Could and should Microsoft enable Windows 10 Mobile on Intel? | ZDNet

Right now, Windows 10 Mobile, Microsoft's version of Windows 10 for small-screen devices, runs only on ARM.

But that isn't stopping people from speculating if and when Windows 10 Mobile might run on Intel chips.

When Microsoft was developing the first version of Windows 10, the company's plan was to enable Windows 10 Mobile to run on ARM and Intel, my sources told me repeatedly. Whenever I wrote about Windows 10 in the build-up to RTM of the first version in July 2015, I described Windows 10 Mobile as "the version of Windows 10 that is expected to work on Windows Phones and smaller Windows tablets running ARM and most likely Intel processors."

But when Microsoft finally released Windows 10 to the masses, Windows 10 Mobile was an ARM-only operating system. And since that time, this has continued to be the case.

While some company watchers said they believed Microsoft's long-rumored Surface Phone might be an Intel-based device, I never heard that from my contacts. Whenever I heard from my contacts about a Surface Phone, the device always was described as ARM-based, which makes sense to me, as ARM continues to be a better in terms of power efficiency. Traditional Win32 apps can't run on ARM-based devices, but Remote Desktop software/services does provide a solution (though a complex and often pricey one)

I went back and looked at notes from a conversation I had with Windows and Devices chief Terry Myerson just prior to the August 2 release this year of Windows 10 'Redstone 1." I asked him at that time when and if we'd see Windows 10 Mobile on ARM. (I didn't run his response before today, as it didn't seem material to my post about the Windows 10 Anniversary Update.)

But here's what Myerson told me when I asked about Windows 10 Mobile ever running on Intel: "Today, Windows Mobile is for 7 or 8 inch devices running the ARM chipset. Over time, you will see our goal is to give partners access to all screen sizes and chip sets of choice."

I have no idea how much time "over time" implies. I also have no idea whether the Intel-based, Windows 10 "Dell Stack" tablet and phone devices described by Evan Blass in a recent VentureBeat post will ever materialize.

(Blass said Dell and Intel were working together on the concepts since 2014, which means they may have withered when Microsoft's initial plans to have Windows 10 Mobile run on Intel didn't materialize right out of the gate. Or maybe the tablet shown in the renders Blass posted was/is just going to run plain-old Windows 10 and not Windows 10 Mobile.)

Going back to Windows 10 Mobile, Myerson's comments do leave the door open, at least hypothetically, for Windows 10 Mobile to run one day on Intel. For now, however, Microsoft engineers seem intent on honing Windows 10 Mobile as Microsoft's Windows on ARM and cellular play, as Myerson told me a couple of weeks ago.