workstations and servers. The OS supports Universal Windows Drivers and Apps, as well as advanced features like the Edge browser and DirectX.
Microsoft’s Windows Everywhere strategy
To date, Microsoft has relied on Intel’s (INTC) x86 and Atom processors to offer Windows OS in PCs and tablets. After Intel discontinued its Atom mobile processors, Windows was no longer a part of tablets and mobile devices.
To support its strategy of Windows Everywhere, Microsoft decided to partner with mobile semiconductor giant Qualcomm to bring Windows 10 inside ARM processors.
What is Qualcomm’s role in the Windows Everywhere strategy?
The technology universe is shrinking rapidly as mobile processors are becoming as powerful as PC processors. Microsoft is looking to tap this trend by making Windows 10 adaptable to Qualcomm’s upcoming Snapdragon 835, which is being built on Samsung’s (SSNLF) 10nm (nanometer) node. Qualcomm noted that the 10nm chips would have 27% better performance and 40% longer battery life compared to the 14nm chips.
The Snapdragon processor would be able to support all Windows programs such as Chrome and Photoshop, as well as Win32 apps that run on heavy x86 CPUs.[1. central processing units] Microsoft would accomplish this by using an emulation process in which all instructions written for an x86 chip are taken, intercepted, and translated into the chip’s native instruction set.
Although this process would enable all of Windows 10’s features to run on mobile devices, there would be a difference in performance. The apps would perform better on desktops than on mobile devices. Moreover, Windows on ARM may not support Win64 apps, possibly to avoid any legal issues with Intel.
Which device will debut Windows on ARM?
Microsoft would initially focus on laptops and then move to other devices like smartphones and head-mounted displays. Qualcomm (QCOM) stated that the first device housing Windows 10 on ARM, whichever it may be, would be available in the market in 2H17.
This partnership would bring in several opportunities for both Qualcomm and Microsoft. We’ll look into this in the next part of this series.