The suspected deal may be ending soon, which could lead to Windows 11 being available on other chipsets.
This week saw the release of a report on XDA Developers claiming that an exclusivity deal with Qualcomm keeps Microsoft from making the ARM versions of Windows more generally available.
“Qualcomm actually has an exclusivity deal with Microsoft for Windows on ARM,” they write. “And speaking with people familiar with it, we’ve learned that the deal is set to expire soon.”
“Other than the fact that Microsoft has publicly said that anyone who wants to can build a Windows on ARM chip, this really shouldn’t come as a surprise,” they continue. “Qualcomm didn’t just start building PC chips hoping that Microsoft would compile Windows to support it. No, these two companies worked together to make it happen. Because of that, Qualcomm gets to enjoy a bit of exclusivity.”
The allegation of exclusivity comes a few weeks after Rick Tsai, CEO of ARM chipmaker MediaTek, said on a company earnings call that MediaTek “certainly intend[s]” to run Windows on its chips. Qualcomm, MediaTek, Rockchip, and others are all shipping ARM chips for Chromebooks. This is in addition to the chips they all provide for Android devices.
Will we soon see Windows 10 and Windows 11 running on Macs?
If Windows could run on other ARM chips, it could lead to a version of Windows on Apple Silicon Macs.
Windows 11 can easily succeed on ARM. It just needs hardware that is optimised for a desktop operating system. It can then do for Windows what the M1 chips have done for Macs. At this moment Intel is not the chip leader it once was, the competition can offer more performance at lower power usage and a lower price.
“It was a smart bet for Microsoft to build a version of Windows that could run on ARM chips without giving up the app compatibility that keeps so many people tethered to Windows in the first place,” they say.
“The end of this exclusivity deal with Qualcomm, assuming it exists, opens the door for more chipmakers to try to deliver that speed and efficiency.”