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Qualcomm gears up for Windows 8 tablets

Snapdragon prepared for next Windows OS

Qualcomm is stepping up its software efforts as its chips begin supporting more operating systems, including Microsoft's upcoming Windows OS, which will be targeted at mobile devices, tablets and PCs.

Qualcomm is preparing tools and software to hook Windows developers to the advanced features of the Snapdragon family of chips, said Rob Chandhok, president of Qualcomm Internet Services.

See also: Microsoft Windows 8 review

Qualcomm's Snapdragon chips are being used in smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices. Snapdragon chips today power most smartphones running the Windows Phone 7 OS, and HP recently chose the Snapdragon APQ8060 dual-core processor, which is based on an ARM design, for its upcoming TouchPad tablet. Microsoft in January announced that the new version of Windows would work with ARM processors, and roped in Qualcomm as a partner.

The focus is on core implementation tools, and the company is working with Microsoft, Chandhok said. Microsoft has not yet announced a release date for the next Windows OS.

Chandhok expects that the upcoming version of Windows, much like many mobile devices today, will have many features designed around browser technology and web services. There will be an increasing number of mobile devices accessing Internet services, and Qualcomm is doing a lot of work to ensure that technologies like HTML 5 - the next version of HyperText Markup Language - work seamlessly on devices using its chips.

Tablets with Microsoft's new Windows OS are a great opportunity for Qualcomm, Chandhok said. "For us it's movement into a new market," Chandhok said.

Qualcomm's chips also support operating systems such as Google's Android, and the company is writing software applications based on common standards that are OS-independent. At Mobile World Congress, the company showed devices running Alljoyn, which is software that allows peer-to-peer communication between devices over Wi-Fi or Bluetooth wireless networks without the need for an intermediary server.

Alljoyn would work on devices running the Android or Windows operating systems, which could bring commonality between devices and make communication easier, Chandhok said.

Qualcomm is primarily known as a chipmaker and wireless chip company, but has a history in software development. The company was responsible for the development of the popular Eudora email client from the early 1990s through 2006, when it announced it would turn the software into an open-source product. The company has also played a role in growing the ARM software ecosystem, and has also provided software development tools for its graphics processor, code-named Adreno, which is used in its Snapdragon chips.

The next version of Windows is also targeted at PCs, opening the door for Qualcomm to enter the PC market. But Chandhok said that Qualcomm will retain its focus on mobility, and has no plans to go into the PC market.

Qualcomm's competitor Nvidia is also developing chips that will run the upcoming version of Windows. Nvidia is developing a CPU code-named Project Denver for PCs, servers and supercomputers.


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