If Microsoft’s Surface line had quite a big impact on the rise of 2-in-1 PCs, it’s quite interesting to see that the software giant let its hardware partners test the waters with Windows 10 on ARM PCs. We have yet to see a Surface PC with an ARM processor, but just like Apple is rumored to be working on ARM MacBook, it would be very surprising if Microsoft wasn’t interested in an ARM Surface.
There are prototype Qualcomm-powered Surface Pro devices “floating around”, and that Microsoft has “considered replacing the low-end Pro devices with Snapdragon chips but so far, has yet to ship any products that do so for various reasons”.
One of the major stumbling blocks is likely to be that Snapdragon chips aren’t powerful enough to deliver the sort of performance users want – particularly when software emulation issues are thrown into the mix, when using x86 apps – and more to the point, the performance that Microsoft would want to offer in its Pro 2-in-1s.
The first crop of so-called ‘always connected’ ARM-powered PCs were criticized for sluggish overall performance levels, with the Snapdragon 835 not giving the machines nearly enough oomph, and the succeeding Snapdragon 850 was similarly seen as rather a performance flop.
However, we now have Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8cx chip on the horizon, which we recently saw that Lenovo is making a laptop with, and despite not hearing much else about that, we can but hope this will finally really push forward and impress in terms of getting a smoothly running portable where the previous Snapdragon solutions have failed
So maybe it won’t be so long before Microsoft has a powerful enough Qualcomm engine to build a base model Surface Pro around, with early prototyping work setting the backdrop.