Windows 10 on ARM could (should) be a game changer for Microsoft

Windows RT, the version of Windows with native support for ARM processors, failed miserably due to lack of support by developers. Other recent efforts to conquest the mobile space also came to nothing: Project Islandwood and Astoria (port iOS and Android apps to Windows) didn’t get the interest they requested, and it seemed that every attempt on this space was cursed from the beginning.

This situation could really change with the recent announcement from Qualcomm, who has showed how their ARM processors can finally run Windows 10 and Windows software quite well thanks to emulation.

We’ll have to see if this “quite well” is “really well”, but it seems clear that the latest mobile CPUs are really powerful. In fact, most of us underutilize that hardware, so taking advantage of it by supporting this platform could be specially interesting.

This support opens the gate to future smartphones that can become real PCs thanks to Continuum (the problem with Continuum on the Lumia 950/XL was similar to the one Windows RT had), but there are also a nice set of opportunities for new convertibles: a Surface Pro could last longer and include 4G/LTE connetivity for example.

That poses a real opportunity for Microsoft in the mobile space at last, and a real threat for its rivals, who had the software advantage and now could be competing in equal terms. It’s still too soon to judge the result, but this is one of the most promising things Microsoft has in its sleeve.

Let’s hope it’s not the last one.

Source: Microsoft now has the tools to make the Surface Pro the ultimate mobile computer – The Verge

Google plans on designing its own chips: easier said than done

Amir Efrati on The Information has revealed the conversation between Google and some chip makers about “developing chips based on Google’s own preferred designs“.

The idea here is says Efrati, to “bring more uniformity” and “be more competitive with Apple’s phones at the high end of the market

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I have some questions for Google. For example, if they design special chips for their Android phones, will they release those designs to their partners? Or will they keep those designs for themselves? Qualcomm, MediaTek and others won’t be happy about that, and even if Google becomes a hardware company the challenges are huge if they don’t want to be perceived as counterproductive to their partners.

Designing chips is no small feat either. Apple has recruited a lot of talent there in the past few years in order to accomplish what they have today, and I suspect Google is absolutely dependent on companies such as Qualcomm in order to design those chips. They simply don’t have the resources to do that by themselves. Efrati confirms this:

In the discussions, which occurred this fall, Google representatives put forward designs of chips it was interested in co-developing, including a phone’s main processor

Designing a chip and making it available to all phone makers would be really interesting. Hopefully that will make fragmentation not such a big problem in the future, and in fact I see this having some part to play in that hypothetical merger of Android and Chrome OS, which for sure will benefit too of special chips designed by Google. Hardware & Software going hand in hand is a safe bet here.

Apple was right, it seems.

Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0: what’s up, USB Power Delivery?

The new Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 seems a beefy proposal for future smartphones. Let’s hope it doesn’t overheat as its predecessor, something that has really made other makers to look for alternatives in their flagship devices this year.

One of the most important features is Quick Charge 3.0, which allos to charge 80% of the battery in 35 minutes. But there’s more:

According to Qualcomm, the Snapdragon 820’s focus is on intelligent fast charging rather than raw performance. Its new Quick Charge 3.0 spec is up to 27 percent faster when refilling your battery, but the big deal is an algorithm that saves energy during those rapid-fire recharges. Compared to Quick Charge 2.0, you’re losing up to 45 percent less power

The new USB spec allows for Power Delivery that goes up to 100W but I wonder if the supposedly quick charge of the new USB 3.1 interface can match Qualcomm’s. I guess the combination of that interface and the right processor technology (not only from Qualcomm) could lead the way to big enhancements in one of the most problematic areas of the mobile experience.

Source: Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 packs 600Mbps LTE and smarter charging