Microsoft is promoting Windows on ARM, just months after Apple announced the Mac would move to ARM-based processors.
At Apple’s WWDC conference, the company announced it was abandoning Intel’s processors in favor of custom silicon based on ARM. The move has been widely seen as an industry-changing move, one that will force Microsoft and PC makers to follow suit.
In fact, former Apple executive and Be, Inc. founder, Jean-Louis Gassée predicted that Microsoft would follow Apple’s lead fairly quickly. A failure to do so would mean giving up the high-performance market to Apple.
“This leaves Microsoft with a choice: Either forget Windows on ARM and cede modern PCs to Apple, or forge ahead, fix app compatibility problems and offer an ARM-based alternative to Apple’s new Macs,” wrote Gassée. “It’s a false dilemma, of course. Microsoft will forge ahead…with repercussions for the rest of the Windows PC industry.
“Specifically, what are Dell, HP, Asus, and others going to do if Apple offers materially better laptops and desktops and Microsoft continues to improve Windows on ARM Surface devices? In order to compete, PC manufacturers will have to follow suit, they’ll ‘go ARM’ because, all defensive rhetoric aside, Apple and Microsoft will have made the x86 architecture feel like what it actually is: old.”
Microsoft is doing exactly as Gassée predicted, touting the benefits of Windows on ARM, including 64-bit emulation, which will allow the platform to run x64 apps. This will help ease the transition, much as Apple’s Rosetta layers will allow ARM-based Macs to run older, Intel-based software.
“We are excited about the momentum we are seeing from app partners embracing Windows 10 on ARM, taking advantage of the power and performance benefits of Qualcomm Snapdragon processors,” writes Panos Panay, Chief Product Officer, Windows + Devices in a company blog post. “We heard your feedback and are making Microsoft Edge faster while using less battery, and announced that we will soon release a native Microsoft Teams client optimized for Windows 10 on ARM. We will also expand support for running x64 apps, with x64 emulation starting to roll out to the Windows Insider Program in November. Because developers asked, Visual Studio code has also been updated and optimized for Windows 10 on ARM. For organizations, we’re committed to helping them ensure their apps work with Windows 10 and Microsoft 365 Apps on ARM64 devices with App Assure. We are working closely with Acer, HP, Lenovo, Samsung and Surface to bring these Windows 10 on ARM innovations and products to our shared customers.”
It looks like the tide is beginning to turn against Intel, and the company largely has itself to blame. The company has struggled in recent years, with supply issues and defects, as well as ongoing security problems in their chipsets that some experts have labeled “unfixable.”