Microsoft, for quite some time now, has shipped two versions of Windows: Windows for x86 chips like Intel's and AMD's and the other one called Windows on ARM which has been exclusive to Qualcomm chipsets. Other ARM-based manufacturers, like MediaTek and even Apple, have not been able to use the Windows 11 on ARM version.
According to a report from XDA Developers, this is because of an "exclusivity deal" between Microsoft and Qualcomm that Windows on ARM can only be on chipsets by Qualcomm. However, according to the report, the deal is about to expire "soon" and we could see Windows 11 on ARM devices with chipsets from MediaTek and others.
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The report doesn't state when the deal is about to expire, but it states that it is the only thing "holding back other chip vendors from competing in the space." However, the report also emphasizes on the fact that "Wintel" (the partnership between Microsoft and Intel for Windows) is about to fade away and the shift to ARM for Microsoft is "inevitable."
What it means for Windows on ARM ecosystem and for the consumers?
Essentially, if Qualcomm and Microsoft don't renew their "partnership", it could mean we could see devices from companies such as Samsung, HP, and Lenovo that run Windows on ARM version on chipsets other than Qualcomm. Currently, Samsung and HP sell Windows on ARM laptops but they're all based on Qualcomm's chipsets.
For Apple M1 Mac owners — if the deal doesn't go through and any company is able to license Windows on ARM — it could mean that Apple could add support for Windows on M1 Macs. Currently, M1 Macs, including the new 2021 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models, do not support Windows via Bootcamp. Previous Macs and MacBooks (which were based on x86 architecture) were able to dual-boot Windows and macOS via Apple's own Bootcamp app. However, it is no longer possible as Windows on ARM is not available for Apple to license. Even though there is an option for Apple customers to run Windows on M1 devices via a third-party app, the solution isn't native.
If Qualcomm and Microsoft don't renew the partnership, it could mean Apple M1 devices will be able to run Windows natively. Other than that, not only Apple but other companies such as Samsung and MediaTek will also be able to make chipsets that run Windows on ARM. Would you like to see Windows on ARM devices from other chip manufacturers? Have you tried Windows on ARM yet? How's your experience been? Let us know in the comments section below!