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Windows laptops in 2017 could act and feel more like a phone

Windows 10 devices will be compatible with Qualcomm's latest processor, the same chips that power high-end phones and tablets.

Microsoft wants its computers to be more nimble.

Qualcomm's latest processors will be available for Windows 10 devices.


To that goal, the Qualcomm announced at Microsoft's Windows Hardware Engineering Community event on Wednesday that its Windows 10 devices will support the Snapdragon 835 processor, which you'll see in many top-tier phones next year. The chip will be able to provide Gigabit LTE connectivity, nearly double your battery life and pack it all into even smaller devices.

Microsoft's move attempts to close the gap between phones, tablets and computers. By supporting Qualcomm's more power-efficient chip, future laptops could act much more like your phone: always turned on and connected online. You can also expect to see smaller designs that don't require fans, as well as more touchscreen laptops.

"We are excited to bring Windows 10 to the ARM ecosystem with Qualcomm Technologies," Terry Myserson, Microsoft's vice president of Windows and Devices group.

While Qualcomm's processor will be available for laptop makers to use in 2017, it's still unclear if Microsoft will choose it over Intel or AMD chips. After all, the last time Microsoft tried being mobile-friendly, it made Windows RT -- a mobile version of Windows 8 which failed to take off before it was put out of its misery in 2015.

Unlike Windows RT, which was also compatible with Qualcomm chips, the Snapdragon-enabled devices should work with a wider swath of existing Windows software, not just the subset of apps available from the Windows Store.

Qualcomm's chip is set to make its debut on high-end phones in the first half of 2017, as the first mobile processor to use a 10-nanometer manufacturing technique from Samsung.

You can expect to see Windows 10 PCs running on Qualcomm's next generation of chips starting the second half of 2017, the companies said.

Correction (December 8, 2016, 3:07 p.m. PT): This story originally stated that Windows RT devices couldn't run Microsoft Office. RT devices did, in fact, include a bundled version of Office that was specifically optimized for ARM chips.