Microsoft is confident that Windows on ARM could finally surpass Apple

Calvin D

Microsoft is gearing up to showcase its innovative concept of “AI PCs” in an upcoming event in Seattle next month. Comfortable with their progress, insiders close to Microsoft reveal the company's belief that its new lineup of Arm-powered Windows laptops will outperform Apple’s M3-powered MacBook Air in areas of CPU performance and AI-accelerated tasks.

Over the years, Microsoft has faced several setbacks from Qualcomm's unfulfilled promises. However, the new tide of optimism is fueled by the anticipated Snapdragon X Elite processors. These processors are expected to deliver the performance Microsoft desires, encouraging a more assertive push for Windows on Arm. In addition to being featured in various Windows laptops launching this year, these processors will also be included in Microsoft’s latest consumer-focused Surface hardware.

The confidence in Qualcomm's new chips is so high that Microsoft plans to demonstrate how these processors surpass the M3 MacBook Air in CPU tasks, AI acceleration, and app emulation. According to documents viewed by The Verge, Microsoft is positioning these new Windows AI PCs to offer “faster app emulation than Rosetta 2” - Apple's compatibility layer for its Silicon Macs.

App emulation historically posed challenges for Windows on Arm, but significant progress was made with the introduction of x64 app emulation in Windows 11 over two years ago. This advancement ensures apps can function on Windows on Arm devices even without a native ARM64 version. With the launch of an ARM64 version of Chrome by Google, there's a clear signal that the ecosystem for upcoming Windows on Arm laptops is strengthening.

Furthermore, insights reveal Microsoft's plans to equip both the Surface Pro 10 and Surface Laptop 6 for consumers with the Snapdragon X Elite processors, opting for Qualcomm over Intel’s Core Ultra chips. This move marks a clear direction towards embracing Arm models for the consumer market. These devices are internally dubbed “next-gen AI Copilot PCs” by Microsoft, positioning them to lead in a new frontier that combines cutting edge hardware with innovative AI-powered Windows features.