Windows Phone / Windows 10 Mobile is finally dead. Yeah, it has been dead for some time, but the final nail in the coffin just came from Microsoft, and the company has not only changed the rule, they technically re-wrote it with the announcement of Windows 10 on ARM.
The announcement was made at the 2016 WinHEC conference in Shenzhen, China. Full Windows 10 for PC is coming to ARM in 2017. Only time will tell if this is going to be a success, but let’s get to know whats in it.
App Gap, Slow Development, Microsoft vision of getting (Universal) Apps, and not able to compete in the dominated segment of the mobile, and more. They had been the major blocks where Microsoft failed.
So Instead of building or rewriting a mobile platform, Microsoft first changed the course by introducing One Core for Windows 10 on PC, Tablet, and Mobile, and then decided to run a full-fledged Windows 10 on ARM which in turn can run on any form factor, including PHONES.
How does it all happen? Well, Satya Nadella, Microsoft Chief, had been talking about a paradigm shift, Continuum, PC factors, and with this, all have been answered. Of course, only time will tell if “Cellular PC” will be a thing of future, but Microsoft has blown the whistle of the new war.
Windows 10 on ARM aka “Cellular PC”: It’s all about Windows 10
Is it really the “mobile”, Microsoft talking about? IMO the answer is NO. It’s about Windows 10 that runs on any device, any hardware. If an OEM wants to deliver Windows 10 on a small factor, you can call it a phone, else you call it Tablet or Laptop.
Simply put, Microsoft wants to answer tons of questions with one shot.
- App Gaps.
- Development Cost: There is no need to port your apps to even Universal Apps now.
- The future of Continuum: Since even phones can have full Windows 10, you get the same features, when you protect it to a big screen.
Why does ARM Matter?
ARM has been primarily used for Phones. Since most of the consumers don’t use heavy software like on PC, ARM had been the best option as it consumes less battery, and produces less heat.
Over a decade, the processing power of ARM processors have improved, and its good enough to run OS on it. Though it does need OS to be ready for it. Microsoft just did that. Windows 10 is ready for ARM.
Windows 10 on ARM == Full Windows 10 + Longer Battery Life + Less Heat + All Form Factors + All Apps
Looks beautiful right?
The Challenges with ARM:
It is easier said than done. While Windows 10 can run x86 Apps and software, things will have to be streamlined to deliver a smooth experience. Hardware Partners will have to come up with form factors including phone-based an ARM. I am guessing even Software will have to be tuned for this. And this is going to take time. It’s not going to happen overnight.
Technically Windows 10 now runs on ARM, but its a different ball game when you want to deliver it to consumers. Cost, Performance, Cellular Support and there are so many things that get into the picture. This is the reason why Microsoft will take another year to get this done.
Qualcomm Snapdragon to support full Windows 10
The first step has been already taken with Qualcomm. Microsoft has announced today that the companies are working together to bring Snapdragon processors to support full Windows 10. This is huge, becomes this is going to be the foundation for those phones. The company has plans to bring x86 emulation on Windows 10 to run WIN32 Apps.
Hardware partners will be able to build a range of new Qualcomm Snapdragon-powered Windows 10 PCs that run x86 Win32 and universal Windows apps, including Adobe Photoshop, Microsoft Office, and popular Windows games.
Windows 10 will support eSIM which will allow one to get a new SIM over Windows Store, and the need of physical sim will die off slowly. This, of course, will need partners to support it and will vary from country to Country.
Of course, Microsoft isn’t killing the physical SIM slots, at least not now.
“Surface Phone”? Seems like the picture is little more clear
Satya Nadella had always talked about an ultimate mobile device aka the rumored Surface Phone. Post this announcement of Windows 10 on ARM, looks like Microsoft is planning to distrust again with a new category of device, just like they did with the surface.
Surface Phone could be the first Mobile device to run full Windows 10, support X86 Apps, work as your Desktop when connected to the external display, and so on. This is what they are calling as “Cellular-PCs”, a phone which can do everything you could have done on your PC.