Windows 10 ARM battery life is already exceeding expectations

By Shawn Knight ยท 20 replies
Oct 18, 2017
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  1. Microsoft late last year announced a partnership with Qualcomm to bring the full Windows 10 experience to ARM-powered devices. Terry Myerson, Executive Vice President of Microsoft’s Windows and Devices Group, promised at the time that Snapdragon-powered Windows 10 devices would be efficient in the power consumption department.

    We’re still waiting for the partnership to bear fruit but in the interim, new details regarding efficiency (and a few other subjects) have emerged. With regard to battery life, Pete Bernard, Principal Group Program Manager for Connectivity Partners at Microsoft, said that to be frank, battery life at this point is beyond their expectations.

    “We set a high bar for [our developers], and we’re now beyond that. It’s the kind of battery life where I use it on a daily basis. I don’t take my charger with me. I may charge it every couple of days or so. It’s that kind of battery life.”

    During Qualcomm’s annual 5G Summit in Hong Kong this week, it was confirmed that the company's timeline for announcing devices by the end of 2017 is still on track. Don McGuire, VP of Global Product Marketing for Qualcomm, said during a roundtable event attended by Trusted Reviews that additional details would be shared in the coming weeks.

    Microsoft is already testing “hundreds” of devices at its headquarters in Redmond despite the fact that it only has three manufacturing partners on board right now (Asus, HP and Lenovo). Over time, however, this will likely change and result in more options at varying price points – great news for consumers.

    Microsoft’s willingness to revisit ARM-based Windows machines after the failure of Windows RT demonstrates the company’s resilience and proves that it can learn from past missteps.

    Improved battery life was also a focus of Microsoft’s earlier efforts in the space but half a decade ago, things were simply different. ARM-based hardware wasn’t nearly as powerful and efficient as it is today and Microsoft’s previous OS didn’t exhibit the same level of refinement as Windows 10.

    Perhaps the biggest nail in the coffin for earlier ARM-based Windows systems, however, was the OS’ inability to run traditional desktop applications.

    Microsoft is skirting that issue this time around by using emulation technology. I suppose it’s possible that Microsoft could have come up with that idea in 2012, but I’m not sure that ARM chips of that era were powerful enough to do so. And even if they were, the added work may have stressed the chips to the point that they’d lose any of their efficiency benefits, defeating the entire purpose of employing them.

    The first wave of new ARM-based chips will be powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835, the same chip found inside most of today’s current flagship Android smartphones. It should have no problem driving Windows 10 and the emulation needed to run Universal Windows Platform apps and standard Win32 desktop applications.

    Just as it was with Microsoft’s original effort, battery life will be paramount, especially given the broad availability and affordability of x86-based laptops. Customers need a reason to opt for an ARM-powered laptop and stellar battery life would be it. Indeed, if Bernard’s comments about multi-day battery life prove accurate, it would truly be game-changing (just imagine if you only had to charge your smartphone a couple of times a week).

    It’s too early to know if the second coming of ARM-based Windows machines will be a success but you have to admire Satya Nadella for giving it another go.

    Permalink to story.

  2. roberthi

    roberthi TS Addict Posts: 326   +83

    Yeah...take it from people who have a vested interest in selling you something.
    JaredTheDragon likes this.
  3. VitalyT

    VitalyT Russ-Puss Posts: 3,996   +2,387

    Better timing, better chance for success. They should get much better reception now.
    hyperspaced likes this.
  4. MoeJoe

    MoeJoe Banned Posts: 837   +440

    No numbers. Garbage journalism.
  5. CrisisDog

    CrisisDog TS Booster Posts: 139   +33

    Fail. I really don't see this being any different than Windows RT. Consumers have already been forced to dump discontinued Surface tablets and Windows phones based on ARM. You really think they're going to give it another chance? I think not...
    petert, Theinsanegamer and Reehahs like this.
  6. seeprime

    seeprime TS Maniac Posts: 233   +210

    That's a bit harsh. I see it as emotional journalism. When facts aren't used, only emotions are left.
  7. Bao Nguyen

    Bao Nguyen TS Booster Posts: 69   +42

    The difference this time around is that they will not lock down but allow any x86 programs to be run, via emulations, or any ARM-compiled programs. Windows RT tablet couldn't run a full Photoshop instance like the one in the demo could.
    JaredTheDragon and Teko03 like this.
  8. CaptainTom

    CaptainTom TS Maniac Posts: 345   +158

    So how much "Emulation" is required?

    Can I play AOEIII and HL2 on Ultra?
  9. ET3D

    ET3D TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,504   +236

    The presentation from 2016 showed World of Tanks Blitz running, so the answer is presumably yes.
  10. Arris

    Arris TS Evangelist Posts: 4,647   +405

    "battery life is already exceeding expectations"....

    Running applications via emulation, I bet performance isn't exceeding expectations.
  11. enemys

    enemys TS Maniac Posts: 171   +166

    Blitz is a UWP title that already has an ARM version for mobiles. It might have been emulated, but it doesn't need emulation at all - just recompilation of PC version, at most, and only if it's C++ based.
  12. ET3D

    ET3D TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,504   +236

    I'm sure it does. Such expectations start pretty low. :)

    Fair enough. I guess we'll have to wait and see.
  13. CrazyDave

    CrazyDave TS Enthusiast Posts: 38   +31

    I could have sworn I read something a few months back about Intel claiming that if MS does go ahead with any kind of x86 emulation, Intel would take legal action due to x86 licensing rights.

    If MS is willing to move ahead with development and face the legal challenge, they have my respect. I think few companies would risk that. In my opinion that is putting the customer first... of course profit projections probably have the biggest sway on the decision. Microsoft's general reputation seems to slowly be changing for the better under Nadella.
    CaptainTom likes this.
  14. Theinsanegamer

    Theinsanegamer TS Evangelist Posts: 1,230   +1,324

    Will they though? I seem to remember the claiming that they would support windows mobile, only to drop it like a hot potato a year later.

    I dont blame anybody for not trusting MS.
  15. CaptainTom

    CaptainTom TS Maniac Posts: 345   +158

    The new CEO is definitely exactly the type of person MS needed, and he is just objectively good at his job. Period.

    I have wanted a third competitor in the x86 cpu space for a VERY long time. ARM would be the perfect alternative to low power and budget applications.

    Remember the Athlon 5350 and how it was the perfect ultra budget build CPU?? $55 cpu + $30 motherboard! I could see a 3.0GHz ARM CPU filling this niche....
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2017
  16. hyperspaced

    hyperspaced TS Member Posts: 24   +8

    The difference with Windows Phone is that this time around ARM devices will be running THE FULL Windows OS.
    So, ALL applications will be running.
  17. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 12,083   +1,345

    NO, just the 32bit :sigh:
  18. hyperspaced

    hyperspaced TS Member Posts: 24   +8

    There is no technical limitation as to why x64 instructions will not run on ARM64.
    The truth is that the need for 64-bit addressing on a "mobile" device is rare. I guess Microsoft wanted to use a proven technology (WOW) as is, making incremental steps, instead of redesigning to fit the niche market of x64 apps.

    Nevertheless, I think this time Microsoft stands a chance.
  19. erickmendes

    erickmendes TS Evangelist Posts: 428   +181

    I agree, ARM is becoming the alternative for casual computing that could pose a great threat to Intel and AMD cpus, as it's uses a lot less power and can cost a lot less too. There's a lot more phones in the world than PCs, the rise of smartphones gave ARM the playground it needed to catchup with Intel/AMD on many aspects.
    CaptainTom likes this.
  20. maxxcool

    maxxcool TS Rookie

    Sure, if your browsing the web, on a 1080p display, at 100nits in low power mode.

    change it to a 4k display with 60hz refresh or higher, run large spreadsheet calcuations while playing .265 content
    at 90% max brightness and the number comes way down.
  21. erickmendes

    erickmendes TS Evangelist Posts: 428   +181

    The point is the processor... if you use a configuration like you said with an Atom CPU or another x86 CPU it will use more power than an ARM design, that's what I was pointing out. It's not about the rest (screen res, refresh, yada yada).

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