from the well-armed dept.
Microsoft Windows is back on ARM:
Just shy of a year after announcing that Windows was once again going to be available on ARM systems, the first two systems were announced today: the Asus NovaGo 2-in-1 laptop, and the HP Envy x2 tablet.
[...] The Asus laptop boasts 22 hours of battery life or 30 days of standby, along with LTE that can run at gigabit speeds. HP's tablet offers a 12.3 inch, 1920×1280 screen, 20 hours battery life or 29 days of standby, and a removable keyboard-cover and stylus. Both systems use the Snapdragon 835 processor and X16 LTE modem, with HP offering up to 8GB RAM and 256GB storage to go with it.
Lenovo is expected to announce a similar system in the coming weeks.
Previously: Big Changes Planned by Microsoft - Windows 10 on ARM, Laptops to Behave More Like Phones
Windows 10 PCs Running on Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 to Arrive this Year
New Windows 10 S Only Runs Software From Windows Store
Microsoft Knows Windows is Obsolete. Here's a Sneak Peek at Its Replacement.
New App Allows Win32 Software to Run on Windows 10 S
Intel Hints at Patent Fight With Microsoft and Qualcomm Over x86 Emulation
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Microsoft wants its computers to be more nimble.
To that goal, the Qualcomm announced at Microsoft's Windows Hardware Engineering Community event on Wednesday that its Windows 10 devices will support the Snapdragon 835 processor, which you'll see in many top-tier phones next year. The chip will be able to provide Gigabit LTE connectivity, nearly double your battery life and pack it all into even smaller devices.
From the following story we get:
At its WinHEC hardware conference in Shenzhen today, Microsoft announced a range of hardware-driven initiatives to modernize the PC and address two big goals. The first is expanded support for mixed reality; the second is to produce a range of even more power-efficient, mobile, always-connected PCs powered by ARM processors.
[...] The second aspect of the push to modernize the PC is the desire for ever longer battery life, greater portability, and connectivity. To that end, Microsoft is bringing back something that it had before: Windows for ARM processors. Qualcomm-powered Windows 10 PCs will hit the market in 2017.
The truth is that Windows for ARM has never really gone away. The first Windows on ARM iteration was dubbed Windows RT, and it launched on the first Surface tablet. Although this system provided almost every part of Windows, just recompiled for 32-bit ARM processors, Microsoft locked it down using a certificate-based security scheme. Built-in desktop apps, such as Explorer and Calculator ran fine, as did the pre-installed version of Office, but third-party desktop apps built using the Win32 API were prohibited. The only third-party apps that were permitted were those built using the new WinRT API and distributed through the Windows Store.
With few such apps available, Windows RT and Surface didn't see much market success. Nonetheless, Microsoft continued to develop Windows on ARM, as it's an essential part of both the Windows 10 Internet of Things Core variant of the operating system and the Windows 10 Mobile version.
Traditional Windows apps can only run on X86 chips, not ARM—thus, the failed Windows RT. To get around this, Qualcomm (and only Qualcomm) is working with Microsoft to emulate X86 instructions, the companies said. [...] Sources at Microsoft and Qualcomm say the partnership is designed around the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, a chip that's in production now and is due to ship in the first half of 2017, according to Qualcomm. The first Windows-on-ARM PCs are expected by the second half of next year.
The ARM partnership between Microsoft and Qualcomm is notable as it expands Windows 10's existing support of x86 chips from Intel and AMD. It also looks set to overcome the constraints of Microsoft's previous ARM effort with Windows RT.
The Snapdragon 835 PCs will run full Windows 10 desktop, which has been compiled natively for Qualcomm's SoCs. They'll also run Win32 apps via an emulator, as well as universal Windows apps. Microsoft billed the forthcoming devices as a "truly mobile, power-efficient, always-connected cellular PC".
Microsoft has announced a new version of Windows called Windows 10 S. It only runs apps from the Windows Store, and is positioned between Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 Pro, both of which can run third party applications. Microsoft also announced a new line of Surface laptops running the OS. The laptops have been described as competing with either Google's Chromebooks or Apple's MacBook Air, and aimed at students:
Windows 10 S is Windows 10 with its wings slightly clipped: it can only run apps from the Windows Store, disabling compatibility with the enormous breadth of Windows programs out there, which in the educational context translates to better security, consistent performance, focus for students, and improved battery life. It's cheaper and less versatile than Windows 10 Pro, which is exactly what schools are looking for (and the thing that's had them gravitating toward Google's Chrome OS in recent times).
[...] Immediately upon its introduction, Windows 10 S spans a price range from $189 to $2,199 (for the top Surface Laptop spec). So is this a straightforward and affordable solution for mass educational deployment? Or is it a super streamlined operating system for powering extremely desirable and long-lasting laptops? Yes. Microsoft's answer to both of those things is yes. It's not impossible to achieve both goals with the same software, of course, but it is difficult to position the OS in people's minds.
[...] The Windows on ARM effort is going to be rekindled by the end of this year, and Windows 10 S is the likeliest candidate to be the OS of choice for those new computers, in which case the significance of the S label will once again be complicated. Come the holidays, buying a Windows 10 S PC could mean getting either an Intel or an ARM machine, it could mean cheap and cheerful or it could be a premium portable.
What do you think the 'S' stands for?
Microsoft's only choice to move forward is to throw the Win32 baby out with the bathwater. And that brings us to the introduction of Windows 10 S.
Windows 10 S is just like the Windows 10 you use now, but the main difference is it can only run apps that have been whitelisted to run in the Windows Store. That means, by and large, existing Win32-based stuff cannot run in Windows 10 S for security reasons.
To bridge the app gap, Microsoft is allowing certain kinds of desktop apps to be "packaged" for use in the Windows Store through a tooling process known as Desktop Bridge or Project Centennial.
The good news is that with Project Centennial, many Desktop Win32 apps can be re-purposed and packaged to take advantage of Windows 10's improved security. However, there are apps that will inevitably be left behind because they violate the sandboxing rules that are needed to make the technology work in a secure fashion.
"A casualty of those sandboxing rules is Google's Chrome browser. For security reasons, Microsoft is not permitting desktop browsers to be ported to the Store."
Citrix has launched an application specifically aimed at Windows 10 S, and thus published in the Windows Store, which makes it possible to run Win32 software even if it's not available in the Store.
Intel may be planning to sue Microsoft for its plans to include x86 emulation in Windows 10 for ARM machines:
In celebrating the x86 architecture's 39th birthday yesterday—the 8086 processor first came to market on June 8, 1978—Intel took the rather uncelebratory step of threatening any company working on x86 emulator technology.
[...] The post doesn't name any names, but it's not too hard to figure out who it's likely to be aimed at: Microsoft, perhaps with a hint of Qualcomm. Later in the year, companies including Asus, HP, and Lenovo will be releasing Windows laptops using Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 processor. This is not the first time that Windows has been released on ARM processors—Microsoft's first attempt to bring Windows to ARM was the ill-fated Windows 8-era Windows RT in 2012—but this time around there's a key difference. Windows RT systems could not run any x86 applications. Windows 10 for ARM machines, however, will include a software-based x86 emulator that will provide compatibility with most or all 32-bit x86 applications.
This compatibility makes these ARM-based machines a threat to Intel in a way that Windows RT never was; if WinARM can run Wintel software but still offer lower prices, better battery life, lower weight, or similar, Intel's dominance of the laptop space is no longer assured. The implication of Intel's post is that the chip giant isn't just going to be relying on technology to secure its position in this space, but the legal system, too.