How Qualcomm and Microsoft are making PCs post-smartphone devices

From productivity to entertainment Windows PCs, with 90 percent market dominance, literally defined personal computing for a generation.

Ten years ago smartphones introduced an always-connected personal computing experience where many light personal computing tasks transitioned to mobile devices. Qualcomm's technologies, which enable the modern smartphone industry, support an evolving experience where smartphone-based computing is becoming increasingly capable of sustaining more complex PC-like tasks.

Microsoft and Qualcomm have leapfrogged that progression by bringing the full power of Windows to Qualcomm's mobile infrastructure — the Snapdragon 835 processor. This is a huge jump beyond the smartphone's incremental progress toward more PC-like capabilities. It's also a major step toward first making PCs more like smartphones and then moving connected mobile computing beyond that form factor.

Qualcomm's philosophy

This isn't a Microsoft-mobile-comeback story. It's about cellular evolution, the investments, vision, and philosophies of a major industry mover, Qualcomm, and its collaboration (and mutual goals) with one of its partners.

Qualcomm's CEO Steve Mollenkopf said that Qualcomm invests in technologies up to 10 years before people use them:

We work on ... fundamental technologies that people will use ... ten years later. Qualcomm .... tries to figure out how we can get as many people as possible using the cellular roadmap. The smartphone is just the first step along that journey.

It's notable that the CEO of the company whose technologies defined the smartphone industry states the smartphone is just the first step in getting as many people as possible on the cellular roadmap.

This isn't a Microsoft-mobile-comeback story, its about cellular evolution.

It's within this context that Qualcomm and Microsoft have partnered to make "Always Connected PCs" a new category of the most prolific desktop computing platform on the planet and a means to add more people to that roadmap.

Today's reality isn't Qualcomm's destination

Qualcomm is forward-looking and technologies it invests in now aren't the end goal. For instance, Mollenkopf said of past connectivity and video and audio compression investments:

We bet that data connection was going to be very important everywhere in the world, so we invented all the technologies to enable that to occur. We bet that video compression was going to be very important worldwide because people were going to stream video and stream audio, so we worked on video- and audio-compression technologies.

It's likely that many couldn't see where Qualcomm was "going" with those investments before video and audio streaming became the norm. The same can likely be said of its efforts to make PCs more like smartphones. Where's Qualcomm going with this? Always Connected PCs are what we see today, but it isn't the end goal.

Foundation for the next step

Qualcomm likes to position itself at the foundation of technological change. It, like Microsoft, makes the tools others use. Mollenkopf said:

You're familiar with the smartphone because about 10 years ago, before the smartphone ... Qualcomm worked on the technology .... required to even enable the smartphone. We invent the core technologies and the tools that allow the mobile roadmap to move forward. One of those tools is the chip — but... we have a larger role in the ecosystem of cellular ... And our relevance to more consumer electronics — and ... industries — is...increasing.

So where might Qualcomm, which enables the smartphone (which Mollenkopf calls low-powered computers), see Always Connected PCs (which are actual computers), going? Here's where they are today:

  • Always connected — these PCs won't need WiFi, but will remain connected to a network and receive notifications and alerts just like smartphones.
  • Instant on — After hours of standby, these PCs will turn-on instantly just like smartphones.
  • Battery life — These PCs will have all day battery life just like smartphones.

Convergence, a logical progression

Windows phone and iPhone

Windows phone and iPhone (Image credit: Windows Central)

A logical question is, "Would these smartphone-like capabilities be the end goal of a company with a history of and business model to invest at the ground level of new tech in anticipation of greater impact down the road?" I doubt it. And this is where those who doubt Microsoft's vision to bring telephony-enabled PCs to market falls short. They compartmentalize it as just Microsoft's attempt at a mobile comeback.

Qualcomm, like others in the industry, sees a natural convergence of desktop and mobile computing. Apple and Google are trying to bring their mobile platforms closer to desktop scenarios. Microsoft is doing the opposite. Qualcomm is enabling that convergence.

Enabling telephony on an ultramobile cellular PC form factor would be the logical progression of that convergence. Microsoft's role in this Qualcomm partnership includes making the PC experience mobile-friendly. This is where Core OS, which brings the full power of Windows to any form factor, and CShell, which adapts the UI to a user's context, come in.

Why Microsoft may gain an upper hand with carriers because of Always Connected PCs

Progressive Web Apps, a parallel evolution

Since cellular PCs and Microsoft's rumored folding mobile Surface are full PCs Win32 programs will be at a users disposal. Microsoft's support of Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) may help it overcome the mobile app gap over time.

Microsoft and Google have worked together on PWA's and Apple's also embracing the tech. Build, Google I/O and Apple's WWDC may bring more attention to this technology that's picking up momentum.

A collusion of factors supports the idea and viability of a telephony-enabled pocket PC category. Don't expect the first generation of a folding mobile Surface to change the world, however. It'll simply define the category. But like all things Qualcomm invests in, give it time as the category evolves along with supporting tech like PWA's and OEM partnerships that will eventually bring this category to consumers.

Bigger than Microsoft and a long-term lens

What's beginning as Always Connected PCs, will likely introduce telephony-capable pocketable PCs. These Windows 10 PCs with the range of Windows capabilities like inking, Mixed Reality and more may be what Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella envisions as leapfrogging smartphones.

Take note, however, the innovation that may make this happen isn't being driven by Microsoft alone. Qualcomm, an industry driver of mobile technology and a vested partner is actively pushing this evolution. So, rather than seeing a doomed Microsoft mobile comeback attempt, perhaps a broader view, that looks beyond Microsoft and includes Qualcomm and a longer perspective that looks years down the road is in order.

Qualcomm, not Microsoft, is driving post-smartphone innovation.

What we're seeing may be a natural progression of the convergence of mobile and desktop computing with the support of the company whose tech powers the mobile industry. I think Qualcomm wants to remain that leader while merging the power of connected desktop computing with a telephony-enabled mobile paradigm.

The capabilities that such a convergence would enable as high-capacity, low-latency 5G networks become the norm in several years would be profound.

The future is finally within reach

Visionaries (and science fiction, think Westworld) foretold the full power of computing would come to context-sensitive mobile hardware. It's always been technologically out of reach, however. Windows 10 on ARM, the capabilities of Snapdragon 845 processors and 5G cloud and edge computing changes that.

This is the long-term view Qualcomm's known for.

We're at the ground level of powerful AI, real-time collaboration, mixed-reality, powerful gaming and more that will be achieved on these telephony-capable, pocketable Windows PCs in time.

This true computing on the mobile platform would be that next step beyond smartphones both Mollenkopf and Nadella envision. And that's the kind of long-term view Qualcomm is known for.

Jason L Ward is a columnist at Windows Central. He provides unique big picture analysis of the complex world of Microsoft. Jason takes the small clues and gives you an insightful big picture perspective through storytelling that you won't find *anywhere* else. Seriously, this dude thinks outside the box. Follow him on Twitter at @JLTechWord. He's doing the "write" thing!

  • I had no idea Microsoft was making anything outside of the usual suspects; surface laptop, surface book, and surface pro. Even hololens has gone quiet. With the release of Alexa on PC, Cortana is soon to be extinct and its gong to be easier for IT directors like myself to simply migrate to Google services ava devices as opposed to my current windows environment that includes office 365, SharePoint, Skype, along with windows devices and services. Microsoft's current leadership doesn't understand that people in the enterprise are consumers who bring their personal experiences to work and want those items available to them there as well; this includes directors, superintendents, managers, etc. and although I'm the IT director, I must appease them. By introducing more Android driven items in windows 10, the question becomes, " why don't wee just go all in on Google" along with Alexa since its driven by Android.
  • Very simple: G--gle isn't a product you buy and own. It's "free" spyware built primarily for the benefit of G--gle, not the consumer.
  • Why don't you just say Google?
  • Omg, don't say the G word!
  • Must be one of those trigger words I keep hearing about.
  • And Windows 10 isn't spyware? Microsoft built ads right into the UI!
  • When can I make a call using g the snapdragon chipset? Phone stack would be great!
  • Microsoft has not yet released a phone app utilizing the Snapdragons phone features...Aside from the app i suspect that also something is missing on the driver side.
  • Like a deer with no eye balls...
  •  . .  .
  • "This isn't a Microsoft-mobile-comeback story, its about cellular evolution." Yeah right, after a monumental fu*k-up with windows phone (10) I too would not be extatic about being related to such products. However, if it has windows OS on it, and it is a celluar capable device, then it definitely is a windows phone (no matter how differently you try to call it). I call BS here; man up MS and release a breakthrough device. Don't hide behind new names. No excuses no more.
  • Vdamir, are are Cellular PCs that are hitting the market know, that can be used for Skype calls Windows phones?
  • The problem I have is with Apple and Google's popularity along with their work on progressive web apps they'll eclipse Microsoft in a category they were one of the pioneers of. Satya must do something to increase Microsoft's popularity because currently despite having the surface line, they are viewed as outdated I society as well as enterprise because consumers are the ones working in the enterprise.
  • From a not uncommon perspective, kinda yes, they do seem a bit like phones. If you could fit them in a pocket even more so. Problem is, if Ol' Nads gets the idea these are starting to look a bit like phones they'll get a serious retrenching so best to keep quiet about that. No, we all believe these are not-Phones. If the idea these might be a bit like phones gets around, especially in the consumer space which has no business getting interested in new Microsoft products, we'll all suffer from the inevitable retrench. Please, everyone remember these are NOT phones. They are anything but. And as a consumer I am not interested in the slightest... right folks? I just want one for enterprise use, honest. I promise never to enjoy it.
  •  I get it. Everything about Windows 10 on ARM and Always Connected PC makes sense to me. But I have doubts about Qualcomm and Microsoft's partnership and specially about qualcomm. Qualcomm says they want to push mobility on PCs. What I have observed so far from launched devices based on qualcomm process is two things mainly: i) they are priced OKish, not very aggressive which I was hoping ii) They are riding a lot on battery life. Their strategy makes sense now where intel's current gen of processors simply can not stay connected the way snapdragons can. But, it will be foolish to count out intel. What if next gen intel CPUs are able to do always connected thing. HP launched Envy X2 intel edition already. What if intel based devices can run on low power when not needed and on high power when needed, kind of like Y series and also doing always connected thing. Would anyone pick up qualcomm based device just for an added advantage of battery life? And even battery life condition has to be looked at in perspective. Even today we have intel based devices promising upto 17 hours of battery life like surface book, so is 17 hours of ultimate power not better than 20 hours of less power. Then, there will always be a fraction of a second lag in launching of application on arm processor due to windows on windows layer and they are saying they will optimize top 100 windows applications to reduce this lag but even then it will be there. So, with intel you are getting better raw performance or at least option, range of price points, better than average battery life, thin and light devices and proven track record of working with windows and legacy software. with qualcomm you are getting, slightly better than better than average battery life, thin and light devices, much less raw power without an upward option. I have to say, qualcomm has to throw in more stuff there and, intel, you better catch up and realize that scene is changing. IDK if qualcomm has struck gold in here or not for future, this is just my thought. Eventually, good for customers coz we are getting options. 
  • Look, it is relatively easy. ARM processors are inherently more power efficient. There is no magic Intel can do about it. In fact ARM mobile chips gaining 20% performance YoY while staying very power efficient. Even todays Snapdragon 835 is more powerful than Core M 6Y30 or 7Y30 while consuming significantly less power. Point in case, that Envy X2 Intel edition is not as slim and light as the ARM counterpart most likely due to larger battery while most likely not achieving similar runtime. Likewise whatever overhead emulation means, thing is nothing prevents developers providing native ARM builds of their apps. In addition many traditional desktop apps are .Net/CLI apps, which do not need emulation at all. So currently while some apps have to be emulated, it does not mean it has to stay this way. A prerequisite for this is, that the Windows on ARM devices gain traction in the market - so emulation is only a stop-gap solution and not the final goal.  
  • Agree. Apart from the battery life, I am not sure whether the Envy X2 Intel edition has the capabilities such as  Always connected — these PCs won't need WiFi, but will remain connected to a network and receive notifications and alerts just like smartphones and Instant on — After hours of standby, these PCs will turn-on instantly just like smartphones I think the Envy X2 Intel edition will be similar to the Surface Pro LTE with Windows 10. It will go to hibernate/sleep mode and will start syncing your e-Mails notification when it is turned on again.
  • @Praveen So, that is my question originally. Would you rather pick up a device with 17 hours battery life that has so much more raw power but doesn't sync your emails untill you turn the machine on or a device that can sync your e-mails while sleep, gives you 20 hours of battery life but not a lot of power to run, say, some code compling software like VS. Plus, my question is also a what-if. What if next gen intel processors do get the always on always connected things working. 
  • Your comparison is inherently flawed. In the same form factor it is not 17 vs 20 hours. If i take your surface book 2 as example. 1) The Surface Book 2 throttles heavily when running on akku. So the performance you get when running disconnected from the charger is much slower than the common benchmarks make you believe. 2) The Surface Book 2 has a 75Wh akku, base station and tablet combined. Still it support only 15h video playback and 10.5h surfing on WLAN. When in idle the battery is empty after 4 days. If you just take the tablet without bast station we are looking at 2.5h WLAN surfing and 4h video. Now compare this to say the HP Envy X2, with similar form factor and weight as the tablet portion of the Surface Book (e.g. 700g) - now we are talking.... Talking about VS, most of the time you spend in the editor and would not even notice the performance difference. Part of the reason is, that performance has diminish returns because when running say likes of Visual Studio the cores would not run closely to 100% load.
  • My comparison is not flawed, its general. I am simply comparing the use cases of both types the devices. Don't get into specifics of Surface Book and Envy X2. But as you said about SB2, what SB2 and similar device are giving you is options. You have "upto" 17 hours of battery life and you are trading in some of portability of Envy X2 and similar devices for far superior performance which similar devices will just not be able to give you. I simply feel for the trade off, specially for me personally, there has to be more from ARM side to make me switch to an ARM based PC. Comparing SB2 and Envy X2 concretely is not good because they are two very different device but saying this for the sake of argument. Very strong discussion is also kind of moot because we have not seen these devices perform side by side with intel outside of qualcomm, Microsoft's OEM's controlled environments. But, simple always on connected standby and fraction of improvement in battery life does not seem a paradigm shift enabler. Anyways, I also don't feel that winning in raw performance and battery numbers is the objective here too as I said in my comment below.  
  • Compare the two new envy x2s. The Intel version needs a bigger battery, is thicker and there's also the extra cost of adding lte. Snapdragon has lte integrated into it's chip, can use a much smaller battery to acheive better battery life than Intel so it should be cheaper. So would you pay less for a cheaper device with similar performance. I think alot of people would. 
  • Thats my whole point, you comparing a 75Wh device with 17h runtime against ah 43Wh device with 20h runtime. It looks much worse for x86 if you compare idle times with screen off, there we are talking factos much larger than "just" 2. In any case if you need the performance then you are running out of options - at least currently. But what if you want a lightweight tablet? In this case you do not look at 17h anymore, more like below 10h. Example Galaxy Pro S Tablet with Core M. Formfactor and weight similar to Envy X2 however battery runtime below at least factor 2, standby time below at least factor 4, at the same time less performance at similar price point. Now suddenly these ARM offerings look extremely compelling...
  • What happens to "20hr battery life" when you upgrade to Windows 10 Pro? It certainly is going to drop, maybe heavily, and all advantages will be lost.
  • That IS correct. Their 835 and now 845 are definitely better than core m3 series and definitely core m3 has highest level of threat from snapdragon. However, other Y series CPUs such i5 and i7 are much farther ahead in computation. Besides, emulation is again a chicken and egg kind of problem and is heavily reliant on UWP catching up because ARM support in UWP apps is on by default in VS and not a lot of developers would turn it off. But again, IF modern apps become huge, problem of emulation will be mitigated. People will write more apps when there will be more such devices and there will be more such devices when people will write more apps. But, now this is bigger issue and I am positive MS also has that in mind. Your point about .NET/CLI is also correct. CLI applications are purely platform agnostic. But back to processors game, at this point, I don't think WoA has much to offer. Nothing so significant that can cause a market shift towards ARM in windows world. And I am pretty sure, looking at how cool qualcomm is, that is not their target as well. They will never be competing direct against likes of Surface Book or Dell XPS. They are more towards what the future holds kind of a company. Hence, the biggest advantage of WoA is going to creation of new types of devices. Andromeda device might be the first one, but we should expect more new types of devices. 
  • @Nitish_KSharma, I think this is a good thing that ARM and Intel are now effectively neck-in-neck at the low-end. That competition will drive both of them, which is a solid win for Windows and for us as consumers. This puts pricing pressure on Intel, incents them to keep working on the battery gap, while immediately providing a new option for users who happen to value battery life above all else. This may also be part of why Intel is now working with AMD to incorporate better graphics into smaller motherboards -- if you can't beat them at the low end, extend the differences and advantages at the middle to high-end. Back before ARM processors were well known, shortly before Windows NT premiered, RISC chips (Reduced Instruction Set Computer, including the DEC Alpha, MIPS, and PowerPC) were hailed as the future of computing versus the older CISC (Complex Instruction) chips like the Intel x86 series. They were able to achieve higher clock rates because they were simpler. Microsoft made versions of Windows NT for those chips also. Intel fought back and incorporated some aspects of RISC into their own design, while maintaining the full x86 complex instruction set for full backward compatibility, and adding new features to their chips to help developers. They managed to make the power per dollar of the x86 series better than anything straight RISC could do at the time and effectively put an end to the competing RISC chips of the day. Meanwhile, at the low end, ARM used the same tech to build very simple low-power chips. RISC has the advantage of being easier, faster, and cheaper to develop. This means a faster rate of improvement. Just look at how much they have improved in the past 10 years. From a feeble Palm Pilot that was not remotely in the same league as a PC (even a PC at the time) to powerful devices arguably faster than Intel's mid-tier offerings, while still winning on price and battery life. It seems reasonably likely that 5-10 years from now, at that pace, ARM's RISC chips may very well have eclipsed Intel's designs even at the high end. Of course, that was the also the thought when MIPS and Alpha came along, so there is precedent for Intel bending their own development curve to remain the PC king. However, this time, they're competing with chips that already have massive success in computing devices (smartphones) that are used by hundreds of millions, if not billions, of people. Whatever happens, it was clearly critical for MS to make this move and work with ARM. Otherwise, the risk was too great that in a few years, they would have an OS and platform that only runs on expensive-to-manufacture, low-end CPUs -- not a good position for a business to be in.
  • Oh I agree on so many points with you. Definitely the future of computer is RISC. It always has ben RISC. On paper, RISC is so much better than CISC and with commercial succes of Snapdragon, RISC based processors are much bigger threat to intel now. big.LITTLE architecture of ARM is much better in dividing workload and power efficieny. And yes I agree overall its good for us. Monopoly is never good. Competition is always better. On what you said about it being critical for MS. In this regard, MS has always known that ARM is future. They saw it coming and that's much before snapdragon came into picture. In windows case, the software has been ready to run on ARM since Windows 8 and even prior, its just that there hasn't been any compelling hardware, neither from MS nor from partners. With Windows on Windows layer along with some platform dependent bits, windows has been able to run on different architectures.The wrong step was RT and locking down of the system but Windows corrected itself with Windows 10. I was listening to CMO of qualcomm one day and he admitted that Microsoft actually didn't have to do a lot to make Windows run on ARM because they have had code for it for some time, its just that in Snapdragon they found a partner who is willing to take that first step with them and willing to contribute and of course they have much better plan this time around too by allowing full OS to run on ARM. but even in this new Windows on ARM, they are relying on WoW to do emulation and some other stuff. 
  • Well almost.  Though go back further and ARM was in desktops and capable of killing x86 and PowerPC chips.  Acorn was the company and back in day when desktop were on early pentium and servers maybe a pentium pro acorn had the StrongARM sitting in its desktop which bettered both x86 and power pc chips of their era.  Acorns demise was what stopped desktop ARM development dead in its tracks and consigned it to a generation of pda's and hand held pc's and that being the market the spun off ARM holdings made chips for that market.  So the alternatives were able to leave them in the dust for desktop work. That said i reckon the problems of cisc (which tbh looks more like what I'd call complicated risc acting as a cisc) is heat.  And that heat and rise of what exactly is expected of mobile phones and computers is dragging ARM right back and of course as they improve and add more and more performance they can go a lot further before heat becomes an issue so think it won't be too long before we have ARM chips that could actually compete at higher end of desktop and gaming again.   Microsoft i belive for some time with RT, phones, win 10 basic builds for Rasp PI iot use, server stuff and now windows on ARM are actually making sure they aren't caught cold if/when that happens I'd actually love to see what would happen if some talented cpu designers got together and designed an ARM desktop processor on next gen micron fab etc and went all out at what could be done (kinda like what digital did when they produced the StrongARM). Yeah x86 will keep adding to performance but reckon they have reached point where its getting harder to eek out the improvements.  Just like they always fail making them low power same problems apply increasing the power ;)    
  • it's hard to say this new category isn't competing with smartphone if you use "leapfrogging" term. i think both will coexist just fine. smartphone had myriad of games released throughout the decade and i doubt windows wil get it anytime soon, so mobile gamers will stick with it for this specific use case.
  • LTE on PC's isn't new so technically the only "new" things are instant on and better battery life. Neither of those features stands out as must haves or a compelling reason to buy a "cellular PC" over a standard one with LTE for the majority of buyers so the idea that "always connected PC'S" are something extraordinary seems a bit of a stretch especially when you still end up running the same Windows.
  • It's going to be an interesting time. Personally I think MSFT should still have pushed continuum on phone. I now still have to carry 2 devices. Windows on ARM pc's are not ideal either for many mobile situations. It can not do without the smartphone completely, even in business.
  • You still have to carry two or maybe three or four devices with Continuum. You still need a display, keyboard and mouse to be effective with Windows. Continuum only complicates PCs.
  • Nah, one device is enough. My convertable laptop has a touch screen, a keyboard, a touch pad and Continuum. Only problem is, they never got it powering on in the right mode dependent on whether I had it opened for tablet or desktop use. Hopefully the not-Phone release will include a fix.
  • If only there was a way to have the devices in place so when you arrive at home/work/etc. so you just dock. I get really tired of taking my wireless charger with me every day also.
  • This all sounds wonderful.  But you seem to be forgetting that Android and iOS will also get the wonderful capabilities of 5G and the Snapdragon 845.   Imagine the power the 845 has when it’s NOT running a bloated, heavy, barnacle encrusted desktop OS like Windows?   Throw in not having to run 20 year old apps in emulation, and future iOS and Android devices will run circles around Windows on ARM.  In way less RAM, giving even better battery life.  Windows phones running desktop Windows - with no mobile apps  STILL - will not appeal to very many people.   The number of people who need to compile code in Visual Studio while driving to work is vanishingly small.  This supposed “full power of Windows” is useless in my pocket when there are no MOBILE apps.   Also, I find this whole “post smartphone” idea to be incredibly pretentious.   Phones and tablets have taken us into the post PC era.   The idea of PCs “leapfrogging” phones is about as realistic as an elephant leapfrogging a gazelle.  
  • @naddy6969, while I recognize that Windows phones used a modified core from Windows, and so not exactly the same as desktop Windows, recall that Windows on phones ran BETTER with LESSER CHIPS and LESS RAM than Android. I think MS knows how to make the most of the hardware. MS' problem early on was lack of apps, which created a reverse chicken and egg problem where customers didn't want the phones due to lack of apps and app developers didn't want to write apps due to a lack of customers. Other than that, I don't think Windows Phone was ever rated poorly compared to the other mobile OS's, especially not on performance, battery life, or any of the other features that better hardware can mitigate.
  • Windows Phones were also functionally inferior and simplistic compared to Android. The tradeoffs weren't worth it.
  • Windows phones had more features and functions built in than Android devices. It was only functions added by specific apps they lacked (and I did not miss), which is all GSC was commenting on.
  • Better than running Java... ughh... Plus the OS will not be emulated, it will be native ARM64. All calls to the OS, .NET, etc. will be native ARM64. It's only the actual Win32 code in the Win32 program that will be "emulated", and by emulated it's more like compiled from x86 to ARM64 in chunks (that are cached). The performance/battery impact of this approach is not nearly as severe as the concern trolls on here are pretending it to be.
  • [quote]This all sounds wonderful.  But you seem to be forgetting that Android and iOS will also get the wonderful capabilities of 5G and the Snapdragon 845.[/quote] It would be much worse if Android and iOS could use ARM SoCs while Windows is stuck with x86. So without supporting ARM Windows would not stand a chance at all. At least the HW playing field is leveled. Besides i disagree with your statement about bloated and heavy desktop OS. The amount of features the OS offers hardly have any impact on application performance or battery runtime. 
  • You think that running Win32 apps in emulation will have no impact on performance?  On battery life?  Emulating a foreign architecture is extremely CPU intensive.  
  • Of course emulation has a significant impact on performance and battery life. But Microsoft has to start somewhere and in particular they have to overcome the chicken-egg problem, that no-one is compiling for Windows ARM without devices on the market and without emulation users will reject Windows on ARM. You cannot force developers to compile for ARM without available devices. So emulation is a stop-gap solution in order to make the devices accepted by the public, which in turn increases the likelyhood for native ARM apps. Besides even today, there are many desktop apps that are not native (e.g. compiled with C/C++) but are devloped with one of the CLI languages like C# in conjunction with .Net. These do not have to be emulated. In addition even if we are talking native C/C++ apps, these apps rely on frameworks (like the UI), which also running natively on WoA - in essence only part of the application has to be emulated.
  • OK, fair enough.  I misunderstood, and thought you were saying that emulation would have no impact.   Agreed that MS has to start somewhere, and that - hopefully - emulation is a short term solution.  WOA is badly needed, since there are no viable mobile Intel SoCs.   But again, my point was that none of this is happening in a vacuum.   iOS and Android will also be running on future, higher powered mobile chipsets.   The challenge for Microsoft is to make WOA phones - yes, they will be seen as phones, hokey names like “telephony enabled, always connected pocketable PCs” notwithstanding - attractive to at least SOME iOS and Android users.  They have to get some mobile apps going.  Failing that, then these will be extremely niche devices, and will not change any games. There will be no “post smartphone” era with a device that can not replace the current smartphones.  
  • Actually Nady, they won't be phones,😉 and "telephony-enabled pocketable PC" isn't a hokey NAME, its a description in the ABSENCE of a name. (My piece on what should Microsoft name its foldable. Mobile Surface highlights that fact😉.) Pocket PC is a more succinct title for the category for now🙂.
    Now, take a look at the piece, you'll notice an acknowledgement of a couple of things.
    1. One that, the first generation of this device would be enterprise/prosumer focused, virtually invisible (and with good reason) from the general consumer space. But it is a category-defining device, not an end unto itself.
    2. Two, there is an acknowledgement of the app gap. And here I point out parallel technologies, PWAs, that will be evolving while gen one of this device is being positioned in the enterprise and among prosumers. I think by gen 3 MS and OEMs, 2020, will be able to bring the category to consumers with sufficient PWA support to make Pocket PCs with full Windows Core OS, that adapts to context CShell and continuum, to consumers. (MS, Google and Apple have adopted PWAs)
    Here's an excerpt from the piece:
    "A collusion of factors supports the idea and viability of a telephony-enabled pocket PC category. Don't expect the first generation of a folding mobile Surface to change the world, however. It'll simply define the category. But like all things Qualcomm invests in, give it time as the category evolves along with supporting tech like PWAs and OEM partnerships that will eventually bring this category to consumers."
    So yes, I agree, in the beginning, I believe they will be very niche devices. I wrote a piece how MS is preparing the enterprise for these devices, and of course prosumers may embrace them. But, in time I believe MS with OEM support, as Surface did with 2-in1s will bring this category to the masses.
    And I know it's hard for people here to conceive that a pocketable device can NOT be a smartphone. But perhaps if you look outside of the framework of where we are today and leap forward a bit. Think from the framework of where we are HEADED backward to where we are. Where we are headed is a device akin to what you see in Westworld, not so advanced of course, but is CONCEPTUALLY in reach.
    A device with PC power (Window Core OS), on a form shifting, pocketable form factor with telephony abilities. The device on Westworld is more than a phone, but does what a phone does- makes calls. That's what the first generation of this Pocketable Surface running full Windows will be- more than a phone but capable of making calls.
    If this makes it to market it will be just first generation of this new category, but things will only evolve from here as MS and OEMs iterate.
  • If it won't be a phone, why is the codename a phone number? That argument is getting harder and harder to make. Do you really feel Microsoft is dumb enough to think they can convince anyone that a 6" touchscreen slab that makes phone calls and is sitting on the shelf at Verizon next to the Galaxy X and iPhone 10 isn't a phone? No way.
  • What exactly is this magical “PC power”?   iOS and Android devices will be running in the same hardware.   Why don’t they have “PC power”? The answer, of course, is that many people here seem to think that “it’s not a real computer unless it’s running Windows”.   Uh huh, right.  That’s the very definition of myopic. And yes, they WILL be phones.   If it has a phone number, it’s a phone.  The original “portable phones” in the mid 80s were huge and weighed about 5 pounds.  No one called them “telephony enabled, semi portable, non pocketable devices”.   They were just called mobile phones.  Lets face it, if Microsoft had any success in phones, no one would be afraid to use the dirty “phone” word.   Everyone keeps dancing around it, with some bizarre code name.    Any current smartphone is “more than a phone, but capable of making calls”.  They are, in fact, pocketable PCs.   Yes, they are Personal Computers, they just are not running Windows.  Current phones have more power than Windows PCs of 10 years ago.  Why is it a PC when it’s running Windows, but not a PC when it’s running iOS?
  • Besides the fact I hate this term “category defining”. The original iPhone was. It’s a smartphone. It’s a pocket PC always connected. It’s personal and it’s a computer. All this positive spin that MS are gonna bring out something game changing. Not gonna happen MS have always been a follower. I really worry that through personal reasons Aat Nad has torpedoed MS in the consumer space.  The mass market is consumer and be without that they are gonna be just an enterprise company with maybe a gaming arm.  Sad times.  This courier device sounds like a neat device but isn’t gonna change the world. It will be a cumbersome phone or a bad portable PC without a keyboard.  Can’t see it yet.  Hope I’m wrong. 
  • removed double post
  • Just MO, but I think the biggest problem MS faces is that common people only associate one form of computing with their name - sitting down at a desk or table with a older larger tower/keyboard and mouse, or for the majority, a laptop of some kind. A stationary activity to do one thing - use a computer. And even more, this reminds people of going to work.  And this is the thing a phone/mobile device is not, and therefore MS is not in the conversation of normal/modern mobile computing activities for the vast majority of people, because they just don't want to be forced to sit at a thing to browse the web. And this goes for Surface as well - people still view it as using it while sitting. And MS went on acting like this wasn't the case forever - until now. And I'm sure they have all the marketing feedback, and reports, and even more, the assessments of the investments needed to even approach changing how people inherently view MS, and then the chance it would even work. (again guessing really bad odds there). Normal everyday people don't want 'Windows in their pocket', well at least here in the US. (Not sure about the rest of the West). Do a relative few - sure, what's left of the MS fans, and maybe some businesses. But to believe that any device that MS builds will change the fundamental problem - how the majority of the everyday world views and associates with MS as a name brand - I just think misses the point. Lack of commitment did damage the view of MS within the PC and MS Fan world, but it just doesn't matter overall. Because it's not MS that decided to become IBM - common everyday people, decided a much longer time ago they were. And then when the ecosystems were decided by companies that sold services to those people, they took it one step further and simply didn't consider MS to be relevent. MS was just ignored fom that point on. And here we are.
  • Good points all.   Indeed, and here we are.  
  • This is a new beginning with S835 ACPCs. You guys can have all doubts, that's fine. But only constructive feedbacks are good for moving forward.
    At the moment, the line is blurred. That's the point of ACPC.
  • What line is blurred? They are laptops with slightly better battery life only if you choose to use Windows RT. I see no blurry lines at all.
  • We're at the ground level of powerful AI, real-time collaboration, mixed-reality, powerful gaming and more that will be achieved on these telephony-capable, pocketable Windows PCs in time.
    The ground level has to succeed in order for this to happen. MS will screw it up. Windows is used for Win32, UWP is near dead, PWA is hailed as a saviour but wont happen. MS approach to Win32 on Arm is block it, emulation only in some misguided belief that UWP/PWA will prevail. They didn't even offer a compromise with an Arm Win32 64-bit universal binary for x86 too, so on Arm PC's the Win32 desktop has no future it is emulation only and will always trail x86, it will not be seen by PC users as a real PC and will fail to gain any traction. MS will scratch it's head and wonder were did it all go wrong.
  • Why would you need an universal binary? You can just compile targetting a Win32 ARM64 binary.
  • Because you can’t compile a Java app for Android to run on Xbox   A universal app means one codebase to maintain but can target several architectures/platforms. Windows platforms.  UWP is amazing. Getting the windows core on all these platforms is a miracle of software engineering. Where MS screwed up was in the tooling - it’s still toooo hard.  MVVM Adsptive XAML. Terrible widgets/toolkit libraries. Snooze fest UI building blocks. Blend is another mountain to climb.  FCU has just boosted a ton of visual aids (fluent design) but it still has a way to go.  2 examples: 1) we only just have navigationview meaning you don’t need Template 10 or the UWP community toolkit for a hamburger menu. But Debs need to wait until the critical mass are on FCU (they aren’t yet) 2) want a simple grid of data? You know “grid control”. Nightmare to roll yourself in XAML. So MS put Tekerks 3rd party control in Template Studio. MS you need your own UWP grid control!!!! Laying out data in a grid is so fundamental to so many enterprise apps shocking.  So, Universal Apos. Brilliant idea. The platforms can run them.  Try making one. It’s like putting your wedding tackle in a mangler. 
  • If Google had ARM Chromebook with 4G, not one would call it "a phone" even if it would be possible to use it for calls everyone would be like "M$ again late in the game" ;D Also, some seem to feel that "it's not real PC". For some tasks it's the right PC; for some tasks it's not. Maybe the feel has something to do with only V8 being "real engine"?
  • As to the warditorial, I like it and for me it makes sense
  • Actually, even google would call it a phone.   You see, google has success in phones.  They are not afraid of the word “phone” the way everyone here is. But that’s only because Microsoft failed at phones.   If Windows phones had been a raging succces - instead of a spectacular flameout -  this mythical device would be called the Surface Phone.  Period.  
  • Screw you for saying 'telephony' so many times, this article is ******* terrible.