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Windows and Laptops

on January 4, 2018 No comments


Desktops and laptops are getting more compact and lighter each year. Although they may not appear at first glance to look significantly different  than before, internals and the software have adapted to catch up with smart phones.  Computing power is increasing, battery power is getting better  operating systems are being slimmed down and built to better integrate into the tablet and smart phone world. We have all known for years the pros and cons of AMA Vs  Intel Chips, many of us preferring Intel. But there is whole other type of processing chip, known as ARM. Up until now, because of software and processing issues, it wasn’t a great option for laptops and such. But it seems that has changed, and it makes for some exciting changes coming down the pike.

Tech Crunch goes into the nuts and bolts of this issue:

” …Fast-forward to today and Microsoft is ready to give ARM on laptops another try. But this time, you will be able to run any program you wish. Windows 10 for ARM is officially launching today, and while Microsoft itself isn’t launching an ARM-based Surface device just yet, the company has partnered with the likes of HP to launch a new class of laptops that Microsoft officially brands as Always Connected Devices.”

“..As Erin Chapple, Microsoft’s GM of Windows told me, the company recompiled the Windows 10 operating system for ARM. There is no emulation at the operating system level. The team spent quite a bit of time trying to decide where to set the boundary between the operating system and the emulated layer, though. In the end, Microsoft decided to natively compile all of the DLLs (that is, most of the Windows libraries) and set the emulation layer above that.

For everything that sits above this and needs to be emulated, Windows 10 on ARM uses a dynamic binary translator to translate X86 code into ARM64 code on-the-fly.

Because of these design choices, most applications should run with almost native-like performance, because most standard Windows apps tend to call the operating system APIs (including those for graphics) directly — and all of those libraries have been recompiled, after all. Any time you are dealing with an app that’s heavily CPU-bound, you’ll see a performance hit.

The promise of using ARM-based chips (and we’re mostly talking Qualcomm Snapdragon processors here), is that you’ll get the kind of user experience that you’ve become accustomed to from your smartphones. That means these devices will turn on almost immediately, feature wireless LTE connectivity and — maybe most importantly — offer the kind of battery life that’ll let you get through a day or two (and, in the future, maybe a week) of work without having to recharge.”

What does this mean for you and me? It means we get the computing power of a laptop, or a super powered tablet and the convience of a smart phone.  Instant start, longer battery life, more computing power and from what it looks like, a much more flexible device. No longer will be as constrained by the need for connected power. Okay, perhaps that is taking things a bit too far, but at the very least we will be able to work all through that 8 hour plane ride we have to take for our next big presentation.

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