Microsoft announced a partnership with Qualcomm today that will bring Windows 10 to devices with ARM processors.
One interesting tidbit of the announcement is that Qualcomm ARM processors will be able to run legacy x86 Windows programs.
This means that this is not another attempt at establishing a special Windows 10 RT version on the market.
Finally, to deliver on our customers’ growing needs to create on the go, we announced today that Windows 10 is coming to ARM through our partnership with Qualcomm. For the first time ever, our customers will be able to experience the Windows they know with all the apps, peripherals, and enterprise capabilities they require, on a truly mobile, power efficient, always-connected cellular PC.
Microsoft notes that hardware partners will be able to build a range of Windows 10 PCs and devices that are powered by Qualcomm processors.
These PCs will run x86 32-bit Windows programs, universal Windows applications. Microsoft mentions Adobe Photoshop, Microsoft Office, and popular Windows games in particular.
This is achieved through emulation according to Microsoft.
While that means that 64-bit programs are unsupported for now, it could open up additional markets for Microsoft’s Windows 10 operating system.
One reason why Windows RT failed so badly was that you could not run any Win32 programs on the device (other than the few that Microsoft modified so that they would run on RT).
Here is a short video by Microsoft that demonstrates Windows 10 running on a Qualcomm processor.
The desktop and start menu interface looks similar to that on PCs. You get the taskbar at the bottom with links to Edge, File Explorer and other programs, Cortana, and the start menu reveals that programs such as Adobe Photoshop 2014, Word 2016, PowerPoint 2016 and Eclipse Manager are installed on the device.
The device runs Windows 10 Enterprise, and is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor.
Features like domain join, Windows Hello support, and full touch and pen functionality.
Windows 10 on Qualcomm processors may result in new devices being manufactured that run Windows 10. This could pave the wave for new Windows phone devices. Think about it: the option to run legacy Windows programs — 32-bit but still — on a phone, that is a real game changer for many users.
Obviously, not all programs will run fine on smaller screens as they are not optimized for those, and some may not work because of hardware differences.
Could Microsoft be working on a Windows 10 Phone that runs on a Qualcomm processor? Could legacy Windows program support be the killer feature that Windows 10 mobile needs to make a dent in Android’s market dominance?
Lots of questions remain unanswered for now, but I have to admit that I’d be interested in a phone that runs 32-bit Windows programs such as KeePass, Thunderbird, Firefox or QuiteRSS.
Now You: What’s your take on the news? Marketing stunt or will something substantial come out of the partnership?