Microsoft shows off Windows PCs that run on Qualcomm chips

Intel’s stumbles in the mobile arena grew to become Qualcomm’s gains with its Snapdragon platform, but now it appears that Qualcomm intends to upend their dominance in entry-level PCs as well. Today, Microsoft and Qualcomm announced that Windows would begin running on systems powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon mobile chipsets.

This isn’t entirely earth-shattering given that these are mobile chipsets running on what are still just laptop convertible 2-in-1s or tablets, but the fact that Windows 10 — albeit a more lightweight “Windows 10 S” — can run on Qualcomm 835 chips should still worry Intel quite a bit.

These devices have the brains of smartphones with the battery capacities of laptops. Qualcomm obviously won’t be competing with Intel on the performance of its higher-end chips, but one thing the company highlighted today was just how long its power-saving technologies will extend the battery life of your device.

They referred to this tech as “beyond all-day battery life,” which, as the name implies, suggests that the power efficiency of these PCs will push battery life into a second day of full usage, something that isn’t too likely to be had on most laptops that are powering a full work day. Furthermore, these PCs are optimized to be always on and always LTE-connected.

Asus and HP both announced “Windows on Qualcomm” devices, including the Asus NovaGo and HP ENVY x2. Qualcomm highlighted a 20-hour battery life on the HP ENVY x2.

The main catch is that performance will suffer on apps that aren’t UWP apps, so programs like Google Chrome or Firefox will be emulated on the machines, definitely reducing performance.

Qualcomm is making the bet that keeping PC performance at well-enough while making solid improvements in battery life will be enough to convince OEMs that are already building their smartphones on Snapdragon SoCs to make the switch to Qualcomm for their entry-level ultraportables. The idea of a computer that lasts 18-24 hours per day, as Qualcomm promises, is obviously attractive, especially given how much PC usage is often confined to web browsing, whether the battery life gains make up for the performance sacrifices will be the ultimate question.