The Mac vs. PC War Seemed a Thing of the Past. Now, It’s Coming Back

The arrival of Windows ARM laptops equipped with Snapdragon X Elite and Plus chips revives a war now marked by efficiency and power.

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Microsoft is set to reveal its long-planned ARM computers featuring Qualcomm's Snapdragon X Elite processors to better compete with Apple Silicon Macs. As noted by Tom Warren in The Verge, this development marks a resurgence of the historic rivalry between Mac and PC, which had been waning in recent years.

Why this matters. Microsoft’s move will rekindle competition in the PC market, especially the laptop segment. Windows PCs are expected to take a big leap forward, putting more pressure on Apple to keep improving its macOS devices.

What happened? Microsoft unveiled its AI vision across hardware and software on Monday. The tech giant announced new computers with Qualcomm ARM chips, not traditional Intel chips.

The new computers weren't a complete surprise, as Microsoft has been dropping many hints in recent months. The move aims to strengthen its computers and better compete with Apple’s MacBooks with Apple Silicon chips, which are also based on ARM architecture. The main factors driving this change are CPU performance, AI acceleration, and app emulation.

Some context. Apple has been revolutionizing its computers for almost four years. In 2020, the Cupertino firm announced the switch from macOS to ARM architecture and the use of its chips of its own design: the Apple Silicon family. Most recently, Apple introduced the M4 processor, the fourth generation of Apple Silicon, in its 2024 iPad Pro line.

This move has enabled Apple to create faster, more efficient computers with a much longer battery life. Now, Microsoft is planning to replicate this move with its own formula.

Impact on industry. Monday’s announcement was just the first blow. We can expect a flood of ARM computers running Windows from manufacturers such as Dell, Samsung, Asus, and Lenovo.

Additionally, with the new X Plus chip, these manufacturers will be able to offer cheaper ARM laptops without sacrificing too much performance for AI processes, which is a significant market opportunity for 2024.

  • The AI Microsoft is working with includes the AI Explorer, as reported by Windows Central. This feature is similar to what Rewind offers in macOS, providing a way to recall anything seen on the computer screen in the past.
  • These types of AI-based features are exclusive to computers with the new Qualcomm chips. AMD or Intel may also offer them in the future if they adapt their chips.

The outlook. By the end of 2026, Microsoft expects that 50% of laptops launched will include more powerful and specialized AI chips.

While the Mac vs. PC rivalry seemed like a thing of the past, Microsoft’s focus on its own silicon will bring it back, with AI taking center stage.

Image | Xataka, Apple, Mockuuups Studio

Related | Microsoft Already Knows How to Conquer the AI World: Money. It’s Spent Nearly $30 Billion (So Far)

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