Microsoft just launched a version of Windows 10 that will run on low-powered ARM hardware. Unlike Windows RT, the version of Windows 8 that powered the original Surface and Surface 2, this is a full version of Windows 10 with an emulation layer that allows it to run traditional desktop apps from outside the Windows Store.
Why Is Microsoft Putting Windows 10 on ARM?
ARM is a different type of processor architecture from the standard Intel x86 and 64-bit Intel architecture used on PCs today. (Even AMD produces chips that are compatible with Intel’s architecture.) Mobile devices like the iPhone, iPad, and Android phones—along with many other smaller devices—have ARM chips instead of Intel chips inside them.
Low-powered ARM PCs have some advantages over traditional x86 ones (which are most of the desktops and laptops we use today). ARM PCs have built-in LTE cellular connectivity, often offer better battery life than Intel and AMD CPUs, and the hardware is less expensive for manufacturers.
Microsoft would like Windows 10 to run on ARM hardware so it can reap those benefits. Sure, you probably won’t use an ARM desktop any time soon, but ARM could be a great choice for tablets, 2-in-1 convertibles, and even smaller laptops.
Rather than creating a more limited version of Windows for this platform, like they did with the failed Windows RT, Microsoft has decided to release a full version of Windows 10 for ARM hardware, one that can even run traditional Windows desktop applications.
The resulting devices are designed to be “Always Connected” and promise up to 20 hours of active use and 700 hours of “Connected Modern Standby”. And they can even run traditional Windows desktop software.
Microsoft first announced a partnership with Qualcomm to create Windows on ARM at WinHEC in December, 2016.
It Can Run x86 Desktop Programs
This isn’t just Windows RT all over again. Windows RT didn’t allow you to run traditional desktop software. It even blocked developers from compiling their desktop applications for ARM processors and offering them to users. Windows RT only allowed apps from the Windows 8 Store.
Windows 10 on ARM…
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