Microsoft’s attempt to achieve consistent Windows over ARM started with the Surface RT was a fiasco. Later came others, the most ambitious under an alliance with Qualcomm. They have all been failed. The refusal of chipmakers like MediaTek and NVIDIA to join the program left him lame from the start. As for OEMs, HP or ASUS launched some equipment (good equipment, equivalent to those launched with Intel / AMD), but without conviction of success. Others like Dell, directly declined to participate due to “lack of potential.” They were absolutely right.
If the lack of performance of Windows computers on ARM that have arrived until now could be solved in the future with better hardware, the big problem is the software. And it has persisted since its inception. Supporting the huge Windows ecosystem and especially the Win32 applications that the company would like to destroy, but which are used by millions of users, is a daunting task that Microsoft has not been able to solve.
As for the developers, they simply have not had any interest in this platformEspecially when the only rig for testing Windows apps on ARM is a $ 1,000 Surface Pro X. The ECS LIVA Mini Box QC710 Mini-PC promises, at least, to offer an economical machine.
Qualcomm and Microsoft worked together to build this mini PC, which was supposed to go on sale a few months ago, but is coming now. It features a Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 SoC, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of eMMC storage, and support for Wi-Fi 5 and Bluetooth 5.0. There is also a dedicated microSD slot, two USB-A ports (2.0 and 3.2), an HDMI connector, and a USB-C port for power.
Although the chipset is next-gen, the specs are not at all exciting these days for a consumer, but may be an attractive option (and very inexpensive) for developers who want to test their applications on real Snapdragon hardware. The manufacturer describes What “the perfect test bed for Windows application developers on ARM. An ultra-compact and ultra-efficient computer for a wide variety of home and business applications«.
This Mini-PC is available in the Microsoft Store for only 219 dollars and we’ll see if you can encourage more developers to work on the platform. The benefits of an architecture like ARM in terms of energy efficiency, connectivity or autonomy cannot be ignored. We have been seeing them for years on smartphones where they have killed a giant like Intel and on personal computers Apple is showing the way forward.
Microsoft has it more complicated. It doesn’t have Apple’s soft-hard control and the Windows ecosystem is huge and more diverse than Mac’s. Let’s hope Microsoft hasn’t given up on the preceding fiascoes and Windows over ARM can move forward.