Microsoft will use Qualcomm's Snapdragon chips in devices running its new Window 8 platform, designed to run on both personal computers and tablets.
The move cools Microsoft's longstanding relationship with Intel, which has traditionally been the provider of chips for Windows-based computers. Microsoft currently uses Qualcomm's Snapdragon chips in all its Windows Phone 7 smartphones.
"Windows 8 will enable customers to have the flexibility, connectivity and power that they expect from Windows today with new, touch-only devices like tablets. This will require high-performing, low-power processors like those from Qualcomm, with features like 3G and 4G wireless wide area network (WWAN) connectivity," said Mike Angiulo, corporate vice president of Windows planning, hardware and PC ecosystem, in a statement.
The first Snapdragon chip to find its way into Windows 8 devices will be the MSM8960, which begins sampling this month. The next Snapdragon chip in Windows 8 devices will be Qualcomm's highly anticipated quad-core APQ8064, which is expected to begin sampling in early 2012.
The MSM8960 is a dual-core chip that provides both 3G and LTE connectivity. The Snapdragon chips that will be used in Windows 8 devices will include dual and quad asynchronous CPU cores.
Microsoft says Windows 8 computers are "really a new kind of device, one that scales from touch-only small screens through to large screens, with or without a keyboard and mouse."
The new Windows 8 platform borrows heavily from the wireless space. Microsoft replaced the Windows Start menu with a tile-based Start screen and made the overall user interface more akin to a mobile operating system.
Microsoft's efforts to bring Windows in line with mobile operating systems could help the company boost the appeal of its PC products as demand for tablets and other wireless gadgets has taken a bite out of computer sales.
Three of the world's top five PC manufacturers saw year-over-year declines in shipments during the first quarter of 2011, reports IHS iSuppli.