Microsoft shows first Windows 10 PCs on Qualcomm and ARM

Microsoft has long been known as an Intel and AMD shop.

But on Tuesday, the company is taking the rare step of unveiling a laptop that’s powered by another chip giant: Qualcomm.

By selling Windows 10 PCs with Qualcomm processors, which dominate the smartphone market, Microsoft is aiming to reach a mobile audience that’s been much more inclined to buy Apple and Android devices.

At an event in Hawaii, Microsoft showed new laptops from Asus and HP with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 chips that use ARM’s architecture. The PCs have a modem for LTE connectivity, so they don’t have to exclusively rely on WiFi networks.

Terry Myerson, executive vice president of Microsoft’s Windows and devices group, told CNBC that he uses his Asus NovaGo “always connected” convertible laptop for a week at a time on a single charge. That’s very unusual at a time when most laptop and tablet batteries won’t last longer than a day.

“In my day at the office, I walk around with one of these PCs and a phone,” Myerson said, adding that he doesn’t bring the laptop’s charging cable along with him. He said that it’s similar to his Fitbit wearable device, which he charges every four or five days.

While it’s an experimental endeavor for Microsoft, over time this class of devices could present a challenge to AMD and Intel, whose processors have historically been the standard for Windows PCs. More than half of Intel’s revenue comes from its client computing group, which includes PC and tablet chips.

For Qualcomm, teaming up with Microsoft represents another potential revenue opportunity, one that takes advantage of the research and development it’s done for mobile devices, Cristiano Amon, an executive vice president, told CNBC.

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