Apple brings the heat with its M1 ARM processor, but takes different direction than Microsoft

Apple M1
Apple M1 (Image credit: Apple)

Apple today gave its typical launch event for refreshes to its existing MacBook line of laptops. However, this year was more significant, as Apple finally unveiled its octa-core M1 processor based on the current A14, but with a little extra oomph behind it.

Along with the announcement came the usual hyperbole without any semblance of data or details on what it is being compared to the M1. But there is also little doubt that Apple can deliver some impressive hardware, and the M1 is undoubtedly going to be a fast chip.

Here are a few takeaways from Apple's event and what it means for the broader mobile PC market.

1. New chip, but same old laptop

Apple Macbook Air 2020 Arm

Source: Apple (Image credit: Source: Apple)

One of the immediate observations from Apple's new MacBook Air and MacBook Pro 13 is … they're the same laptops as last year.

That's not a critique, however. Apple feels its chips are powerful enough to beat last year's offerings from Intel without disappointing customers. It remains to be seen if that is true, but the strategy is a straightforward swap out. It plays to Apple's strengths.

But Windows on ARM has taken a radically different approach. With a smaller chipset and no need for fans, Microsoft and its partners have used the technology to push the boundary of modern PCs. Surface Pro X is like an iPad Pro that runs Windows; Lenovo's Flex 5G gets 15 hours of battery life and is the first PC in the world with full 5G; Samsung's Galaxy Book S is ridiculously thin and light, etc. Even HoloLens 2 runs on ARM.

A PC like Surface Pro X cannot be made with Intel chips at this time. That is why Microsoft made a whole new device, which is overall better than Surface Pro 7. Microsoft could have gone the lazier route and just made a Surface Pro 7 with ARM, but instead, they chose to deliver a different (and improved) experience.

Neither strategy is better or worse than the other, but it is a difference that is worth noting.

2. Apple M1: But how much faster?


Source: Apple (Image credit: Source: Apple)

Apple played fast and loose with numbers and comparisons between its M1 chip and what we presume is the latest from Intel (and you can't forget AMD).

Apple is hilariously vague in its claims, showing charts comparing its CPU and GPU to the "latest PC laptop chip" (whatever that means). The charts have simple labels of "performance" and "power consumption" with no X or Y-axis values.

Of course, the Apple chip is higher on the chart and has a more pleasing trajectory, but anyone who works with numbers knows that graph is entirely meaningless. The difference could be massive, or it could be tiny – we don't know because not only do we not see the comparison chip, but we don't know how they performed on the test (and which test) or what the actual figures are. That's not science, that's marketing.

I do not doubt Apple's M1 is fast and can compete with Intel 10th Gen, but that is just a benefit of the doubt and not based on any data.

3. 4G LTE and 5G are nowhere to be seen

Lenovo Flex 5g Verizon 5g Speedtest

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

Even though Apple ships its iPads with an option for LTE and its new iPhones are 5G-based, these new ARM-based MacBooks do not offer either. It's an odd move, as you would think, with so much extra battery life, improved performance, and the ability to run iOS apps (built for cellular, ahem), Apple would have added non-Wi-Fi connectivity.

Interestingly, Apple's strategy is the exact opposite of Microsoft and its partners. The whole premise of "Always Connected PCs" that run on ARM is, well, the always-connected bit.

Sure, you can buy Surface Pro X and never use cellular data on it, but the value of that device is diminished. The ability to seamlessly be on the internet all the time is the main reason I use ARM-based Windows PCs.

4. Windows on ARM PCs are vastly different from Apple

Surface Pro X Sq2 Flat

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

Apple knows its audience: self-proclaimed "creatives" who focus on video, multimedia, photos, and some engineering and software development (usually for Apple apps). What's not its strong suit? Business and productivity.

Windows 10 on ARM PCs, generally speaking, support inking, improved battery life, touch displays, and offer 4G or 5G always-on connectivity.

By comparison, Apple's MacBooks with M1 only do one of those things: improved battery life (and likely performance).

That is fine, as many people may not want a touch screen, pen support, or LTE. But for anyone buying a Surface Pro X, those are the reasons.

Of course, with Apple merging everything, perhaps we'll get an iPad Pro that can run macOS apps, completing the strategy. That seems probable.

5. Apple embracing ARM validates Microsoft and Windows on ARM

Myerson Windows 10

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

Apple implementing ARM-based silicon in its premier laptops won't directly impact Windows on ARM apps. There may be some obscure dev tools that overlap, but for the most part, Apple's announcement does not affect Microsoft.

But there is a more general, almost meta benefit: ARM is justified for use in computers.

Ever since Microsoft announced Windows on ARM support, many naysayers thought it was a fad or an experiment for PC makers. It is not like there isn't some truth to it as NVIDIA Tegra was a thing for a few years with Windows 8 tablet PCs until it wasn't.

Apple embracing ARM for PC does create interest in the ARM architecture beyond smartphone usage. It helps generate consumer interest and knowledge about technology. And it is probably not a stretch to think some Windows PC makers may be eyeing some new laptops to compete with the MacBook Air – after all, they have already been doing that for years.

Today's announcement from Apple is a welcome one for anyone who enjoys "silicon diversity." Google recently updated Chrome OS to support ARM, too, and it is no coincidence that Microsoft was the first four years ago.

Apple and Intel are now in a profoundly serious battle with Qualcomm, who will have to go nuclear on making a competitive chip to stay relevant. It also puts pressure on PC makers to price ARM laptops more competitively.

Let's hope that happens soon because it is clear ARM will play a significant role in mobile computing.

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.

  • The biggest benefit for MS is Point #5. Hopefully the naysayers, and more importantly, developers will not be immediately dismissive any longer. Let's see if MS can spring board this into some momentum to enhance the WoA strategy overall.
  • It's not that bad thaz this happens half a year before releasing Windows 10X either.
  • Won't developers then be motivated to make ARM Mac apps? This doesn't make sense unless they are cross platform, which I am sure they aren't.
  • Qualcomm really need to step up their game. Apple has been beating them on power for a few years now.
  • And always will. When you produce the hardware you are always better off producing your own chip as well. Hence Microsoft started custom chips for their Surface line as well.
  • Those are not custom chips, those are slightly modified off the shelf chips. You can say that XBox has a custom chip as at least it is a heavily modified existing chip. But even that is far far from the chip that the company builds from the ground up.
  • That has more to do with ARM the company itself, however that will possibly change with the Cortex X1 cores that are designed from the ground for laptops. Apple went with a 2 high power cores where each consumes more energy for their phones instead of 4 high power cores where each consume less energy, this allowed Apple to scale their SoC to have 4 high power cores on laptops, Qualcomm on the other can't double the cores because they already use 4, that however is going to change with the new Cortex X1 as this core has the same approach as the cores that Apple makes.
  • I have no doubt these chips are going to be fast for what they are, if there is one thing Apple is good at, it's designing proprietary chipsets that absolutely trounce the competition. It looks like the main goal is improved battery life, at least for the first generation, which is more than fine.
  • I think the difference between the Qualcomm and Apple flagships are marginal at the most. There's only so much difference you can get from same number of cores at same technology node clocked at almost the same frequency and power envelope. Yes there may be architectural differences that yield some performance differences, but chip design is in some ways pretty standardized, there are only so many known techniques out there from the most skilled designers in the game. By far what creates the apparent difference is the software. Qualcomm's chips have traditionally been used in Android while Apple's have been used in iOS. The Android OS stack is simply not as efficient (for various technical reasons such as the virtual machine). I am curious to see how the M1 will compare with Qualcomm's SQ1 or SQ2 on native for native comparisons between Windows and MacOS.
  • I think the difference between the Qualcomm and Apple flagships are marginal at the most. There's only so much difference you can get from same number of cores at same technology node clocked at almost the same frequency and power envelope. Yes there may be architectural differences that yield some performance differences, but chip design is in some ways pretty standardized, there are only so many known techniques out there from the most skilled designers in the game. By far what creates the apparent difference is the software. Qualcomm's chips have traditionally been used in Android while Apple's have been used in iOS. The Android OS stack is simply not as efficient (for various technical reasons such as the virtual machine). I am curious to see how the M1 will compare with Qualcomm's SQ1 or SQ2 on native for native comparisons between Windows and MacOS.
  • It would be interesting to see them compared with each running similar versions of Linux.
  • Are you serious? The difference (native vs native) is around 70% faster per core for Apple, it's like night and day...
  • Nah, the main goal is to get off of Intel, while not losing anything. If they do better at some stuff, battery life, performance, fan-less...bonus for now.
  • Whoever made that graph has a career in politics ahead of them. Making random statements with pretty pictures and no quantifiable metrics or evidence should not be part of any kind of announcement that the world cares about.
  • It's fascinating really, I'm amazed that not a single quantifiable metric was shown - not even the basis of the test. At least show comparative video render times or something, anything. Some tangible comparison. Makes me suspect performance is not as great as Apple wants to project. And compared to what processor? Dual core i5? Quad core i7? AMD Ryzen 4000? 10th Gen or 11th Gen?
  • It's definitely not compared to Ryzen 4000, there is no way Apple can compete with those.
  • I'm way more intrigued by Cloud PC and this whole "MetaOS". I think they have the apps across enough platforms to pull this off, Apple is catching up to something that I don't even think is the real future of computing, just a mere branch on the tree...
  • Apple is going to be beaten by... chatbots. Oh wait it doesn't work. PWAs. Oh wait it doesn't work. Dual screen... hmm it isn't likely to work. Oh we've got a fresh take, MetaOS!!! Apple deals with the past technology while we successfully reinvent the future every 6 months!!!
  • I don't think that Windows on ARM devices need to be always connected. I would love to use these devices if they ran faster and had better battery life compared to Intel devices. I know I don't have the money to pay for my PC to always be connected to a cell phone provider.
  • I've got an spx and it will never be on lte. Why spend extra money when I can just tether it at no cost? I bought it for the improved battery life over the trash sp7 I had.
  • You are only talking $10-20 per month. That's a bit dependent on what your phone plan looks like, and how much data you actually need, or allow to happen.
  • You've got an extra 10 to 20 a month to spend for no reason? I wish I had your income. Wife is a med student, I'm a law student, but there is no situation where I will burn money for no reason, even when we are making good incomes.
  • The biggest benefit I see from Apple transitioning to ARM is that it will indirectly help Windows on ARM's ecosystem as well. Adobe, DaVinci are a few that are already porting their apps to Apple silicon, and since they have already done the work to get it working on Apple on ARM, why not make it work on Windows on ARM while they're at it? It won't replace x86 overnight, but it will at least start to make ARM more mainstream-relevant on the laptop/desktop.
  • I don't see any relevance of Apple moving to ARM and Windows developers offering ARM builds. It's mostly about companies not wanting to expend the effort of maintaining a second code branch, or rewriting nearly from scratch on new APIs, until they see that there is a payoff for them, i.e. people adopting the platform and wanting that software on it. With Apple they know Apple fans are frequently people with money to burn that will go out and buy the latest just for the hell of it, vs your average PC user only upgrades out of necessity of an aging device. (I'm still using a 13 year old desktop, only felt the need to upgrade laptop for better portability and battery life.). Also I believe MAC OS APIs haven't changed much over the years, only packaging method changes and addition of store API, other than that it's still basically standard BSD OS, just gotta hit the code with a different compiler.
  • This is true but not as relevant in a world where a lot of popular desktop apps use cross platform tools/libraries.
    Then, an influential platform like Apple moving to ARM64 is incentive for the cross platform tooling developers such as Electron to prioritize that target and for the developer that only maintains one branch of code but gets multiple targets, it's as easy as a recompile in the majority of cases.
  • All kinds of pixie dust here. Yet thousands of "video editors" and "music producers" are ready to "upgrade" - money being no object when it comes to that particular shiny logo. At some point they'll add a notch to the screen just so that Gregory's patrons all across Manhattan and northern Brooklyn can tell the difference. "That Justin Long lookin' guy must be an independent filmmaker!" Anyway, nice breakdown.
  • Video editors wanting to edit 8K video are going to have little choice. I do not see why music producers would have to upgrade at all.
  • “A PC like Surface Pro X cannot be made with Intel chips at this time. That is why Microsoft made a whole new device, which is overall better than Surface Pro 7. Microsoft could have gone the lazier route and just made a Surface Pro 7 with ARM, but instead, they chose to deliver a different (and improved) experience.” I have to disagree with this whole paragraph. I don’t know how you use your devices, but in what planet is the X overall better than the Pro 7? Also, putting an Arm chip inside the 7, or even the Go would mean a lot more than just creating a new Surface Pro line. It doesn’t feel like they’re really committed to Arm. It never really felt that way with Windows.
  • I have never used a Surface Pro X. But I do use a Surface Pro 7. However, if I think about the things I do on the computer and read various reviews of the Surface Pro X, clearly my use case is tailored made for the Surface Pro X. I just did not want to pay the price when I could get the Surface Pro 7 at Costco of $899 (i5/128, keyboard, and pen), on sale this summer. I use outlook, edge, kindle, Spotify, tune in, Office, and various other minor apps. None of this software needs horsepower to run. I would like to use OneNote and inking more often, but I spend most of the day driving to home depot or renovating apartments. My business operations are mostly done through AppFolio (a SAAS) over the internet via edge. Call it cloud computing, cloud PC, virtual PC, or whatever the newest technology is used to allow a person to process information. The first computer I used was an IBM PC XT that my dad bought in 1980 or 1979. It had two floppy drives. I have seen companies come and go (leading edge, Sun microsystems, Compaq, various mail-order suppliers, Digital, etc.) The list of companies that were big time and that are no longer around is many. But guess what, we still use Excel. We still use Word. We still use Windows. Now we have added Android or iOS to the mix. Yes, I know a few people (less than 10%) use MacOS. But the point is the same. Whatever silicone that will best allow people to keep using the software they love that fits their lifestyle will gain market share. This has a lot to do with the internet and cellular service. Where is the silicone processing the data? On the device you are holding or in a data center connected to your device? How big a screen do you want? Inking? mouse? Keyboard? How will the device translate your interaction to the software? There are multiple form factors that give many variations of these interactions. The silicone pulls all that together. ARM is more power efficient which is why more companies will use ARM in more devices. Will ARM displace intel x86 CISC chips? Time will tell.
  • In design, display, and features eg LTE, removable SSD, better screen, longer battery life, thinner chassis, Eye Contact AI, etc. CPU performance and x64 compatibility are another issue.
  • The Surface Pro X uses a different processor which gives MSFT the flexibility to re-engineer the Surface experience in a way that increases the utility of the device that is not possible with Intel chips. If you are trying to state that a Surface Pro i7 is better than the Surface Pro X, then you are interested in the performance of the CPU versus the form factor. But CPU performance is just one aspect of the computing experience and why MSFT focuses on productivity versus CPU performance.
  • Maybe you've been lucky, but eye contact doesn't work for me. It does nothing, and I've tested a number of different calling apps, including zoom, Skype, meet, and teams. I would expect that if I wasnt white, because facial tech always sucks for minorities but I'm just a middle aged white guy like you (windows hello does not recognize my black daughter on any machine no matter what we do).
  • Some absurd performance comparisons made by apple. that last ad featuring "pc" guy was really silly as if fanless laptops were invented just yesterday & quality ultrabooks that offered acceptable battery life never existed before. Though their chip M1 will most likely deliver good performance & battery life. but still their idea about laptop is same old. No touchscreen, no 360 degree hinge, no pen input etc. Although now with apple silicon & iPad apps support, idea of IPad - mac hybrid is not that far away. Let's see how 64bit windows program emulator preforms & how capable are Qualcomm's next gen chips for windows on arm platform. An area in which windows on arm platform is falling short is lack of value for money products. hopefully with 64bit emulation & capable Qualcomm mid range chip, Microsoft manages to convince oems in to making cheaper windows hybrids like those windows 8 tablets powered by Intel baytrail.
  • "Apple is joining Microsoft and Google in embracing ARM for computers and not just phones." LOL, good one. The reality is, MS is FINALLY joining Apple in embracing ARM for computers. iPads have always been ARM. Yes, an iPad is a computer. "Computer" is not defined as having a mouse and a C drive.
  • By same logic, a mobile phone is also a computer, so is your pocket calculator etc. Likewise the Palm series from over a decade ago were computers. Same goes with the Nokia communicators and so on.
    The definition of 'computer' while quite arbitrary, is loosely understood to be a true multi-process OS based device, capable of complex tasks such as compiling its own operating system.
  • No, it is not. "Compiling its own OS" has nothing to do with anything. There is no technical reason why an iPad can not compile iPadOS. All it needs is a compiler. Hell, an iPhone could do it with a compiler. Yes, a phone is a computer. Again, "computer" is not defined as "must be running a Microsoft OS".
  • iOS is not a desktop or laptop OS, hence why it's not in the new MacBook Pro. iOS is a blown up iPhone, nothing more. Your point is dismissed.
  • naddy6969, what is the difference between me holding a surface without the keyboard and taking notes on OneNote in a business meeting and using an iPad? I think it would better to say. "FINALLY, ARM and manufacturers have finally built a piece of silicone that has the capability to satisfy the needs of the traditional "laptop" use case."
  • I think that the main result Apple wants to get with its new chips is being perceived as best in class and unique. And they succeded. Their machines will be a different beast respect to PC and the consumers, very likely, will consider them a better product and more up to date than PC. Chapeau to Apple. Tough time for MSFT and OEM.
  • MS can't and will not succeed if they don't give users to use their android apps on PC via their phone. And I'm talking about giving Your Phone app connection over USB not Wi-fi. Wi-fi is good when I'm on the go or working on a laptop on my sofa. But not when I'm on the desk whether laptop or desktop. Your Phone integration has become solid over time and I can finally enjoy it works fine almost all the time but for the love of God just give connection over USB for apps feature as it charges my phone while being used and will work Always unlike wifi which about 10% of the time doesn't work of disconnect in the middle of my working session. Latency is what it is about. If I can use android apps on PC for small stuffs like simple music apps and looking up amazon order status via phone app is just more useful. I don't need to login to another browser for doing small stuff which doesn't need constant attention. As PIP mode phone apps really works well alongside full screen productivity work.
  • Nice comment. Hopefully, MSFT is trying to give you that option. They spent a decade and a ton of money trying to extend the WinTel ecosystem to the mobile form factor (tablet/smartphone) and failed. They have spent a few years trying to extend the Windows ecosystem (Office, etc.) into Android/iOS. MSFT will spend even more time and a ton of money improving and extending the Window's ecosystem into Android/iOS. Patience.
  • Unfortunately Your Phone is only full featured with a subset of mobile phones, Android and then best on Samsung. In the US, that disenfranchises almost half the mobiles out there right off. If you need a high end Samsung, that's even less. Even MSs own Duo does get first class treatment.
  • The MacBook Pro still has a fan. You can't buy a Windows on ARM PC with a fan. You can't buy an iPad with a fan. Get it together Apple.
  • ARM is not a thermal standard, it is like x86. There are some x86 devices without the fan, so should 99% of other x86 devices get together and do it right? You can't get that level of performance without the fan. In general you can produce any laptop without the fan, just it would have to work most of the time at 50% or even much less of its peak power.
  • THE M1 in the MacBook Pro embarrasses the 8cx. It emulates Windows faster than native 8cx!
  • I don't get it. If the MB Air and MB Pro are now using the same chip with the same integrated GPU, then the only differential is in the battery and screen size? Has the differential between the Macbook lineup always been this small? When it was Intel, I always thought that the Pro line will be the workhorse that all the hipsters use to do video/photo editing, and that the Air line wont have the hardware capabilities to do the same (like using a Surface Book with dedicated graphics vs a Surface Pro). if this gap is now closed with the M1 chip then isn't the MB Pro line now redundant?
  • No the differences will be fairly similar to the differences that existed in Intel line. While the processors are the same, the clock they work at will be hugely different. You can't work at maximal power in a very thin device and without any cooler. While technically those processor could do that, they would melt quickly. In general it also means that processors that couldn't pass quality check for MacBook Pro may pass the quality required for MacBook Air. Again, that is very similar to what Intel does.
  • MacBooks also have that "latest PC chip". Basically a lie.
  • This does illustrate the restrictive nature of Apple vs. Microsoft and Google. I'd find MacBooks to restrictive, and much to expensive for what are just clamshell laptops.
  • I wish people would stop presuming that Apple using ARM for their CPUs would mean 5G. 1. Intel-based Windows and ChromeOS laptops have long had 4G/LTE options and as this column stated 5G ones as well. 2. More important: Apple has never manufactured their own mobile radios in the first place. Instead, they have bought their mobile radios from the likes of Intel and Qualcomm. You might remember Qualcomm suing Apple for using their LTE radios without paying licensing fees for them. Qualcomm has exclusively provided mobile radios to Apple since 2016 and has contracts to do so until 2024. Apple did buy Intel's mobile radio division in 2019. However, that isn't enough time for them to:
    A) improve on Intel's base design to where it is competitive with Qualcomm's
    B) integrate their new 5G design into their own Ax and Mx SOCs. Qualcomm themselves only achieved the same this year - for devices that will hit the market in 2021 - with their best modem/chip combination due to power consumption and heat dissipation problems. Until then they were only able to integrate their slower 5G modems with their slower chips. So Apple will have to use the same 5G chips that they buy from Qualcomm for their iPhones in any 5G Mac that they release before 2024. But again, they could have done that at any time with their Intel-based Macs just as several Windows manufacturers have.
  • Your comment about Apple's dust up with Qualcomm, the later licensing settlement and the subsequent purchase of Intel's mobile radio division makes sense why the M1 Mac/ARM PCs are lacking LTE/5g radios. Essentially the licensing deal was a stop gap measure while the purchase was about owning their own mobile antenna technology. Given that 5G is at its beginnings skipping it on the version 1 ARM Macs was not a major miss. Speculating, I am expect subsequent Mac ARM CPUs will have cellular connectivity sporting Apple developed technology and that they feel they have plenty of time to add this feature, 5G being more of a marathon instead of a sprint.
  • People aren't assuming this. It's just that's what all Windows on ARM devices offer. Its a negative of what Windows on ARM offers.
  • If mobile laptops were in demand you would be correct, but very few people are looking for them. If even Apple's high end customers don't care about 5G/LTE laptops, that kinda shows it isn't a selling point.
  • "Of course, with Apple merging everything, perhaps we'll get an iPad Pro that can run macOS apps, completing the strategy. That seems probable." I'd welcome it and I wouldn't be surprised if Apple has this on their roadmap.
  • I was dismayed that this article missed a key point. Faster is always better but the fastEST isn't always necessary. An ARM chip for PC that is two thirds as fast as the M1 is PLENTY FAST for business and productivity. For the time being. My wife has an almost 2 year old Asus Vivobook S15. Intel Core i5-8250U Processor 1.6GHz (up to 3.4GHz) and 8 GBs of DDR4. I asked her if the Vivo seems slow. She said no. I insisted and asked does she ever wish something was faster. Nope again. And so if an ARM chip can be faster than that and offer amazing battery life -- the average user (my wife) would have no clue that the M1 chip renders video much faster. Or care. By the way -- this is EXACTLY why the Keynote ended with the return of the PC guy claiming he was 'fast' too. It's actually a very weak argument to say you must be Maserati fast... and so Apple instead offered that 'normal' fast sucks. But does it? I believe the PC world needs to begin this counter argument campaign. Apple's message is spend twice as much to get twice as fast. (Except the Mac Mini is actually a steal... as long as you can live with 8GBs of RAM.) PCs need to hammer get twice the fast enough PCs for one Mac.
  • how fast does the computer go from closed to open to working in an app? I do notice issues using a SAAS getting bogged down in the data center, which has nothing to do with the device. I experience this when connected to a google fiber connection. Sometimes my Go opens and flash I am ready to open a file. Sometimes it sits there for a bit. Windows Hello doesn't work, and I must log in. Fast is a misleading metric
  • Her Intel Vivobook is never going to have compatibility issues either. Even if an ARM device can run Windows quickly, you will still run into issues with apps or hardware not being supported or not supported well. Microsoft needs a new experience for ARM machines and leave legacy Windows to Intel. Let it die off.
  • It's interesting but it's not that big of a deal.
  • > iOS apps (built for cellular, ahem)... it might be worth mentioning that, unlike in the world of Android, iOS apps do not seem to discriminate against WiFi only devices -- I have yet to see an app working on iPhone and not on iPod Touch. Not sure what "built for cellular" means in this context. > Apple embracing ARM validates Microsoft and Windows on ARM Sure... and Apple embracing Power PC validated Microsoft Windows NT on Power PC... for whatever *that* was worth.
  • There are thousands of Android devices which are wifi only. They're everywhere.
  • Here are a few of my takeaways from the big Apple M1 circus. Developers, Developers, Developers
    “ARM is justified for use in computers,” is the crux of the matter or, in the alternate, Apple, one of the largest technology corporations on the planet firing the greatest silicon company ever and the entire universe of computing that follows in that wake, - a breath taking move – along with its vast iOS/iPad developer community, has the clout to get developers serious, real serious about porting applications to the MacOS / ARM platform. That Microsoft and Adobe are already committed to this with Office 365 and Creative Suite provides real weight here. Apple, precisely because of its vertical integration, has the ability to focus attention to this transition in a manner that has been challenging Microsoft in getting native applications running on the Windows / Arm platform; unlike Apple their deep hooks into the enterprise and backwards compatibility that spans decades makes them less nimble here. Apple can slash and burn here leaving developers the options of being permanently locked out of the Mac PC market or getting their software running natively on ARM. This in your face shove by Apple is exactly what will cause this transition to happen at scale and should accelerate implementation/porting of applications for Windows / ARM. X86 based software isn’t going to disappear anytime soon, but where it was once the leading development platform is now at risk of slowly becoming irrelevant and to stay relevant Intel has to win, not with its size, but with technology that is competitive where ARM is strong and protects its historical advantages such as the peripheral hardware universe. Nor do I see Microsoft walking away from the WinTel duopoly anytime soon either, they have an enviable business here even in the face of what could become a seminal technology shift. In short, Apple committing to ARM for their PCs is going to force developers to get serious about this platform and once that begins in earnest it should become self-perpetuating in a few years and the coat tails here will be long, wide, and directly benefit Microsoft’s efforts. There is nothing but upside here that I can see except for Intel – they have some tough days ahead of them. Enterprise, Enterprise, Enterprise
    Apple is unparalleled at making the mundane, say toenail clippings, sound like Moses coming down from a mountain with the 10 commandments. The new Mac’s are more in line with The Who’s, “Won’t Get Fooled Again,: “New boss same as the old boss.” At the end of the day the ARM Macs are for all practical purposes are identical to the x86 Macs and their deficiencies such as port deserts, no touch screens (the touch bar is underwhelming at best), and zippo 4G/5G support. None of this is going to affect the core of Microsoft’s or Intel’s enterprise businesses. And that folks, is a significant chunk of change. Mr. Rubino nailed this point, “ Windows 10 on ARM PCs, generally speaking, support inking, improved battery life, touch displays, and offer 4G or 5G always-on connectivity,” which are all essential to a enterprise work that is increasingly working from diverse locations. The new ARM Macs are going to have limited impact here in the near term. Give this transition a few years, especially Microsoft’s work here, and my now toned down hyperventilating could be back leaving me passing out once again. The Surface Pro X keeps getting more important. When Windows / ARM becomes common in the enterprise is when this transition can be considered done. Performance, Performance, Performance
    The performance story from Apple has them waving their hands here so furiously they are swelled up like over inflated helium balloons. The x86 CPUs have an edge, for now in desktops and servers and that isn’t changing anytime soon. What is most interesting is x86 CPUs seem to have hit a wall while the Apple and Qualcomm CPUs have lots of room to become more performant. The SQ1 and the SQ2 found in the Surface Pro X are already on par with an 8th generation Intel Core I5. It isn’t written in stone, tablets or not, but I can’t see the ARM CPUs not approximating the latest and greatest x86 CPUs with much better power usage and such. Maybe it is written. If this plays out properly, along with the necessary supporting software, there could be a case made in a decade that x86 is destined to end up as museum pieces. Other Stuff
    As for all the other points Mr. Rubino made – I can’t find anything of significance where I disagree. Still, the importance of what Apple is up to with ARM on PC shift cannot be underestimated. My take is this is going to vastly change how computing is implemented over the next decade. Toss in ubiquitous 5G, edge computing, AI, PCs as a service and speedy ARM CPUs that get 24 hours of battery life, well, computing is about to change bigly.
  • My perspective is a CISC (x86) chip and a RISC (ARM) chip approach computing from different directions. I believe that RISC chips are much simpler to design than CISC chips. The difference in complexity impacts the power demands to move one compute function from start to finish. RISC chips require more individual computes to complete one process. So CISC chips take fewer cycles to complete a task but require more energy per cycle. Well after reading a Wikipedia page about RISC chips, I don't know what I am talking about. I did find this one sentence. The term "reduced" in that phrase was intended to describe the fact that the amount of work any single instruction accomplishes is reduced—at most a single data memory cycle—compared to the "complex instructions" of CISC CPUs that may require dozens of data memory cycles in order to execute a single instruction.[24] In particular, RISC processors typically have separate instructions for I/O and data processing. I suspect that CISC chips and RISC chips will approach similar power levels. I guess each node shrink that Intel must engineer to make the CISC chip work is more difficult for each node of a RISC chip. But the reality is if you move the complex difficult compute functions to the data center and use your device to display and initiate the compute function, then you don't need a CISC chip in the device.
  • Does it give Mac enough power to support touch screen?
  • Same crap keyboard, no pen, no touch. Waste of time for me.
  • "Apple embracing ARM validates Microsoft and Windows on ARM"
    yeah, just like once upon time ; Apple's macOS validates Microsoft making Windows GUI for DOS.
  • "We love Macbook, it's in our DNA" - Tim Cook What a beautiful statement from their CEO. At this point I can't for the life of me imagine Satya Nadella making a similar statement about the PC. His sole focus in life seems to be Azure. I really hope these new Macbooks sell incredibly well. They deserve to.
    1) The gorgeous new design of Big Sur (just look at that gorgeous "Action Center" of theirs. That's how it should be done.)
    2) Great improvements in messaging.
    3) Flawless integration with iPhone, Apple Watch, Apple TV, iPad, Home Pod.
    4) Access to hundreds of thousands of high quality iOS apps in the Mac Store. Apple has realized device family integration and the universal app vision in a way that Microsoft can only dream about.
    5) And finally...... stunning, yes absolutely stunning battery life! oh yeah "one more thing"... 6) an army of developers who feel loved and appreciated, ready and willing to convert to the M1 big.little architecture. I tip my hat at how well executed Apple's takeover of developer mindshare has been in the last 6 years. It's a complete utter reversal of what used to be. The once great Windows software ecosystem lies in ashes, relegated to weak PWA apps, has been Win32 titles, and yesterday's vision of gaming. We shouldn't kid ourselves. Apple deserves high praise for a job well done. This is what Microsoft SHOULD have been doing over the last six years.
  • Point #3 - It's flawless because Apple products only work with Apple products. You HAVE to buy their products for better or worse. So cut Microsoft some slack for having to develop a OS that works with thousands of different configurations. But thanks for sharing your love letter to Apple.
  • So much to unpack here. I'm surprised nobody has commented on the Geekbench tests for the M1 chips. The M1, single core clocks in at 1687 and the best AMD Ryzen 9 5950X is 1637. Oh oh... Close, but I imagine if Apple decided to make a 64 Core M-Class chip. It would mildly shred the largest Ryzen Threadripper. Impressive entry for a first try at a mobile SOC. MOBILE! Check back in two or three years. Not to claim that imaginary future products trounce what's shipping now, but in the same time span, Apple has developed and shipped something that demonstrates a potential dominance in general CPUs that they call a MOBILE chip now. If they expand that into workstation class chips... it's over. The criticisms of the simple yet informative graphs Apple showed means the observers didn't wait until the XY coordinates were drawn in for them. By the time the Intel chips were running at the limits of horsepower, the Apple chips barely left the gate with tons of headroom. Yes, oversimplifying, but the claims, if valid, will allow gestures in your hands unheard of outside of supercomputing. Now, THAT is a target rich environment for developers (developers developers developers fat sweaty dancing developers developers). I needed an eyewash station after seeing that. Comments on Mac laptop form factors are totally valid - no touch screen yet, no 180º hinge, no 5G or LTE etc. Apple still hasn't completed the continuum between keyboardless touch devices and laptops. There are big holes in the ecosystem. My experience with touchscreen Surface devices is limited but I find myself reaching for the screen on my Mac laptops sometimes. I forget how lousey the laptop PC trackpads are at work compared to my Mac and I WANT the touch screen on the PC, thus the muscle memory. The much maligned Touch Bar is contextual and actually damn handy for a lot of things. I see several Surface fans here (surprise surprise). Running Windows natively on that form factor is something Apple hasn't replicated yet with macOS, but you see the ecosystem melting together between iOS and macOS, iPad Pro and MacBook Pro. That will be completed shortly but they should have done it sooner. The experience from our brush with hundreds of Surface devices is the users rejected them within weeks and IT issued most everyone MacBook Pros. They never heard from the Mac users again. Windows, frankly, is a tragedy when dealing with media, not to mention navigating the file systems which makes you say "what in the hell were they thinking?". Yup, sad to say, Windows is crusty and not very forward looking. It does well in what some call "productivity" which usually means "mouse clicks and keystrokes". We don't do that. We create lots of original video programming, and the Macs, frankly, regularly run rings around any Windows machines we encounter... except for CPU intensive graphics. We use a stack of 12 PC servers with dual Tesla cards for that. Appropriate application of technology. Otherwise, we sort of chuckle at people who say nobody uses Macs. Yes, we're apparently "hipsters" - I saw that term in here which I haven't heard in years. It's usually a sign of jealousy of some sort. No worries. A rising tide floats all ships and it's great to light a fire under the others advancing the technologies. However, we look forward to playing 6K and 8K original video on our field production M1 chip equipped laptops. The new Macs are all there is. And... USB 4. Plugs right into our 40Gb desktop network if we ever go back to the office.
  • Great breakdown. I've yet to plunge into computing on ARM (save mobile and Surface RT once upon a time) but it's very exciting to watch it develop. Can't say I don't share a similar viewpoint that Microsoft has the Surface Pro X a little more fleshed-out than Apple with their M1 devices. Surely these are the beginnings of the next great race in personal computers.