Microsoft is giving Always Connected PCs a performance boost and more apps

hp envy x2 review front center
Matt Smith/Digital Trends

Microsoft announced a new software development kit at Build that allows developers to add native 64-bit app support for on Always Connected PCs, like the HP Envy x2 and the Asus NovaGo. The SDK was announced as a preview alongside Visual Studio 15.8 Preview 1. With the SDK, Qualcomm said that developers will not only be able to create 64-bit apps, but that these apps will also run natively on Windows on ARM systems, giving these devices a boost in performance and could bring more apps to the platform.

As part of its Windows on ARM initiative, Microsoft partnered with Qualcomm to bring Windows 10 to devices powered by the Snapdragon processor. The platform was unveiled as Always Connected PCs based on the lower battery consumption and always-on 4G LTE connectivity as key benefits, but the major drawback is that not all apps may be compatible with ARM processors.

In the past, Always Connected PCs were limited to just 32-bit apps, which required an emulator to operate. By supporting 64-bit apps and allowing them to run natively on a system, users of Always Connected PCs may experience faster performance, remedying a complaint we had when we reviewed the platform. In our reviews of devices from HP and Asus, we found that although Windows felt snappy, apps didn’t launch as quickly and Windows animations weren’t as smooth as on competing devices powered by Intel’s processors. With native 64-bit support, hopefully this will change.

“By porting to ARM, you can optimize the user experience and battery life of your applications running natively on the Qualcomm Snapdragon Mobile PC platform,” Qualcomm wrote on its developer portal. Qualcomm claims that Snapdragon-powered Windows 10 devices can benefit from up to 20 hours of battery life.

Even though developers will now be able to create 64-bit apps for Windows on ARM devices, it will still be a while before consumers see these apps. Existing 64-bit apps in the Windows Store won’t automatically work on Snapdragon devices, and developers will need to update their programs with code to add 64-bit ARM compatibility. If Microsoft and Qualcomm can convince developers to update existing apps and create new apps with ARM support, a more robust catalog of apps could help adoption of Always Connected PCs.

Computing

With no plans for merging operating systems, Apple opts to combine apps instead

Apple is working on combining all of the the apps it offers to iPhone, iPad, and Mac users by 2021. App developers will soon be able to build and submit one version of their apps to be used by Apple product users.
Smart Home

Qualcomm goes all-in on Amazon Alexa voice control with a new development kit

Qualcomm is releasing an early valentine for smart home device manufacturers. The new development kit for its Wi-Fi networks integrates the Amazon Alexa Voice Service to enable voice control in more devices.
Computing

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X55 could bring blazing-fast 5G to laptops

While the Snapdragon X55 promises to bring fast data connectivity to the next generation of 5G smartphones, the modem also holds potential in transforming the way Always Connected PCs are used.
Gaming

Here's our take on the best game-streaming services currently out there

You can still get your physical video game discs or cartridges at your local store or download games digitally, but another option is even more convenient: Game streaming. Here are the best game streaming services.
Computing

Intel expects Apple to transition Macs to ARM processors in 2020, report says

It has been rumored for some time that Apple could transition away from Intel to ARM processors, but a new report now claims that Intel is aware of the decision and that it could happen in 2020.
Computing

Still miss Windows 7? Here's how to make Windows 10 look more like it

There's no simple way of switching on a Windows 7 mode in Windows 10. Instead, you can install third-party software, manually tweak settings, and edit the registry. We provide instructions for using these tweaks and tools.
Computing

The rumors were true. Nvidia’s 1660 Ti GPU, a $280 powerhouse, has arrived

Nvidia has officially launched the GTX 1660 Ti, its next-generation, Turing-based GPU. It promises to deliver all the performance and efficiency for all modern games, but without stepping into the high price range of the RTX series. 
Computing

Dodge the biggest laptop-buying mistakes with these handy tips

Buying a new laptop is exciting, but you need to watch your footing. There are a number of pitfalls you need to avoid and we're here to help. Check out these top-10 laptop buying mistakes and how to avoid them.
Computing

Great PC speakers don't need to break the bank. These are our favorites

Not sure which PC speakers work best with your computer? Here are the best computer speakers on the market, whether you're working with a tight budget or looking to rattle your workstation with top-of-the-line audio components.
Computing

Confused about RSS? Don't be. Here's what it is and how to use it

What is an RSS feed, anyway? This traditional method of following online news is still plenty useful. Let's take a look at what RSS means, and what advantages it has in today's busy world.
Computing

Everything you need to know about routers, modems, combos, and mesh networks

Modem vs. router: what's the difference? We explain their functions so you can better diagnose any issues prior to contacting technical support. We also talk about a few variants you'll see offered by ISPs and retailers.
Computing

Metro Exodus update brings DLSS improvements to Nvidia RTX 20-series PCs

Having issues in Metro Exodus? A February 21 update for the title recently delivered enhancements to Nvidia’s deep learning supersampling feature and other fixes for low-specced PCs. 
Computing

Limited-time sale knocks $500 off the price of the Razer Blade Pro 17

Looking for an ultra-powerful laptop for yourself or someone else? You're in for some luck. Razer is running a sale on some of its best gaming laptops, cutting down pricing on the Razer Blade 15 and the Razer Blade Pro 17. 
Emerging Tech

Engineer turns his old Apple lle into an wheeled robot, and even gives it a sword

How do you give new life to a 30-year-old computer? Software engineer Mike Kohn found a way by transforming his old Apple IIe into a wheeled robot. Check it out in all its 1980s glory.