Microsoft has already made Windows run on ARM processors – that’s what the ill-fated and discontinued Surface RT tablets from 2012 were all about.
They were running on NVIDIA Tegra processors and were abject failures because they did not run x86 software, the standard Windows software that runs on Intel processors.
While the news is now thick with reports stating Microsoft and Qualcomm are working together to bring Windows 10 to ARM processors, complete with the ability to run the all-important x86 Win32 software base, as noted at Qualcomm’s media release, the fact is that Microsoft and Qualcomm working together is actually old news.
Why? Well, back on 19 March, 2015, Qualcomm noted in a media release that "Qualcomm announces support of Windows 10 for the Dragonboard 410c Development platform and mobile device reference designs".
Still, the fact that Qualcomm announced at Microsoft’s Windows Hardware Engineering Community event (WinHEC) that it is "collaborating with Microsoft Corp. to enable Windows 10 on mobile computing powered by next-generation Qualcomm Snapdragon processors, enabling mobile, power efficient, always-connected cellular PC devices" is new and exciting, and suggests a new generation devices of mobile Windows devices that will impress in terms of size, weight, battery life and power.
We’re all yet to see if this is the case – after all, Microsoft historically takes three attempts at anything it does to get to a state of things working as originally promised, or at least starting to, but hey, I’m prepared to be surprised.
The thing is, given that Microsoft’s first attempts at things usually suck in some way, what if you wanted to buy a pocket size Windows 10 computer today?
Well, there are two on Indiegogo you can buy.
There’s the oddly named "Gole1 – the World’s Smallest PC" and also claimed "cheapest Windows 10 Intel Touch Mini PC" starting at US$79, which is meant to have started shipping mid this year.
There’s also the much more impressive "Ockel Sirius A: the World’s Most Versatile Mini PC" running Windows 10, starting at a much more expensive US$549 available to order, but it won’t ship until an estimated May 2017.
Both of these devices are running actual Intel processors, so there won’t be any issues with software compatibility or problems with software or hardware x86 emulation, but performance as always will be in question.
Still, if Windows 10 x86 software can now run on an ARM processor, then perhaps this is also good news for Apple’s rumoured ARM-powered MacBooks to come that have no Intel chips inside.
These rumoured Macs don’t yet exist, but if Microsoft and Qualcomm are seemingly promising compatibility with apps designed for Intel processors and are promising performance, Apple can presumably go down the exact same path, too.
What this might mean for Intel is fewer sales to the mass market, with Intel processors relegated to high performance desktops and notebooks.
But for the vast majority of Web browsing, social media using, emailing, app-using people, ARM processors already do the job perfectly well in iOS, Android and Windows Phone devices.
So sleeker Windows 10 devices from phones to notebooks and ultrabooks are on the way, but just how good they truly are, and how compatible they are with the existing Windows software base is yet to be seen.
Just as we’re still waiting to see whether exclusively ARM powered MacBooks are yet to be seen as well.
Good luck to us all – and if you really want a pocket Windows 10 computer, then check out the links above to those Indiegogo projects and see if they appeal.