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article imageMicrosoft, Qualcomm launch ARM-based 'Always Connected' PCs

By James Walker     Dec 6, 2017 in Technology
Microsoft's launched Windows 10 on ARM, a project that brings its desktop operating system to a new category of hardware. The company has partnered with Qualcomm to build Windows devices with smartphone processors, offering month-long battery life.
Since the advent of smartphones, there have been two main forms of processor used in consumer tech: Intel x86-based chips for PCs and ARM ones for smartphones and tablets. The performance of regular x86 processors has traditionally made them the best choice for PCs, with low-power ARM chips well-suited to mobile devices.
Always Connected PCs
The launch of Windows 10 on ARM makes it possible to run the full Windows operating system on an ARM-based processor. This lets you use Windows apps and a PC environment while retaining the benefits of ARM processors. The platform is targeted towards mobile workers who favour always-on connectivity and exceptional battery life over raw performance.
Microsoft and Qualcomm are publicly branding ARM PCs as "Always Connected PCs." They operate similarly to a smartphone, continually connected to the network and ready to receive new alerts. The display will turn on immediately when you return to your device. Unlike a regular x86-based PC, the processor doesn't need to switch between power modes to resume your work.
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Windows 10 PCs with ARM chips will have a battery life of up to 24 hours active usage or an entire month on standby. They'll be ideal for people who regularly use low-intensity applications for long periods away from the mains.
The audience for the devices might be consumer users or business customers looking for a fully mobile PC. According to Microsoft, ARM devices will be easier to maintain, more secure and cheaper to buy than Intel PCs, a set of advantages that will be recognised across all audiences.
"Microsoft and our partners have led many of these shifts in technology like enabling the original mobile computer – the laptop, navigating with touch, signing in with your face, detaching screens from keyboards, exploring mixed reality, and storing your files in the cloud," said Microsoft. "We are again at the beginning of another major technology shift, the ability to connected anytime, anywhere with Always Connected PCs that are instantly on, always connected with incredible battery life."
First devices
Windows 10 on ARM is currently a very new concept so there aren't many devices to choose from. ASUS has unveiled an Always Connected PC, its Qualcomm Snapdragon 835-powered ASUS NovaGo. It has gigabit LTE and a 30-day standby time. Alternatively, HP's ENVY x2 offers a kickstand form factor and 4G LTE2. Lenovo's confirmed to be making a device and other manufacturers are expected to follow.
With the benefits of ARM likely to be compelling for many general PC users, it's possible the new platform will meet with considerable success. That's bad news for Intel, a company which has had almost total dominance in the Windows laptops and convertibles space over the past decade.
So far, Intel's response has been to point out that its latest processors offer very similar characteristics to the new ARM models. They're capable of offering all-day battery life and the always-on connectivity that Microsoft is advertising for Windows 10 on ARM. It's likely the launch will spur Intel to step up its development of mobile-focused processors, fuelling innovation that will benefit consumers by increasing PC performance and battery life.
More about Microsoft, Windows, windows 10, windows 10 on arm, Arm
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