Windows 10 Mobile on ARM

In my day job I have and still do work with Microsoft Operating Systems. It’s been a love / hate relationship over the years but now, when I get home, I don’t want anything more to do with it. Turning on a laptop, getting the endless updates and those nags to upgrade things, then sitting and waiting for it to reboot, check and perhaps advise you about firewalls and anti-virus software … I’d had enough.

One day, after using a Windows laptop to write and create this site for over a decade, my Sony Vaio died. To be fair, I’d killed it. It had travelled around with me and had seen better days. I was still getting email via Outlook and a POP3 account, which didn’t help as the hard drive was constantly being ripped to bits and I was getting more and more email filling up the drive.

A “temporary” solution, so I thought, was to get a £100 Chromebook off eBay. I don’t have a great deal of locally-installed apps, so took the jump from Windows and Outlook to Chromebook and Google Apps, which is now known as “G Suite”.

This “temporary fix” has now been my daily driver for nearly two years. I open the Chromebook, log into the site, get work done, then close it. If an update needs to install, I’ll choose the time, it’ll happen in seconds, reboot and then I’m done.

Anti-virus software isn’t a worry and I’m using cloud storage for everything. Plus, this is an OS that can run on an ARM processor.

Now, if you head back to four years ago, Microsoft had an OS which ran on an ARM processor too. It was confusing as hell. Dubbed “Windows RT” it was Windows, but not-quite-Windows and tried to push people into touch apps. That alone was a good idea, but it looked a lot like the “normal” Windows and people assumed it would do everything that Windows could do. Sadly no. Windows RT didn’t run those traditional desktop apps, even though there was a desktop mode stacked full of familiar Windows utilities.

Let’s not dress this up. It failed. Big time.

Now though, Windows is back on ARM. Windows 10 will soon emulate those traditional apps, meaning that you can hopefully get a cheaper ARM-powered device running all the familiar Windows stuff. Qualcomm will be kicking things off, with the Snapdragon 835 heading to Windows 10 laptops. ARM on Windows 10 will ensure that you will have that familiar look and feel, and there’ll be no confusion. Apps will just.. work.. but battery life will be far better.

But wait, there’s another advantage, and in essence it’s killed the “Windows Phone” we always knew. It could also completely change the way that phones are viewed. Sure, right now you can do a lot of things on your phone. You can do your banking and you can post blog updates like I’m doing now. Not only that, but if you’ve set it up, you can make a Remote Desktop connection to a “standard” PC and run desktop apps over a WiFi or other data connection. However, where the future Windows 10 phones could shine is by running full desktop apps. No “bridge” or data connection needed, they’d run on your phone just as they would on a PC.

So, why call it “Windows 10 Mobile” at all? Surely it’ll now just be Windows 10, just formatted for a smaller screen. Provided that they can get the data entry and screen resizing sorted, it could be one very powerful product. Plus, even if the traditional “Microsoft Phone” doesn’t return, the ARM processors and lower price-points could attract those of us who’ve moved to Chromebooks recently, and give Microsoft a much-needed boost,