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Microsoft's AI PCs, featuring Qualcomm's Snapdragon X Elite processors, aim to outperform Apple's M3 MacBook Air in CPU tasks and AI acceleration

Microsoft is preparing to unveil its vision for "AI PCs" at an event in Seattle next month, with sources indicating that the company is confident that a round of new Arm-powered Windows laptops will outperform Apple's M3-powered MacBook Air in both CPU performance and AI-accelerated tasks[1]. Microsoft is betting big on Qualcomm's upcoming Snapdragon X Elite processors, which will be used in a variety of Windows laptops this year and Microsoft's latest consumer-focused Surface hardware.

The new Snapdragon X Elite processors are expected to offer the performance that Microsoft has been looking for to push Windows on Arm more aggressively. Microsoft is planning a series of demos to showcase the superiority of these processors over the M3 MacBook Air for CPU tasks, AI acceleration, and app emulation.

The company claims that the new Windows AI PCs will have "faster app emulation than Rosetta 2," which is the application compatibility layer that Apple uses on its Apple Silicon Macs to translate apps compiled for 64-bit Intel processors to Apple's own processors[1]. Microsoft is also planning to ship consumer models of its upcoming Surface Pro 10 and Surface Laptop 6 with Qualcomm's Snapdragon X Elite processors inside instead of Intel's Core Ultra chips.

Devices running Qualcomm Snapdragon X Elite processors are being referred to as "next-gen AI Copilot PCs" internally, and they will get access to new AI-powered Windows features first, including an AI Explorer app that lets users "retrieve anything they’ve ever seen or done on their device"[1]. The AI Explorer app is designed to work as a timeline that users can summon on their PC, allowing them to recall what they were previously working on.

Microsoft is also planning to improve video streaming on Arm-powered Windows devices with a new AI-powered feature that will ship on these "next-gen" AI PCs. These PCs will also include access to the Windows Studio Effects for background blur and more, alongside the ability to create images with AI models for free and options to allow Copilot to access the context of your PC to improve prompts and answers.

Qualcomm is also confident in its new processors, offering hands-on opportunities to the media recently with the Snapdragon X Elite chips. Qualcomm has shown benchmarks that beat Apple’s M2 processor in many areas and Intel’s latest Core Ultra 7 chips. Qualcomm also claims that most Windows games should “just work” on its upcoming Arm laptops, indicating that we could eventually see some gaming laptops powered by Arm processors.

Microsoft's big AI PC reveal will take place on May 20th, just a day before the company's annual Build developers conference. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella will talk about the company’s “AI vision across hardware and software,” setting the stage for its latest Windows on Arm push and investment in AI features for Windows 11.

Microsoft's big AI PC reveal will take place on May 20th, just a day before the company's annual Build developers conference
Microsoft's big AI PC reveal will take place on May 20th, just a day before the company's annual Build developers conference
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