Microsoft first unveiled its plans for ARM-powered Windows laptops last year. The new devices will be powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 processor, and will support traditional desktop apps thanks to an emulator in Windows 10. While Qualcomm previously promised laptops before the end of the year, we haven’t heard much about them yet. Asus, HP, and Lenovo are all preparing devices, and it seems like battery life will be a key selling point.
During a Qualcomm summit in Hong Kong this week, Microsoft and Qualcomm dropped some hints at what to expect from new ARM-powered laptops. Trusted Reviews reports that Qualcomm is still committed to getting devices in the market in December, and that Microsoft is promising multi-day battery life. “To be frank, it’s actually beyond our expectations,” says Pete Bernard, a program manager at Microsoft. “We set a high bar for [our developers], and we’re now beyond that. It’s the kind of battery life where I use it on a daily basis. I don’t take my charger with me. I may charge it every couple of days or so. It’s that kind of battery life.”
Bernard describes the ARM-powered devices as a “game-changer” for laptops, and if the claims are true then this could make up for the fiasco of Windows RT. Microsoft previously promised great battery life with ARM-powered Windows RT devices, but that largely fell short. RT was a messy and confusing experiment that included a desktop mode that couldn’t run traditional desktop apps, and Microsoft will be keen to avoid any issues again.
In a separate interview with ZDNet, Bernard also claims initial testers were reporting bugs saying the Windows battery meter wasn’t working. "It turned out not to be a bug; it just has a great battery life,” explains Bernard.
We’re still waiting to hear when Microsoft plans to unveil these new ARM-powered laptops, and what kind of performance they’ll provide for desktop apps. Microsoft demonstrated Photoshop running on an ARM chip last year, alongside full video playback and Office support. The software giant has spent the past year testing and tweaking its ARM implementation, and we should be able to get a closer look at it later this year.