04-22-2017 12:03 PM
- Windows 10 on ARM is just regular Windows 10 that can run on ARM processor architecture, which is the architecture used by Snapdragon, Apple and other phone & tablet manufacturers that supports cellular connectivity. The architecture of your PC is x86 and it can natively run Win32 apps, which are regular programs (like Photoshop, Lightroom, Steam,...) and until Microsoft announced that Windows 10 is coming to ARM these apps could only run on x86 processors, but with Windows 10 on ARM ARM based processors can run Win32 apps with emulation.
Main benefit of Windows 10 on ARM is that the ARM processors are a lot cheaper than say an Intel's Core i5 or i3, but are also weaker (though they are on par with say 7 year old Intel's Core i3 processors), which leads us to cheaper, lighter, slimmer and more battery efficient Windows tablets (and rumoured "ultra paradigm shift mobile device") with cellular LTE and possibly voice connectivity.04-16-2017 08:18 AM
- 04-16-2017 11:01 AMLike 2
So there are two major processor types in consumer electronics.
x86 and ARM. Think of them as two different "languages" for say, the software to speak to the processor.
x86 has it's roots in desktop computing, based around performance and functionality. Suitable for a desktop computer which was plugged in anyways.
ARM had its roots in mobile, which meant an emphasis on efficiency over performance. Suitable for PDAs and phones which had batteries to worry about and had smaller, simpler software.
The two are inherently incompatible, sending ARM instructions to an x86 processor won't work. And vice versa. Like two people speaking Spanish and Vietnamese. We would see it with Windows RT, which was, for the most part, Windows 8.x retranslated to speak ARM instead of x86. However, this meant that most legacy applications built for x86 Windows would not run as they have not been translated.
(and the translation is something that requires source code to do, which meant for many well-known pieces of software, it would require the developer to translate their program. MS decided it would be too complex and made it so RT would only run Store apps. But jailbroken RT could run some rebuilt programs.)
Anyways enough of that tangent. With enough processing power, one can make software that translates between the two, like emulation/virtualization. (like how there are apps/programs that can "pretend" to be a Gameboy Advance and run Gameboy Advance games while the underlying hardware is very much NOT like a GBA.)
So with enough effort, one can introduce an "interpreter" to translate Spanish to Vietnamese and vice versa, but it introduces performance overhead. On an x86 computer, it was powerful enough anyway and power wasn't as big of a concern so we had Android, iOS, etc. emulators for development and such.
But it was impractical to try to have an emulator shoehorn desktop Windows to run on a relatively weak ARM chip. It would be like having an interpreter translating, except that interpreter only had two weeks of Vietnamese lessons and was only given a rudimentary Spanish/Viet dictionary. It would not be pretty. Which made the announcement a bit of a surprise for me.
Anyways, here's some more context:
ARM chips run a whole lot cooler and efficiently than x86 chips. Fans for cooling were a given on desktops, laptops, etc. But phones and tablets built on ARM didn't need fans. Like how the Surface RT was fanless yet the Surface Pro had a fan. (although the x86 Pro was much more powerful too, you could run Crysis on a high-end PC, but on a phone? well...)
Intel made significant strides with a fanless x86 chip (recent Atom generations saw x86 in fanless tablets, a couple phones) but it wasn't quite as competitive. Eventually they stopped.
So right now we have ARM chips working to get more powerful (worth noting that system requirements have largely leveled out in the past decade since Vista launched) and not doing badly at all.
x86 chips have gotten a lot cooler and more efficient, but right now ARM still has the upper-hand in mobile applications. And with Intel canceling their line of lower-cost, lower-power Atom chips some time ago, it created a sort of void in the market that MS is filling with software instead of waiting for someone to enter with hardware.
As announced, much to the surprise of many, Windows 10 on ARM is full desktop x86 Windows retooled to run on ARM chips. Except apparently there is a translator so that legacy x86 programs run at an acceptable performance level. Which surprised me, since I still considered it infeasible from a performance standpoint.
What does this mean for the consumer?
In the next couple years, assuming Windows on ARM doesn't faceplant or fade into the night, we can likely expect tablets and maybe laptops with ARM chips running full Windows 10 to appear, complete with the power efficiency and thermal benefits ARM brings. Back when Intel still had the Atom chip, we saw a lot of 8" full Windows-tablets running around that aren't quite around anymore. Maybe we'll see a lot of small form-factor, lower-cost PCs.
As for phones, it's a possibility since hey, phones! But that's going to be a while, at least a couple years of work. Desktop Windows is a large beast with requirements that outstrip iOS and Android and while it will fit well on a tablet or laptop as we've seen, making it fit on a much smaller phone will be a difficult task, both hardware requirements-wise and user-experience-wise.04-16-2017 04:01 PMLike 4
- ARM - weaker processor, with low battery draw and heat, and built in networking
x86/x64 - stronger processor with high draw, heat and more built in peripheral power (like say, thunderbolt)
It's the same windows that runs on your x86 tablet or x64 computer, running on your ARM based phone or tablet. So those 4 million applications that windows has, can run on your ARM phone or tablet. Most of them don't scale well to touch on small screens like phones, but it will let you have a full computer in your pocket if you plug it in to a dock, a screen, or a laptop type dock.
So you can have say, adobe illustrator or, oracle database, on your phone (but probably mainly use such things docked, in "continuum", for business use)
Some do scale well however, such as for example chrome apps, like google maps, Spotify and more. And some other apps if you turn windows scaling up high enough. Even the odd game.
And the ARM processors are cheaper and come with built in mobile networking, so it lets Microsoft kill the chromebook market with cheap as simple laptops and tablets with built in networking.
Put simply, it's a more computer-y phone than any current smartphone, and a more "mobile-y" laptop/tablet than windows can currently run on.
Bringing the experience of current windows tablets, to a range of cheaper tablets, laptops, and in general phones (all phones use ARM) with mobile network access. Longer battery life too (at the expense of high processing power, and better peripheral connections).
It's also a big deal because windows 10's vision is an OS that can run on any hardware, big screen, small screen, different chips, no screen. So it can run on anything. So this is also a step on that journey.
It's convenient timing too, because things like phones and tablets are now "up to spec" in terms of what windows needs. Being that windows is a more complex operating system than android and ios, it runs better with more ram etc.
Last edited by Drael646464; 04-17-2017 at 03:03 AM.04-17-2017 02:50 AMLike 1
For example, my 16 year old spends his time gaming and doing - erm - stuff on his computer.
Here is what he did this morning. It was using his computer, Photoshop, Illustrator, and after effects.
He would on use an ARM computer if he could run those apps. Even for me, I need a Win32 VPN browser plugin to authenticate to my work. I can't use Android, IOS or Win10Mobile. (or Linux for that matter) unless I had an emulator.
Sent from mTalk04-22-2017 10:19 AM
Same with laptops - chromeOS is stealing marketshare and mindshare from Microsoft.
These, unlike mobile, are battles MS can win ground in, now. Cellular connected servers could offer some interesting network possibilities as well. And if they do reach into those spaces, it increases UWP development, mindshare and opens up the possibility of going into phones.
These devices will all also be phones after all too. They have cellular networking, and windows 10 can already make phone calls, send texts, and make a hotspot.
Intel chips will still be around, people will still buy high performance devices.04-22-2017 12:03 PMLike 2
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