If you had any fantasies of running a “regular” Windows 10 stack on your phone, Microsoft just dashed them. Not that it was a completely viable dream anyway, even with Windows 10 on ARM almost in full swing. Microsoft’s own Joe Belfiore confirms that phones, if there will ever be new ones, will be running Windows 10 Mobile and Windows 10 Mobile only. Which also implies that Windows 10 Mobile isn’t going anywhere, at least for now.
While it was never officially put on the table, the Windows 10 on ARM effort gave rise to speculation as well as wishes to have a more complete Windows 10 experience even on smartphones. Some pieces, like the leaked CShell unified interface and the Windows 10 S thrust, seemed to also support the possibility of a complete Windows 10 version that can simply change form. Pretty much like Continuum but with less restrictions, especially in the software that can be run in desktop mode. But while it might be possible in theory, it isn’t a road that Microsoft wants to take.
According to Belfiore, Windows 10 on ARM is about “enabling PC experiences on devices that are built on ARM”, which is a long-winded way of saying “tablets” and maybe some low-end laptops. The goal is to combine a full desktop experience with devices that are “connected all the time and have great battery life”, something that long-time partner Intel might not want to hear. Whether that means we get to finally see ARM-based Windows 10, not Windows 10 Mobile, devices in the near future still depends on one crucial factor: SoC support.
This is actually the factor that makes full Windows 10 on ARM on phones a no go for Microsoft. Unlike on PCs with x86/x64 architectures, targeting ARM devices requires targeting the wide array of chips that are not all identical. Forget about Qualcomm versus MediaTek, even Qualcomm’s Snapdragons are each a different target, making it more difficult for Microsoft to provide Windows 10 binaries for different devices. The company also cites this as the reason (read: excuse) why it takes so long for it to push out updaters to its existing smartphones. Of course, it’s not entirely impossible, since Android supports an even larger variety of smartphones. But Android is open source and have targeted ARM right from the start. Google lets SoC makers and OEMs do just as much work as them to integrate the software with the hardware.
So if you’re an existing owner of a Windows 10 Mobile phone, don’t count on getting a Christmas gift of a full Windows 10 update. If you were holding out for a Windows 10 phone, better stop holding your breath. If, on the other hand, you were waiting for new Windows 10 Mobile handsets, Belfiore seems to imply there might still be a future for it. But, as they say, actions, and actual retail products, speak louder than words.
VIA: Windows Central