Microsoft is doubling down on notebooks this year. Not only is the company using its Surface Laptop to spar with Apple in the high-end consumer space, it's also partnering with Qualcomm to help launch Windows 10 notebooks powered by the Snapdragon 835 "Mobile PC Platform." These thin, fanless, and purportedly efficient devices will run the familiar Windows 10 OS and the basic applications that most users need, presumably at a low price. Asus, HP and Lenovo all have their own Snapdragon-powered designs in the works, and should make their own announcements later in the year.
Microsoft thinks there are many consumers who want the easy connectivity and portability of today's mobile devices along with the functionality of a PC, but deterred by the limitations of many notebooks. Traditional PCs are often limited to WiFi, they can run hot, and battery life isn't always great. Microsoft says partnering with Qualcomm let it address many of these concerns. The Snapdragon 835 SoC's integrated X16 LTE modem will let users take advantage of gigabit internet speeds—at least, wherever wireless companies make such speeds available. The notebooks will run efficiently enough to allow thin, fanless designs, and we're told to expect substantial battery life and lengthy standby times.
As for the performance of these devices, it's probably best to temper expectations. Qualcomm's demo unit at Computex has a prototype connected to a large display, wireless mouse, and wireless keyboard, and is letting attendees use it to do basic tasks in the Microsoft Office suite. Judging from the promotional video, the notebooks will handle light entertainment duties, as well. Thanks to Microsoft's efforts to make x86 apps run on ARM CPUs with minimal performance degradation, these machines might boast broad enough application compatibility to avoid the pitfalls of Windows RT and its Windows Store-only app pool. According to a Qualcomm conference call from earlier this year, these notebooks should hit the market in time for the year-end holidays.