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  • ‘Always Connected PC’ – Windows 10 on ARM – talking points

    Posted on December 5th, 2017 at 14:16 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    The big Qualcomm presentation in Hawaii is over and there’s likely to be a zillion opinion pieces appearing in the next few hours. Coverage at the keynote wasn’t very good — both phone and WiFi coverage apparently sucked — but at least the internet feed went well (give or take the Chinese translation).

    You’re going to hear a lot about new Windows PCs that run a full day without charging, while at the same time supporting the full Windows ecosystem — x86 compatibility. I have no doubt that PC makers will be able to meet the battery spec, sooner or later. At the same time, I’m very skeptical about the ability to emulate Windows on Snapdragon chips. Or any non-Intel/AMD chips, for that matter.

    “Always Connected PC” doesn’t excite me all that much. If I need something that’s on more-or-less immediately, I grab my phone.

    Microsoft has a sales pitch for the Always Connected Faithful, just posted on the Windows blog. I could pick the post apart, but you’ll have more fun without a spoiler. Just ask yourself how Microsoft measures “lower costs.”

    Don’t get me wrong. The innovations from Snapdragon are indisputable. The intent of Always Connected PCs is tremendous. Inevitable, actually.

    That said, Win 10 S (which apparently ships on the new Always on PCs) still leaves me cold. The promised ability to upgrade Win10 S to “real” Windows is a compelling feature — if the emulated “real” version of Win10 works, without bringing the PC to its knees, or completely clobbering battery life.

    Time will tell.

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    Home Forums ‘Always Connected PC’ – Windows 10 on ARM – talking points

    This topic contains 28 replies, has 11 voices, and was last updated by  johnf 8 months ago.

    • Author
    • #150013 Reply

      Da Boss

      The big Qualcomm presentation in Hawaii is over and there’s likely to be a zillion opinion pieces appearing in the next few hours. Coverage at the key
      [See the full post at: ‘Always Connected PC’ – Windows 10 on ARM – talking points]

    • #150033 Reply


      The usual one year OEM warranty on these puppies?

      Having everything running 24/7/365 equals component stress.
      Bet they last 2-3 years max.

      I see no reason for a forever on system. Costly and possibly dangerous.

      • #150334 Reply


        I can see a reason, from Microsoft’s perspective. Just like with a mobile phone, this will give the vendor (Microsoft) invaluable marketable data on their users. They’ll know 24/7 where you are, what you’re doing, what websites you’re visiting, etc. That is telemetry that is big bucks to marketers.

        From a user’s perspective, I agree, absolutely no reason.

    • #150049 Reply


      I just do not see the strong need for ARM based PCs in the desktop space. The battery life in laptops could be a factor but for the most part I feel this is another attempt to get W10 on to smartphones and tablets where MS is a nonstarter. I think the X86 emulation will introduce a performance deficit on these devices and for the vast majority of users, W10 will not be something they need or want. We will see how this works out but MS better start getting its act together as PC OEMs increasingly are willing to sell you a box with a Linux distro installed.

    • #150066 Reply


      “Always connected,” for anyone doing anything creative, is way overrated.  It doesn’t hurt to have a second machine connected to the web to get quick answers to questions, but that isn’t what the “always connected” crowd wants, is it?  They want us all to be lashed to the crowd.

      Other people’s opinions are worth considering, but not as a substitute for making up my own mind.


      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #150091 Reply

      lurks about
      AskWoody Lounger

      I am trying to see the point of ‘Always connected’ in the sense the hype means. It has struck me to mean that one is doing their bidding not doing something you want when you want on or offline.

    • #150106 Reply


      So… Microsoft and friends probably beat Apple by creating a two thousand dollar, extra large mobile phone with a keyboard?

      As for Windows 10 Something… I wonder if the Paid Wi-Fi Services setting will stay disabled when set to Off even after updates, it doesn’t seem like a great idea to be connecting to random open wireless networks.

    • #150108 Reply


      Are Chromebooks ‘Always Connected PC’ ?

      • #150118 Reply

        AskWoody MVP

        You stole my thunder! I was going to say that this is Microsoft’s attempt to give an answer to Chromebooks, which have to be connected in order to be fully operational.

        The problem is, that goes totally contrary to the model Microsoft followed (and created) to get where they are today, that is, having the software locally installed and fully operational offline. It looks like they are in the process of abandoning that model to try to head off Google.

        If Microsoft abandons their old model, I predict that Google will totally eat their lunch.

        Group "L" (Linux Mint)
        with Windows 8.1 running in a VM
        3 users thanked author for this post.
        • #150332 Reply


          Heh, Google already took Microsoft’s lunch from the Corporate refrigerator.

          • #150342 Reply

            AskWoody MVP

            Microsoft is still dominant on the corporate desktop. I predict that they will stay dominant in large corporations. But in small businesses, it remains to be seen.

            Group "L" (Linux Mint)
            with Windows 8.1 running in a VM
            1 user thanked author for this post.
            • #150689 Reply


              Yeah probably just like IBM, the only customer visible physical equipment I’ve seen were point of sale terminals/cash registers connected to other third party card readers.

    • #150141 Reply


      Bear in mind that ARM chips were purposely designed to be very small, power-sipping (auto-throttling) and slow (= low frequency), to be used in mobile devices that have to be fanless, very thin, lightweight, small-screened, battery-powered and wirelessly connected to the Internet. Mobile iOS and Android OS were developed for ARM chips, not Win 10.
      … Intel and AMD chips and desktops/laptops are not such limited.

      Like smartphones, the Always-Connected or Connected-Standby feature also likely means that such ARM-based Win 10 devices have Secure Boot permanently enabled and no option for Legacy BIOS install mode = it will not be easy trying to install Linux/Android or even Win 8.1 on them.

      Starting price is a high US$599. Some say that this high price is justified because of the LTE/4G/5G connection and 20-hour battery life. Normal laptops can also LTE-connect by using a USB modem and have good battery life by manually throttling power consumption. …

      Power-users should avoid these “crippled” ARM-based 2-in-1 touchscreen tablets.

    • #150164 Reply


      The idea behind is to hook up folks on mobile connections… since the credit card and all personal data is built-in…

    • #150282 Reply

      AskWoody Lounger

      Some people might find these novel features useful, perhaps. For my part, I have a new Mac with a 1GB solid state disk, and it starts in seconds, even counting the time I take to log in, then it is ready to do work. It has, and I have verified this, a battery charge that lasts 9 hours. It also has a very small and light charger that is no pain to carry around if one goes somewhere away from home for a few days. Using it at night or whenever there is no need of the machine is OK too, because the recharge is wickedly fast. I suspect that only a seriously harried (or neurotic) person will find these features too slow or inconvenient.

      I am not writing this to do free-advertising for Macs, but merely to indicate that a PC laptop with an SSD and a modern battery  is not terribly different from the MS “always on” type discussed here — assuming that the real MS trick is not using SSD, in the first place.

      As to being “always connected”, so one can have everything “on the Cloud” and always ready to go: that goes only as far as the local availability of signal. On zero-bar moments, e.g. while in some remote area without coverage, or during a service outage, or after a devastating natural catastrophe, the “always connected” PC might be less of a resource and more of a liability.

      Not to mention the occasional glitch in the “Cloud” service itself: service outages, accidental data erasures, cybercriminals gobbling up personal identifiable information in massive amounts and other wonders of the modern connected world.


      3 users thanked author for this post.
      • #150339 Reply


        I think one of Microsoft’s tricks would have to be using their fast start up system (from hibernation) & and any available faster SSD to compete with the Apple’s & Chrome OS laptop.

        • #150640 Reply

          AskWoody MVP

          From my own testing and repeated multiple times, I often found disabling hibernation altogether and fast startup as a side-effect resulted in faster booting of fast computers.

          Without going into full hibernation, the normal sleep can be pretty slow to drain battery.

          • #150692 Reply


            Hmm curious indeed…

            Without going into full hibernation, the normal sleep can be pretty slow to drain battery.

            Yes, I’ve noticed that function works very well since Windows 10 (ahem) “charmingly” disregards my of both advanced power plan hibernation settings. I am appreciative of the research and very complex circuit engineering that has gone into creating the sleep mode features.

    • #150365 Reply

      AskWoody Lounger

      That is virtually guaranteed. Microsoft’s war against Google is insane and will lead Microsoft to ruin.

    • #150773 Reply


      It’s natural that a marketing department would want to sell any little thing as the most important and awesome thing ever, but in reality, this is just another in a long line of products that are intended to provide long battery life at the expense of performance.

      I looked around for a head to head comparison of similar Chromebooks (since they come in ARM and x86 flavors) with each type of CPU, and I found a Computer Shopper comparison of battery life during a web-browsing simulation between the Acer Chromebook R11 (1,366×768 IPS touchscreen, 11.6 inch, Intel Celeron N3150) and the Asus C101PA (1280×800 IPS touchscreen, 10.1 inch, Rockchip RK3399).  Both Chromebooks feature 38 watt-hour batteries, and the CPUs were as close a match as I could find between ARM and x86s on Geekbench (trying to split the differences between single core performance and multicore performance).

      The Asus with the ARM outperformed the Acer with x86 in the web benchmarks Computer Shopper used, but this is an amalgamation of a lot of different factors beyond CPU performance.  It’s hard to say how much of the observed performance is a function of CPU power and how much is a function of other factors.  So is the battery benchmark, but since the goal is to test the overall battery life of ARM and x86 laptops, it’s still useful.

      The result of the video battery rundown test was that the Acer with the x86 lasted 10 hours, 35 minutes, while the Asus with the ARM lasted 9 hours, 22 minutes (despite having a smaller screen with lower resolution, which is supposed to mean it uses less power).

      One example is hardly enough to form any hard and fast opinions, but it does suggest that the ARM platform itself does not offer a gonzo battery life boost compared to a similarly powerful x86 setup (at least in terms of CPU benchmarks).  The ARM Chromebook did perform better on web benchmarks, but it also had a smaller display and had over an hour less battery life.

      If there is any applicability of that comparison to the question of Qualcomm ARM CPUs in Windows machines, it would seem to be that there’s no magic ARM bullet to slay battery consumption.  Given that the Qualcomm will have significant emulation overhead, it will effectively be competing with Intel chips less powerful than itself in terms of actual performance.  It seems unlikely that this will result in a huge leap in battery run times with existing battery capacities, and if the 20+ hour run times they’re shooting for are realistic (meaning that they represent 20 hours of being used, not just 20 hours of sitting there idling, which isn’t very impressive), they’re probably the result of installing bigger batteries as much as anything else.

      It seems to me that the only way this really makes sense is if the user is planning to switch to all ARM-compatible UWP apps someday soon, with the x86 emulation merely being a stopgap to make the device useful until a full migration away from x86 is possible.  That seems to be where MS is headed with this, as they do seem to be all-in on UWP even though its main intended beneficiary, Windows Phone, is essentially gone now.

      I personally would be interested in a PC that can go very long (20+ hours) on a charge.  While I like my old trusty laptop, it does have terrible battery life, and is best thought of as a more modern version of the Compaq “luggable” PC that can be transported from place to place, but has to be plugged in to be anything more useful than a boat anchor or an excessively large and heavy doorstop.

      That said, this setup doesn’t appeal to me.  The native ARM mode is not of interest, as I have no intention of using any UWP apps (ever).  The emulation that allows these devices to run x86 software is part of Windows 10, and I don’t intend to ever use that either.  It might be an interesting thing for Linux (which has an ARM version, of course), but my Linux knowledge is far short of what I would want it to be before trying something like that.

      1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #150774 Reply

        AskWoody MVP

        (erm, I did it again…)

        Group L (Linux): KDE Neon User Edition 5.14.1 (based on Ubuntu 18.04) + Windows 7 in Virtualbox VM

        • #150793 Reply

          AskWoody MVP

          (erm, I did it again…)

          1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #150789 Reply


      good article anonymous. thanks. be aware that good battery life – 7hrs or longer lasts only about 1 year…

      • #150945 Reply

        AskWoody MVP

        Indeed, batteries are consumable items.  The current trend of non-replaceable batteries is a great way to limit the useful life of hardware for purposes of planned obsolescence.  Even on thin and light laptops that don’t have a swappable battery, it is still possible to have a replaceable battery if the notebook vendor wants it to.  It doesn’t have to be attached to the case with hyper-strong glue, and the whole thing doesn’t have to be glued (or spot welded, in the case of the MS Surface laptop) together.

        I like traditional laptops that have real touchpad buttons, removable batteries, non-soldered RAM and CPU, easily replaceable hard drives (or SSDs), all that kind of thing.  There are some of those still around, but the clickpad (without dedicated buttons), non-removable battery/RAM/CPU variety sees to be the norm now.  I’d tolerate a little more thickness and weight to be able to swap them out without major surgery (or risk of breakage).

        That, btw, is one reason I am not considering the Mac platform even now that Windows is getting so bad.  There are so many laptops available in the x86 PC platform!  Many of them are following the glued-together, soldered-everything, buttonless clickpad, non-replaceable battery trend, but not all of them.  With Apple, the choices are limited to what they want to offer… you’re stuck with whatever they think fits in with their design aesthetic and has the requisite degree of coolness, and if that doesn’t fit you… well, too bad.

        It’s even more pronounced with desktops, since I can build my own, one component at a time, which is about as far from Apple as you can get.

        Group L (Linux): KDE Neon User Edition 5.14.1 (based on Ubuntu 18.04) + Windows 7 in Virtualbox VM

        1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #150798 Reply

      AskWoody Lounger

      My take having used ARM based Chromebooks is that you sacrifice performance for battery life. If that’s your goal, I am sure these Windows based ARM notebooks will have the same purpose. For me its not of much interest and would prefer performance over a bit more battery life. My only surprise was the prices for these notebooks, I figured they would compete more in the lower priced netbook category?

    • #150791 Reply


      The evolution of M$’s Connected Standby or InstantGo feature requirements that abolished Legacy BIOS install mode, began in 2012 with M$’s ARM-based Windows RT devices …
      _ _ _ _ _ _ _

      Today, for Win 10, it is called Modern Standby …
      _ _ _ _ _ _ _

      The Connected Standby or Always-On feature in smartphones and tablets means that the devices can never be fully shutdown = users cannot normally clean reinstall the mobile OS.
      … Tech-geeks created a workaround for Android devices by Flashing a Custom ROM.

      Remember, in the beginning, Connected Standby or Always-On was a “special” feature of smartphones and tablets since the inception of iOS, Android and Windows-PhoneOS during the mid-2000s. This was likely for the main purpose of preventing most users from being able to reinstall the OS = eg had to buy new phablets after a virus infection or borked update/upgrade = more profits for the OS owners and OEMs = Planned Obsolescence.

      Seems, M$ are trying to copy this business model of phablets by trying to change laptops and/or desktops into mobile phablets, starting with Win 8, Win 10 and Windows on ARM.
      … Some of M$’s Win 8.1/10 Surface devices already have Connected Standby, ie have removed Legacy BIOS install mode.

      Previously, in M$’s ARM-based Surface Win RT devices, Secure Boot was also permanently enabled. Will the Win 10 on ARM devices be the same.?

      1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #150803 Reply


        … continue ….

        According to this link … https://www.eightforums.com/drivers-hardware/44333-surface-rt-clean-install-windows-8-1-update-1-a-2.html?s=7ef0524453119e5f241b07eefee7a5be, users could not do a clean reinstall of Win RT on M$’s ARM-based Surface RT or Surface 2 devices. IOW, Win RT for M$’s ARM-based Surface devices only came preinstalled by M$. Of course, x-86-based Win 8.x, Win 10 and Linux could not be clean installed also.
        … Users could only do a Factory Reset or Refresh from within Win RT or do a Factory System Image Recovery via a Recovery USB-stick which was used to copy the Recovery Partition.

        It’s likely that the same will apply to ARM-based Win 10 devices, ie cannot do a clean install = just like for mobile smartphones and tablets.

    • #168653 Reply


      https://www.thurrott.com/windows/windows-10/152501/microsoft-finally-documents-limitations-windows-10-arm (17 Feb 2018)
      http://www.zdnet.com/article/windows-10-on-arm-it-will-be-more-limited-and-heres-how-reveals-microsoft/ (19 Feb 2018)
      Eg 64-bit apps will not work,
      Certain classes of apps will not run,
      It cannot use x86 drivers,
      No Hyper-V,
      Older games and graphics apps may not work.

      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #168660 Reply

      AskWoody Lounger

      I’ll bet they make great E-Readers, though! /sarcasm off

      Honestly, this reminds me of the old Barnes and Noble First Edition Nook with free 3G. That actually was a pretty good e-reader, you could play music on it, limited web access, and access to the B&N shop for getting E-Books. Oh, and they had a “Walled Garden” of apps (until XDA rooted it…)

    Please follow the -Lounge Rules- no personal attacks, no swearing, and politics/religion are relegated to the Rants forum.

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