First Windows 10 on ARM PCs to arrive in the fourth quarter, Qualcomm says

Myerson Windows 10
Myerson Windows 10 (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

Things have been quiet concerning Windows 10 on ARM since Microsoft first announced in December it was in the works, but that will soon change. Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf has confirmed that the first Windows 10 PC running on a Snapdragon 835 processor is scheduled to arrive during Q4 2017 (via CIO).

Mollenkopf detailed the timeframe in a brief mention as part of Qualcomm's most recent earnings call, as detailed in a transcript posted at Seeking Alpha:

Fifth, we have an opportunity to disrupt the existing suppliers of the PC and the datacenter. Our Snapdragon 835 is expanding into Mobile PC designs running Windows 10, which are scheduled to launch in the fourth calendar quarter this year. In the data center, we announced the collaboration with Microsoft and demonstrated Windows Server Running on our 10 nanometer Qualcomm Centriq processors, the first 10 nanometer server processors in the industry.

The move comes as part of a partnership between Microsoft and Qualcomm, originally outlined at WinHEC, to create what Microsoft is calling "cellular PCs." The ability to run full desktop Windows 10 on ARM represents a huge shift for the platform, as Windows has historically only worked on x86-based chips.

Running on the Snapdragon 835, Windows 10 on ARM will allow full emulation of traditional x86 Win32 apps and games. Given the Snapdragon 835's smartphone roots, we can expect devices running Windows 10 on ARM to come with built-in cellular connectivity, Bluetooth 5, long battery life, and relatively thin and light form factors. Microsoft also confirmed in December that Windows 10 will add support for electronic SIMs (eSIM), with the Windows Store eventually selling 4G LTE data plans.

Windows 10 on ARM: Microsoft's ultimate mobile device vision comes into focus

We haven't heard any official plans for a cellular PC from Microsoft hardware partners like Dell, HP or Lenovo, so it's hard to gauge what type of device Mollenkopf is expecting to arrive in the fourth quarter. That said, whether it be tablets, two-in-ones, or Ultrabooks, the first devices to roll out with Windows 10 on ARM will represent a significant step forward for Microsoft.

Thanks, @Dan12R, for the tip!

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the former Editor-in-Chief of Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl

  • I'd really like a successor to surface 3 that has stellar battery life. Hope this enables that
  • Good battery life... and great sleep support! (Like the Surface 2) A dream.
  • Samsung Book 10.9" is what you are looking for.
  • If the 10.9 inch had LTE,  yea.  Looks like just the 12" has LTE and verizon at that. Bleech.
  • Samsung uses Intel Core M.  Im not sure about those new models, but my laptop with core M is just TERRIBLE, its clock is usually down making it slower than a Bay Trail Atom and cannot play any video smoothly, its just a terrible experience.
  • The experience on my core m powered sp4 has actually been quite good. Much better than i expected.
  • Mine is the Core M 5Y10 maybe the better gpu clock speed fixed the Video playback?  If thats so i might give it another try...
  • Surface 3 used Atom, so it's an improvement.
  • I just want a successor to the Lumia 950XL. "Full" x86 on a phone? Hell yeah.
  • x86 has awful standby. Hope you like missing texts cause it went into deep sleep. Then all of a sudden it's Microsoft's fault that you wanted a **** processor in a phone. Kill it with fire.
  • It's x86 emulation, not full time x86
  • that sounds even worse.
    But we'll see
  • How does that in any way sound worse?
  • in the emulation way. duh
  • You're so dumb
  • no u
  • QEMU has been emulating x86 on ARM for years. Also when Google finish and move to using Fuchsia for their main OS they too will have to do some sort of emulation for older apps.
  • It's emulated only when doing Continuum (you know, connecting to a display and input devices and accessing the desktop and it's app, albeit only light to mid-light apps). All phone functionality and day-to-day basic apps should be written in UWP. And since UWP can run natively on ARM, there are no need to be emulated in any way.
  • What...? So we can't emulate Bluestacks on Windows 10 ARM when it is in phone mode and run Android apps? So there will still be an app gap? Will the Snapdragon processor even be powerful enough to run Bluestacks? 
  • Eh, most people talk about wanting a full x86 processor on their phones when it comes to Windows. If he's talking about the emulation Microsoft is cooking up, my bad and I'm all for that too.
  • There are tradeoffs with emulation suchas increased cpu cycles and x86 socs have higher tdps than ARM socs. Phones have a confined power budget. So both don't really work for phoned yet. If Microsoft can get emulation working without turning your phone into a mini oven and subsequently cooking your nether regions once you put the phone in your trouser pockets after you've "undocked" your phone then sure why not. IMO if a ARM soc working in tandem with X86 dock is the best way to go about it until x86 soc's tdp is miles better than ARM socs. Never the less, personally I would not want an x86 phone as that opens the door for malware. There is tonne of personal information on phones as opposed to PCs. Plus you can install heavy weight Firewalls and anti-virus applications (some run 13-40 processes - try running these on a phone lol).
  • Good analysis TechFreak1! Windows Defender works fine though, so IMO, Virus threats aren't going to be a big scare. But yes agreed - we have lot more perfonal stuff on our SmartPhones these days, than our Desktops or Laptops...
  • Thanks, most people just say they want an x86 phone. Sure that's fine but one needs to consider the pros and cons as well as limitations. This applies to pretty much everything in the technosphere. IMO defender is not adequate for the modern era of computing. However one should use what they are comfortable with first and foremost. There is nothing infuriating for people who don't want constant dialogue boxes asking and alerting you of changes. Personally i prefer that so I know exactly what is running on my PCs.
  • Defender is fine for 95% of people using Windows. Unless you're going to extremely sketchy sites or downloading things you shouldn't, defender works just fine.
  • It maybe "adequate or fine" in your eyes for most people. From a security stand point it is not. Why do you defender has always ranked poorly by those who test security and anti-virus suites? Sure in recent times it may have improved but still one should not be relying solely on defender. It's not about shady sites but zero day exploits, browser exploits suchas flash, the list is endless. The amount of malware i have removed with malwarebytes, hitman pro, hijackthis, dedicated rootkit tools etc from PCs solely running security essentials' or defender - far too many to count. You need look beyond what you see and observe :).
  • The only way for those zero day exploits to be exploited is to use flash or visit a malicious site.
  • Not exactly, in most cases yes but not all cases.
  • Those other cases are so far and few inbetween that its not worth the slowdown for me to have other antivirus programs installed.
  • It may not be worth it to you, but once you've been hit by a ransomware attack through a legit link and a redirect due to a tampered certificate. These things happen, if they did not then there would be no need for "heavy duty firewalls and security suites" however these days PC's (desktops) have plenty of ram and processing power so the only slow down is a fragmented mechanical drive.
  • I want a successor to the 950XL too - with built-in Continuum!
  • Agreed!  We need the supported apps too!  I had a 1520 and miss it since it finally died and forced me to a new platform,  cough Edge 7 cough!  Screen on this phone is nice, but the OS is awful, laggy, horrible battery life, gets hot for no reason, did I mention laggy!  Anyone who thinks androids are great is clearly delusional!  Mail app isnt anything to write home about, it mutilate contacts on a daily basis all on its own, if you update a contact info, it may or may not save your change.....bring me a new LUMIA!
  • I know how you feel.  For my Android tablet, I installed Outlook for mail/calendar/contact.  I can't stand Gmail app and the way it deals with multiple mail accounts forcing you to use as well another mail app to get mail and calendar and contacts from all accounts (unless you have a Nexus then Gmail deals with everything fine).
  • I'm still happy with my 950. It hasn't been two years yet.  I wonder what happened to the 3DCamera capabilty they presented at their Creators presentation?  In any event, I WOULD be interested if there is going to be a full Windows 10 phone with massive storage, so I can completely retire my desktop.
  • Exactly. 7" tablet and a Bluetooth ear piece. Throw a folding keyboard and Arc touch mouse in my pockets and I'm done. Good Bluetooth displays are easy to find at work.
  • Problem is that the Surface 4 internals would be the same as a putative smaller "Cellular PC" so price disparity will be an issue. Though the Surface design patent with a USB-C port points to a Surface 4
  • Good battery life and emulation hardly coincide.
  • Emulation is only when u run x86 apps
  • How powerful is the 835 compared to a Celeron or an Core i3-7 etc?
  • This is my ultimate concern. Will it really perform?? Emulating Win32 on ARM seems almost unreal, but then again, there's been some software emulation wizardry these days coming from the Xbox team with Xbox 360 backwards compatibility so I'm really looking forward to the magic :-)
  • Agreed. Emulating a RISC ISA on CISC at near native speeds is an amazing achievement. Very few people understand what this means and give credit to the Xbox team.
  • they say "Running on the Snapdragon 835, Windows 10 on ARM will allow full emulation of traditional x86 Win32 apps and games" hmm... this sounds too optimistic... emulation needs very fast HW and I dont believe that a Snap 835 could handle a native x86 app like CAD/Photoshop without problems. Its seems like a PR message but the reality will be something else
  • When you start talking CAD and Photoshop, you wouldn't even run that on a lower end PC to begin with. I would expect to see something similar in performance to the M3 processors from the SD835, just on a micro size chip.
  • what? I can run photoshop easily on ATOM or any low end device... it all depends on what kind of job are you doing on the other side what are people expecting to do with W10 on a mobile device??? Because reading the comments I think people are expecting too much. The same thing happened with 950XL and the reality was far far away from it  
  • I would expect that I could retire my desktop . . .if there is at least 512GB storage,  and capabilty for more as the Tarabyte SD cards arrive.
  • Running Photoshop on Windows 10 on ARM was a proof of concept. No one in their right mind will be running Photoshop or Lightroom on such a device.
  • No one in their right mind will be running Photoshop or Lightroom on such a device
    Good thing we are so sane 🤣🤣🙃🙃😵😵
  • Haha!
  • kkkkkk
  • so what will you run on your mobile phone with ARM support? what kind of x86 will you use??? It looks like it will be the same failure as W10M. With the lack off proper app ARM and full W10 will be dead on arrival
  • I would be running my mobile audio processor software. There are three different ones that i use. All are only available in x86 flavor.
  • I barely ever need a laptop anymore - continuum can nearly fully replace it for me already. Adding the ability to emulate a handful of programs that don't have UWP apps would be the nail in the coffin. I'd by a Windows 10 on ARM phone and a clamshell dock for it like the HP Elite X3 has and then that's all the device i'd need!
  • No one in their right mind would do it. But based on their proof of concept you can say that you can.
  • We'll try it just so we find something to complain about: "performance is really bad, look at how slow Photoshop runs"  hehe
  • I would say it will be at least equal to Lightroom on an Atom, which does work decently for small libraries (done it on a Surface 3)
  • It is not like all x86 CPU can run those CAD or Photoshop properly either. Can Atom or Celeron or CoreM run CAD or Photoshop properly? Why use those chip which are more costly but run poorly instead using ARM which are way cheaper. I'm pretty sure that SD835 is a lot cheaper than CoreM
  • yes, ATOM can run photoshop.. it all depends on the image quality... 200mpx photos are overkill but full HD pictures are not a problem... CAD is something else  
  • And for how long is this going to be too good to be true? Within this year? How about next Year? The Following?
    The interesting thing is that Desktop CPU's are not gaining much performance each year. This allows more efficient chips (ARM) which have more cores to catch up and to use those "extra" cores to emulate CISC instructions to RISC instructions without losing out on performance.
    I read somewhere that this is how the SD835 will run x86 software in Windows on ARM without the expected performance hit one expects with emulation. The 4 low power cores will emulate code while the 4 high powered cores run the software at full clock.
  • Do not expect high performance from arm emulation, you might be very disappointed. This is specially made for mobile and hardly made for desktop work. More like for presentations office, email, small things like this. Do not expect this low power cpu to be able to surpass a real CPU.
  • I'm not. But I'm expecting performance to be better than Atom and upto Core-M with this first wave. And it'll only get better with time.
  • Yeah, but ARM has it's limitations, and i do not think they will ever be able to replace everything in the world, i mean: Windows would have to be rebuild from scratch (again) for us to be able to say that is a successful turn of events, and not only windows but all the Programs and web sites and pretty much everything we know right now, has to change it's structure for arm CPU's to really show their magic. Till then, well it is only emulation, and with it, comes limitations. Now i do not say that ms can't do a great emulation. But will never ever be able to beat those cpu monsters from intel in performance and functionality. Yeah, i know their can be a problem for Intel, ARM might make those normal users to ditch their desktops/laptops for thin ARM systems… not me, but for sure will be many. It is a threat for Intel for sure. Not that they will go broke, but being force to reduce production means more layoffs and other nasty things. So, they should come with an opened arm to ARM technology. But not something that will change the of how a PC works. No matter how good they get. My opinion... And yes, they might be faster then Intels M CPU'S, but with limitations, as i was saying.…
  • see.. thats the problem. You are expecting too much. I dont think it can beat Core M ... and if it would beat it...... what will you do with such a CPU? Its still far behind from a normal i3/5/7 so you will use it for basic tasks only  
  • "What will you do with such a CPU?" You make it sound like today's Core M is slower than the 2007 Single-Core, Single-Thread Intel Celeron Processor in my old laptop. Edit: And believe it or not, in 2007, that laptop was good enough for basic tasks only. Presentations and such. And believe it or not, one could run Gears of War for PC back then, assuming they had a good enough GPU. HMMMM, I wonder how well a Core-M today, compares to a gaming laptop from 2007? Edit 2: By the way, my Surface Pro 1 can run that game, graphics turned all the way up and playable in 720P. I'm pretty sure today's Core-M GPU is more powerful than my Surface Pro 1's GPU. And since that game is VERY GPU dependent, I'd bet it would run much better on today's Core-M.
  • I'm pretty sure when they say it allows for full emulation they mean it emulates the entire x32 instruction set, which is why it can run any app or game, but that's to say nothing of the performance.
  • More likely to be compared to a surface 3 at best. But I would be happy with a 6" Surface in my pocket if it had a sim card in it. I would call it my surface phone lol
  • This is what I'm expecting. I'm excited for this since a GPD WIN, a 5.5" Atom based gaming device, can run Xbox 360/PS3 PC equivalent games fairly well. I'd expect the the same or better performance with Windows on ARM. I'm excited for this since I feel gaming is the x86 programs that will turn some heads when it comes to mobile platforms. Show a 15 year old someone playing Splinter cell Black List on a phone and they may give up Mario Run to do something like this. This is the only way I see in the near future how Windows on Phones can gain market share. PC gaming.
  • @Dont Fear the Future, I agree. Microsoft has a market perception of being all about Enterprise... except they also have Xbox. This has always seemed like a huge missed opportunity to leverage that brand and gaming expertise to win support at least from the gaming portion of the consumer market. Having said that, since MS has not done much with that for mobile in the past, I'm not optimistic they'll do that this time. But I do hope for it. From a strategic perspective, it would be smart.
  • I agree 100%.  Microsoft doesn't have an Enterprise problem; they have a consumer problem.  They have had XBox for years, but yet they never tied the Xbox to the PC.  They finally are now with XBox Play Anywhere game titles. I hope with Windows on ARM and gaming that Microsoft can bring some, "FUN" to Phone Form Factors running Windows.  And that could start with older PC games.  No other Smartphone could give one such games, and the best part is, these games already exist.  There will be no waiting for the developers to make it happen. Personally, I don't think the first Windows on ARM phone from Microsoft should be a Surface Phone in design.  I think is should be more like the PGS from PGS Lab:  A slider Smartphone form-factor, with physical controlls that would allow one not only to play games poperly on such a device, but also navigate Windows 10 properly too. If only I were the head of their smartphone division.  Of coarse we all think that.  :)    
  • This! Exactly what I'm expecting as well...
  • But let they also release really mobile devices - 6" is too much :/
    BTW hope that it won't be another Kyocera Echo as everybody expects now ;D
  • Fully Agree! I'd call it my 'Surface Phone' too! :)
  • If those tasks are required then yes, (surely obviously?), you will need a proper desktop CPU (and even at that a higher tier one). No point dismissing what is a HUGE achievement on the basis of an extreme, niche, use-case. For most users arm emulation on a mobile or tablet will open up new competitively priced devices able to run a much wider range of software and applications.
  • Most of x86 app running on ARM doesn't need an emulation since the core of Windows 10 is compiled for ARM. All of the API for Win32 is accessible native since it's compiled for ARM. All hardware instructions (like SSE2?) etc has to be emulated I guess but I guess such things isn't available for W10 ARM.
  • i dont get it one group of people are like: WOOOOOOOOOW we get x86 app on mobile such fantastic information other group is like: hey bro, dont expect anything big just browsing the net, writing emails, youtube etc.   so what the hell are we talking about? It will be the same situation as with W10M = lack of app and dont expect the same power as from a desktop pc  
  • However, I can  already do most things using Continuum, bypasing my desktop.  Once we go full Windows and I can load Quicken and such on my phone, my desktop will become obsolete(because I am not a high graphical user)
  • They will say that until it's released.......Then the backpedaling will start and say only small x86 programs and light games will be available.  Then it will be only NEW programs of x86 specifically written for ToA will be able to be run.   See the pattern?  just like windows 10 mobile,  All windows 8 devices will be able to upgrade,  then,  it was all windows 8.1 devices with denim.  Then it was only certain ones available.  Then we have the app projects.  All apps available on any other platform can be easily ported to windows and convert into windows design language...then it was just IOS apps able to be ported...then it was NONE!  
  • Or maybe they wanted to do something that did not depend on developers to make it happen; so they made Windows on ARM so all existing x86 software could run on it without depending on developers at all. That is a smart move.
  • Not sure. But for reference, it's the same chip that's on the Galaxy S8 and S8+
  • It doesn't matter, pure rendering powering in direct comparison since this will be emulating Windows on x86. We'll have to wait and see
  • Quite a bit slower. In a comparison between intel core processors and ARM processors each running their native architecture, intel soundly beats arm. Running x86 emulation on ARM will slow it down further. Still, it's a good start and ARM processors will continue to improve.
  • We can see that in geekbench galaxy s8 gets about 6000 in multicore and my kaby lake i5 gates about 6500
  • Interesting. Sounds like an 835 powered machine could be ultra portable with decent power.