Qualcomm Snapdragon X Elite hint: Windows 12 may come out in mid 2024
Apple's success story with its own ARM chips was made possible due to Apple's tight control of its own ecosystem: The hardware and software are optimized for each other. When Apple launched the Apple M1 that replaced the Intel CPUs in MacBooks, the macOS was ready for the switch.
It is easy to see why Microsoft had a much harder time translating over desktop Windows to ARM. The first attempt, Windows RT during the Windows 8 era, tried to cut all compatibility with legacy applications - this did not work, and neither did Microsofts CPU strategy of opening up the platform to different vendors. The course correction came with Windows 10, as Microsoft introduced a emulation for legacy x86 applications as well as a exclusive partnership with Qualcomm to be the sole provider of ARM CPUs for Windows devices.
Still, the platform stayed in a niche - the early Qualcomm CPUs were lacking severely in performance, and merely including the emulation layer did not mean that Windows 10 was truly optimized for the ARM architecture. It took until Windows 11 for Microsoft to include x64 application emulation, but still: The Qualcomm chips could not quite yet compete, even if the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 in the ThinkPad X13s (available from Amazon) was a good try.
With the release of the Qualcomm Snapdragon X Elite, it seems like the hardware site of things is finally ready. But what about the software?
There are many rumors about a new version of Windows that will come out next year - which may be called Windows 12 or something different - a version of Windows that will put the focus on AI. And possibly, ARM.
Deep within the Qualcomm presentation files for the new Qualcomm Snapdragon X Elite, the fine print relays information about the systems used by Qualcomm for testing. Notably, the competing Intel systems for the performance comparison charts are explicitly tested with "Windows 11". But this is not the case for the Qualcomm reference system with the ARM CPU - here, Qualcomm states that it runs "Windows OS", not Windows 11.
If you take this into consideration, the stated launch time window for the Snapdragon X Elite of "mid 2024" gives us a very strong hint of when to expect the next version of Microsoft Windows, as the Snapdragon X Elite will probably launch side by side with the new OS if Qualcomm is already using it for benchmarking.