Tech giant Intel has been facing formidable competition in recent years, but nothing compares to the most recent announcement by rival chip maker Qualcomm. In early December, news about Microsoft developing future versions of Windows 10 that will run on ARM processors prompted tech analysts to ponder when Qualcomm would respond to the news, and that day has arrived.
The Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 will be the CPU powering the next generation of Windows 10 devices; some will be mobile while others will be portable and desktop computers, but they will all have “always-on” connectivity and functionality. This is similar to the Microsoft Surface line of computing devices, but the company wants to take things a step further by giving users full desktop power that is faster and more responsive than a smartphone.
The new “Mobile PC” platform being developed by Microsoft seems to have been tailor-made for the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, a processor capable of delivering lots of processing speed with low battery requirements. At this time, Microsoft is no longer happy with the Universal Windows Platform, a solution that was at one point intended to rival Chrome OS and perhaps Android; the company wants to put Windows 10 on ultra-portable PCs that can run legacy Windows software.
Microsoft is building up on the quiet success of its Lumia 950 smartphone, which supports the Continuum protocol that enables it to be transformed into a full PC by means of a special dock. The Qualcomm processors that make Continuum possible essentially emulate the Intel x86 environment, but they do so with lower power requirements and with cycling that is less hardware intensive.
As expected, Intel has not welcomed the aforementioned news. The chip manufacturer has warned Qualcomm that it may direct its legal department to reach into its extensive patent catalog to bring up potential infringement complaints. As the situation stands, PC users are still more comfortable with Intel products powering their desktops and laptops, but the enthusiasm shown for the Microsoft Surface devices suggests that they may be ready to embrace a new era of personal computing powered by Qualcomm.
Hardware manufacturers such as ASUS and HP have announced Windows 10 tablets and hybrids powered by Qualcomm, with more devices to come in 2018. These ultralight devices are being marketed as “always on” and “always connected” solutions that are just as efficient as smartphones but far more powerful.