Microsoft, Qualcomm reportedly have Windows on ARM exclusivity deal — it’s ending soon

The deal reportedly is one of the main obstacles keeping other manufacturers from launching chips for Windows on ARM

If you’ve paid much attention to the Windows on ARM space, you may have noticed that it’s a rather limited space at the moment. Only a few Windows on ARM devices are available, and all of them run Qualcomm chips (for better and worse). Apparently, there’s a reason for that: Qualcomm and Microsoft have an exclusivity deal.

As reported by XDA Developers, people “familiar” with the matter claim the deal between Microsoft and Qualcomm is set to end soon. It’s not clear how long the deal’s been in place or when, exactly, it will end. But if the report is accurate, it could mean we’ll see a lot more ARM chips for Windows devices soon.

For example, Samsung could want to get into Windows on ARM. The company already makes Windows laptops and recently partnered with AMD on graphics for Exynos chips. A logicial next step could be bringing Exynos to its laptop line. Similarly, MediaTek announced last week that it plans to start building a chipset for Windows on ARM.

That could also clear the way for running ARM-based Windows on Apple’s M-series chips. Previously, Apple’s vice president of software engineering, Craig Federighi, said it was up to Microsoft to get Windows on ARM onto the new Mac computers. Specifically, Federighi said it was a licensing issue, with Microsoft only licensing Windows on ARM to manufacturers to pre-install on devices, not to consumers. That said, Apple also didn’t support Boot Camp — its software to allow users to boot Windows on their Mac devices — on M-series chips, leaving Parallels and other virtualization tech as one of the few ways to get Windows onto Apple Silicon Macs.

The most important takeaway from the Qualcomm report is that it could finally open up Windows on ARM to some sorely-needed competition and innovation. Windows on ARM has a lot of problems, but if there were more ARM chips for Windows devices, and more Windows on ARM devices in general, it could help spur developers to improve the Windows ARM experience faster. It could also push manufacturers to create better chips to get an edge over the competition.

To be fair, Windows on ARM has come a long way, but in most cases, it still feels underpowered compared to Windows on x86 chips from Intel or AMD.

Image credit: Qualcomm 

Source: XDA Developers