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Microsoft Debuts ARM Powered Windows 10 PCs

A year ago, Microsoft announced it was working with its PC partners to bring Windows 10 to Qualcomm’s ARM processors. The resulting machines, part of the “Always Connected PC” ecosystem, would start rolling out before the end of calendar 2017, officials said.

Today, Microsoft provided a progress report on Windows on ARM at Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Tech Summit. Microsoft and PC makers ASUS and HP showed off new PCs running Windows 10 on Snapdragon 835 at the event – the Asus NovaGo and the HP ENVY x2. Lenovo is also working on its own Always Connected PC, but the company isn’t yet ready to share details.

The first devices are similar to 2-in-1 tablet / laptops we’ve seen with Intel-based processors in them, but they differ primarily because of the version of Windows 10 and Qualcomm processor that’s powering them.

Microsoft has worked with Qualcomm to create these “always-on” PCs so that they’re always connected to LTE connections, and work more like an iPad than a traditional Windows laptop. That means you open the laptop up and it should instantly resume, or you close the lid and never have to worry about the battery draining. These devices should have battery benefits and the type of LTE connectivity that we haven’t seen regularly in Windows laptops.

The Asus NovaGo has a 13.3-inch LED-backlit full HD display, is able to run 22 hours of video and can stay on standby for 30 days. It will start at $599 for 4 gigabytes of RAM and 64GB of storage. The $799 model will get 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage.

The HP Envy x2 features a 12.3-inch display. The HP device will last up to 20 hours on a single charge, or up to 700 (yes, 700) hours in “modern standby mode.”

HP and Asus will ship their Always Connected devices with Windows 10S preinstalled, but will give users the option of moving to Windows 10 Pro for free for a limited period of time.

Microsoft is providing OEMs with a version of its Windows 10 S operating system that works natively on ARM. It also is providing emulation technology so that Win32 apps to also work on Always Connected devices. Microsoft has natively compiled Windows 10 to run on ARM chipsets, so all Windows processes, Edge, and the shell all run natively without emulation. Microsoft has also looked at the top third-party desktop applications and natively recompiled a set of system DLLs that they rely on to ensure performance is solid.

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