2023 has been an eventful year for laptops. Apple continues to dominate in both performance and battery life, while Microsoft only made incremental upgrades to its Surface line, and Intel has waited until the end of the year to respond to Apple’s dominance. But 2024 is going to be one of the most interesting years for laptops since the days of Windows 8, thanks to a new version of Windows, a big AI push, and another attempt to make Windows on Arm a reality.
Apple’s iPad inspired Microsoft to create Windows on Arm more than 10 years ago, and laptop makers introduced some weird and wonderful designs to match Windows 8. Although I’m not expecting a major design overhaul for Windows 12 (or whatever Microsoft calls it). The changes coming to laptops in 2024 and beyond will largely focus on the chip side for the age of AI.
Intel is starting work on its Meteor Lake Core Ultra chips as early as December. These are Intel’s first processors with separate chiplets for each component, the first on the Intel 4 process (equivalent to 7-nanometer), and its first with an AI coprocessor inside. Hopefully all of this will add up to better battery life that can rival Apple’s MacBook lineup, and perhaps even match performance.
AI coprocessor inside
The AI coprocessor inside it is interesting to me, especially because both Intel and Microsoft are hinting about a future version of Windows coming soon and “AI is going to reinvent the way you do everything on Windows.” going.” Rumors suggest that Windows 12 will include a bigger focus on AI and will take advantage of the AI coprocessors that Intel is building into its Core Ultra chips. (Intel isn’t alone: AMD also has its own Ryzen 7000 mobile processor that includes a dedicated AI engine, and these types of neural processing unit (NPU) chips are common on Arm-powered Windows laptops.)
Just ahead of the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Intel held an AI event this month to launch its Core Ultra chips, where we’ll see all the new laptops that are powered by Intel’s new chips. Lenovo, MSI, Acer and Asus are all launching laptops with these new chips. While Intel talked a lot about “AI everywhere,” the missing piece of the puzzle, a new AI-focused version of Windows, is still a mystery.
Intel has publicly teased a “Windows refresh” for 2024, which lines up nicely with its new AI-focused chip push and rumors of an AI focus for Windows 12. Microsoft hasn’t acknowledged any plans for Windows 12, but given that it’s been bringing AI features to Windows 11 and even Windows 10 at a rapid pace, it seems inevitable that the next version of Windows will focus on AI. Will concentrate heavily. “As we begin to develop future versions of Windows, we’ll think about other places where AI should play a natural role in terms of the experience,” Youssef Mehdi, Microsoft’s consumer marketing chief, said in an interview. the verge earlier this year.
The other Windows element is the arm. It looks like 2024 will be the next big push for Windows on Arm, with Qualcomm claiming that its Snapdragon X Elite processors will beat out Apple, Intel and AMD. Laptops with Snapdragon
Microsoft co-engineered custom Qualcomm chips for its Arm-powered Surface Pro variants, but performance never matches what you’d expect from a Windows laptop. Microsoft has largely solved the app compatibility issues, but unless developers move their apps completely to the Arm architecture, they won’t run smoothly. Microsoft Edge, built on the Chromium engine, runs great on Windows on Arm because Microsoft has done the work, while Google Chrome (also built on Chromium) lags far behind because it’s still an x86 app.
Qualcomm’s extra performance could help get Windows on Arm into a good place, but ultimately Microsoft and developers need to do more to make Windows on Arm good enough for all apps. Recent reports suggest that both Nvidia and AMD are planning to launch Arm PC chips by 2025, so it looks like next year could be a big year for Windows on Arm.
Hands on the surface: too little, too late?
Microsoft originally shipped its first Arm-powered Surface RT over a decade ago in 2012, so now is the time for Windows on Arm to finally become an option for the masses, and not just web browse on the expensive Surface Pro For the officers doing. Otherwise, like the year of desktop Linux, Windows on Arm is fast becoming a meme.
I’m also expecting to see new Surface hardware next spring. Microsoft is reportedly working on a smaller Surface Pro with an 11-inch display, so if that device is still in the works, 2024 and a new version of Windows seems like the right time for a new Surface device. The main Surface Pro and Surface Laptop systems are also due for upgrades, so it could be a busy year for Surface hardware.
However, there are still a lot of questions over the future of Surface – especially after Panos Panay, the main force behind Microsoft’s device efforts, departed for Amazon just weeks before the Surface event earlier this year. We haven’t seen what Panay is working on at Amazon yet, but he helped bring Surface to life as a secret project more than 10 years ago, so he’s bound to have big ideas for Amazon’s devices. is bound to.
Now we need to see how Microsoft will reshape the Surface under the new leadership and how the company builds on the success of the Surface Pro. The PC industry is eager to push AI features as a laptop selling point, with all eyes set on 2024 to see how this new AI era begins to transform the devices millions of people rely on every day.