Why are Microsoft and Qualcomm Working Together on Tablets?

9 Dec

Microsoft and Qualcomm are partnering on tablets in a collaboration that will result in an update of Windows 10 that runs on a chip in Qualcomm’s Snapdragon line of processors, the first Windows 10-Snapdragon pairing.

The partnership is intended to encourage hardware makers to build lightweight Windows devices that have a cellular modem built-in. That means users will be able to connect to cell networks smartphone-style, without the need for additional hardware. Further, the devices will offer longer battery life than most laptops.

For Qualcomm, the No. 1 maker of of chips for smartphones, the partnership offers a new pathway into the tablets and laptops that have been an Intel stronghold. Those devices, though they sell in smaller volumes than phones, still represent a lucrative market—especially the high-priced mobile computers purchased by many companies for their workers. The ability to run Windows 10 also will also bring compability with applications developed for PCs that hadn’t previously worked on Qualcomm-powered hardware.

Microsoft’s collaboration with Qualcomm is not the software’s giant’s first attempt at running Windows on ARM processors. In 2012 Microsoft introduced a previous ARM-compatible version, Windows RT, but got rid of it three years later. Hardware makers did not take to Windows RT devices, in part because of competition from Microsoft’s own initial Surface tablet, which ran the Windows variant. Some analysts criticized Windows RT because it didn’t run applications developed for earlier versions of Windows.