Qualcomm Snapdragon 7cSource: Qualcomm

What you need to know

  • Microsoft and Qualcomm have an exclusivity agreement regarding Windows on ARM, according to a recent report.
  • Up to this point, only Qualcomm chips have been inside Windows on ARM devices.
  • The exclusivity deal is reportedly set to end soon, allowing other companies to create chips for Windows on ARM PCs.

Windows 10 on ARM and Windows 11 on ARM devices could soon be powered by chips from companies other than Qualcomm. According to a report by XDA, Microsoft and Qualcomm have an exclusivity agreement regarding Windows on ARM PCs. This agreement is reportedly set to expire soon, clearing the way for ARM PCs powered by CPUs from companies such as MediaTek.

Up to this point, every Windows on ARM device has run on a Qualcomm chip, including the Surface Pro X, Lenovo Flex 5G, and Samsung Galaxy Book Go. It appears likely that Qualcomm will soon have competition in the space.

MediaTek's, vice president of corporate sales and business development, Eric Fisher, discussed Windows on ARM PCs at the company's executive summit last week. "The Wintel partnership that's gone on for so long has to be under some pressure, and when there's pressure, there's opportunity for companies like ours," said Fisher (via XDA).

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MediaTek isn't the only company that may want to make chips for Windows on ARM PCs. Reports from earlier this year indicate that Samsung is working on a laptop with its own chip. The CPU is said to have been jointly developed with AMD.

Windows on ARM has been around since 2016. Since its initial launch, Microsoft has invested heavily into getting Windows to run well on ARM. Innovations such as ARM64EC and x64 emulation greatly increase the capabilities of Windows PCs powered by ARM processors. If MediaTek and other manufacturers start competing in the hardware space, it could help push the platform.

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