Microsoft Details Windows 10 on ARM

Microsoft today released a prerecorded video timed for Build 2017 that details Windows 10 on ARM and how its x86 emulation software works.

You can watch the video for yourself, of course, and it’s only 13 minutes long. But here are the highlights.

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Why Windows 10 on ARM? As Terry Myerson explained last December when this initiative was first announced, Windows 10 on ARM seeks to address key customer needs: Always-on connectivity through the addition of integrated LTE capabilities and great battery life.

It’s not Windows RT. Windows 10 on ARM will offer the full desktop experience, including iconic Windows 10 features like Cortana, Edge, and Windows Hello. It will include the same apps and work with all Store apps, plus x86 Win32 apps in emulation.

It is Windows 10 Pro. The demo machine (see below) is running a 64-bit version of Windows 10 Pro on an 8-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor with 4 GB of RAM. It’s “real” Windows 10 Pro, too, meaning that windows 10 Pro-specific features like domain join work as expected.

It’s not even close to ready yet. As the Microsofties in the video demonstrate, they’re using an early engineering sample provided by Qualcomm to run Windows 10 on ARM. It’s not a laptop or a hybrid device, but just a black box. The final devices will be “2-in-1s and laptops” from a variety of PC makers, they say.

It will have “great” device support. In addition to running Windows apps, Windows 10 on ARM supports a wide range of modern (often USB-based) devices using in-box (and ARM-based) class drivers. (This is going to be an issue with Windows 10 S, by the way, since you can’t run x86 Setup utilities on that system.)

The x86 emulation layer works. Native apps like Edge, of course, work normally, but this system’s ability to run x86 apps is, of course, of more interest. Based on the handful of x86 apps they run in the video, performance looks solid.

How does it work? According to Microsoft, running x86 apps (normal desktop apps) is transparent to the user (and to the developer of those apps); they just work normally as on any other PC. Emulation works as it always has in Windows: There is a WOW layer (Windows On Windows) that abstracts the underlying kernel, drivers, and other system components and makes the PC/OS look and work like the real thing. 64-bit Intel versions of Windows 10 do the same thing when running 32-bit code too. But the CPU isn’t emulated in software; that happens in hardware. On ARM, CPU emulation happens in software.

UWP apps run better. x86 run, but you will of course have the best experience with native UWP apps. These apps won’t task the processor, RAM, or battery as hard as emulated x86 code. They’re native to ARM on this platform.


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  • Nonmoi

    11 May, 2017 - 5:18 pm

    <p>So how about Ubuntu and other Linux flavors that will eventually be in the store when WoA commercially launched?</p>

    • Ezzy Black

      Premium Member
      11 May, 2017 - 7:04 pm

      <blockquote><a href="#115926"><em>In reply to Nonmoi:</em></a></blockquote><p>I can't imagine that Linux-on-Windows-on-ARM isn't the absolute last priority.</p>

      • jimchamplin

        Premium Member
        11 May, 2017 - 8:32 pm

        <blockquote><a href="#115969"><em>In reply to Ezzy Black:</em></a></blockquote><p>Being Windows 10 Pro, there's no technical hurdle or other reason that it isn't just there. Expect to see WSL arrive with it. Remember that all of those Linux distros already have ARM ports. WSL just comes along with Windows 10 Pro.</p>

  • brettscoast

    Premium Member
    11 May, 2017 - 5:20 pm

    <p>Great post Paul</p><p>Now this has got me excited as it should enthusiasts everywhere. That you can run all your apps as we do on our everyday PC's on these devices is a big deal.</p>

  • mebby

    11 May, 2017 - 5:47 pm

    <p>I am so glad Paul gets to distill on the Microsoft news for us. Even if he has to deal with Brad in-person. (Brad rags on Paul during FRD, I can't imagine what he is like in person.)</p><p><br></p><p>So not close to ready? I am wondering if this is years away. I had been thinking by end of this calendar year or beginning of 2018…</p>

    • chrisrut

      Premium Member
      11 May, 2017 - 6:11 pm

      <blockquote><a href="#115931"><em>In reply to mebby:</em></a> Nah. If they're running emulations now, they're not years off of silicon.</blockquote><p><br></p>

    • dstrauss

      12 May, 2017 - 9:24 am

      <blockquote><a href="#115931"><em>In reply to mebby:</em></a><em> Y</em>ear end 2017 is still a doable goal from everything swirling out there – in fact, the hold up could very well come down to the 835 chipset – Samsung has cornered the market for its series 8 phones, so much so that no other handset maker has them yet – so how long are the odds on Windows OEM's getting them anytime soon.</blockquote><p><br></p>

  • thisisdonovan

    11 May, 2017 - 6:17 pm

    <p>Haha, edge and cortana are iconic??</p>

  • glenn8878

    11 May, 2017 - 6:17 pm

    <p>10S on ARM. . . ? Why not?</p>

  • Jorge Garcia

    11 May, 2017 - 6:46 pm

    <p>Microsoft is doing a very admirable job making Windows do things and be on things that it was never meant to do, or be on…however it's still ultimately about the Apps. I don't see anybody under 30 attached to any Windows App in any way (other than work-related software, that they MUST use). So I continue to believe that once Apple gets its act together and makes some "real" laptops and PC's that run a desktop-ish version of iOS under the hood, they will have yet another mega hit on their hands, because of the Apps. And for the non-Apple types, PC's that run Android Apps in a windowed, semi-productive fashion will also appeal to them. I really don't see anyone giving a crap about Windows anymore, unless they have to, for work – or if they are the few who like heavy video editing, heavy Photoshop, those kind of things.</p>

    • skane2600

      11 May, 2017 - 7:13 pm

      <blockquote><a href="#115956"><em>In reply to Jorge Garcia:</em></a></blockquote><p>I just don't get what advantages a desktop-ish version of iOS would have over the existing MacOS. IMO it would end up being less appropriate for mobile than iOS is today and less appropriate for desktop than MacOS is today. Combining devices that have different needs and use cases rarely results in an optimal solution.</p>

      • Jorge Garcia

        11 May, 2017 - 8:48 pm

        <blockquote><a href="#115984"><em>In reply to skane2600:</em></a><em> What is the most popular (trendy) segment of the automobile industry today? CUVs. Crossover Utility Vehicles. They are ridiculous, if you think about it. They have scarcely more utility than a sedan, and their 4×4 prowess is pretty much a joke. They are raised off of the ground for looks only, really. And yet, people love them. Now follow me for a second….an OS that is "mildly" productive, but still allows people to access the SAME exact apps they love on their phones, but in a multi-windowed way would be huge. To you and me, it might be wishy-washy amateur nonsense, but most human beings are wishy-washy.</em></blockquote><p><br></p>

      • Jorge Garcia

        11 May, 2017 - 9:06 pm

        <blockquote><a href="#115984"><em>In reply to skane2600:</em></a><em> To continue my crazy auto analogy…if you buy a Jeep Wrangler, you are committing to a harsh ride and pretty low comfort level, in the name of great off-road prowess. If you buy a full-size van, you are committing to driving a boxy, unwieldy vehicle that gets poor mileage, in the name of maximum cargo/passenger room. But what do most people actually gravitate to? Something bland and noncommittal like a Toyota RAV-4, that does neither well. Windows and MacOS are like Jeep Wranglers. In the past, if you wanted to "compute", you needed to learn how to cope with being a full-time Jeep owner. People today, are perfectly ok with bland and semi-useful things…like their mobile OS's, but there is a slight need there for just a bit more flexibility, you know for those "longer" tasks and occasional multi-tasking sessions at Starbucks. That's where a mobile-top (iBook) would make perfect sense.</em></blockquote><p><br></p>

        • skane2600

          11 May, 2017 - 11:25 pm

          <blockquote><a href="#116018"><em>In reply to Jorge Garcia:</em></a></blockquote><p>You're right, it is a crazy analogy, or at least not a very valid one. CUVs, sedans, and Vans all are non-commercial vehicles that are, at their core, the same. They all can carry people and cargo and they all share a common "user interface" (although different makes and models have slight differences, they aren't based on vehicle class). Despite the marketing pitch CUVs aren't really a combination of any two vehicle types, they are just tall vehicles with some extra space. I don't like these kind of analogies, but a better one would be that Windows and Macs are cars and iOS and Android are motorcycles. The closest combination would probably be a motorized tricycle and those aren't very popular.</p><p><br></p><p>But we don't really need to consider vehicles when we can actually look directly at the differences between iOS and MacOS.</p>

          • Ugur

            12 May, 2017 - 4:30 am

            <blockquote><a href="#116031"><em>In reply to skane2600:</em></a><em> Yeah, exactly. The famous car&lt;-&gt;truck analogy Steve Jobs presented all those years back was powerful, but meanwhile has been proven to be wildly off.</em></blockquote><blockquote><em>He had put it like hey, the computers of old are like the big trucks and here we have this shiny thing which is way more apt to what most people actually use.</em></blockquote><blockquote><em>And what happened? Less than 7 years later it has shown most people see the ARM tablets as what they are, great for consumption and at best super light creation, but for everything that goes more in depth, people use desktop OS devices and that does not change one bit.</em></blockquote><blockquote><br></blockquote><blockquote><em>It would be much less work for Apple to add touch and pen support to macOS and allow flipping the screen around to the back on the laptops than to change iOS to a level where it can run all the desktop stuff (they'd basically have to change iOS to the degree where it is more macOS than iOS, next to changing the whole apps sandboxing model, at which point one can question why do it in first place that way round)</em></blockquote><p><br></p>

            • skane2600

              12 May, 2017 - 10:15 am

              <blockquote><a href="#116090"><em>In reply to Ugur:</em></a></blockquote><p>Yes. Although sometimes there is unnecessary complexity, often an increase in complexity is inevitably tied to increased capability. The old fashioned "toaster" interface was simple because it gave you very limited control over toasting.</p><p><br></p><p>Jobs was against a mini version of an iPad and I honestly think he made the original iPad as small as he could while still retaining the possibility of replacing a PC. He certainly didn't see smartphones as PC replacements. Yet the marketplace embraced the iPad mini (at least for awhile) and smartphones continued to be popular. I agree that for most people these devices are primarily about consumption and social communication.</p>

            • Jorge Garcia

              12 May, 2017 - 3:44 pm

              <blockquote><a href="#116090"><em>In reply to Ugur:</em></a><em> Wildly off? Steve Jobs (whom I semi-detest) was absolutely right. Most computing is basic and done on Mobile now. All i'm saying is if you upgrade mobile OS's just a bit more…you can completely remove the need for Windows and MacOS for most normal people. That's the future, it's not just me bloviating. Samsung would not be investing in DeX-Android if it didn't see that this is the way "out". Tables and tables of consumer PC laid out, all running Windows is extremely dated.</em></blockquote><p><br></p>

              • skane2600

                12 May, 2017 - 4:24 pm

                <blockquote><a href="#116267"><em>In reply to Jorge Garcia:</em></a></blockquote><p>It depends on what kind of "computing" you are talking about. I can take an old TV without any digital components and pick up an analog TV broadcast from Mexico or I can watch Netflix on my Windows Phone that obviously involves a lot of computing, but fundamentally it's the same activity – I'm watching video. Likewise my modern dishwasher has a microprocessor in it but serves the same fundamental purpose as the old mechanical dishwasher my mom used in the 60s. These kind of activities aren't really "computing" in the same sense as using a computer as a tool for intellectual work. The fact that many people own smartphones doesn't mean that a lot of them are doing traditional "computing" on them. Other than consuming content most of what people do on smartphones is a natural extension of a phone's fundamental purpose – to communicate. </p>

        • Ugur

          12 May, 2017 - 4:23 am

          <blockquote><a href="#116018"><em>In reply to Jorge Garcia:</em></a></blockquote><p>Your car analogies are nice and good examples for yes, in real life lots of people opt for the homer simpson designed like SUV car that has all in it (and does none of them best), but that analogy is off for what you are using it as argument for.</p><p><br></p><p>The analogy would fit if you would argue Apple should finally release Laptops which allow to fold the screen all the way back, too (maybe even have them detachable) and have touch and pen support.</p><p>(So like what MS does)</p><p><br></p><p>And yes, i could totally see that Macbook doing great, if they also add back all commonly used ports and finally add good internal specs for current standards into the macs again.</p><p><br></p><p>Heck, make the keyboard and trackpad good again and make the power Usb-C connector mag safe like with magnetic connector and blam, you'd address most criticisms against macbooks over the past few years in one fell swoop.</p><p><br></p><p><br></p><p>But what you argue there, the other option, just keeping iOS as iOS and making an iOS based laptop, yeah, that is not something like a convertible pc laptop or a SUV, no, it's just the same mobile OS with a different keyboard.</p><p><br></p><p>I bet you it would tank hard when attempted to be sold in higher price ranges.</p><p><br></p><p><br></p><p>People do want more usability and form factor options combined in less devices, but just adding a keyboard to an iOS device doesn't add enough of a usability gain compared to a keyboard case people can already use for many years now.</p><p><br></p><p>MS is way closer to making nice SUVs with their convertibles than Apple right now.</p>

    • RobertJasiek

      12 May, 2017 - 1:49 am

      <blockquote><a href="#115956"><em>In reply to Jorge Garcia:</em></a></blockquote><p>For iOS to become productive similar to Windows, iOS must start having a general file manager, general file transfer manager and general file backup manager also to / from USB devices. Apple still shows no sign of such. For me, it would triple the value of iOS devices but Apple still acts as if knowing it better than me what I need.</p><p>The myth "because of apps" does not conform to reality, except for meanstream application. For many other purposes of application, whether consumption or creation, there are no iOS apps or all iOS apps are disfunctional. The 1 million app count is immaterial for this. Uhm, and there are people under 30 with non-meanstream consumption or creation, or with the meanstream need for general file (transfer) management or backup.</p><p>Yes, iOS (or an iOS / macOS hybrid) redesigned for productivity would make a new hit for potentially productive (or non-meanstream consumptive) iOS hardware. However, as long as Apple believes that offering such a revision for iOS scared off many current customers because of becoming too Windows-like (even if all productivity was hidden behind an enabling switch), Apple won't do it. Apple milks its current customers as much and as long as possible. Scaring them by flooding iOS-related forums with "expert" questions about productivity features is exactly what Apple does not dare to do. Conceptually iOS is defined to be "not Windows". For us, this is the greatest mistake in computer industry ever – for iOS sheep, it is the purpose of their life.</p>

    • Ugur

      12 May, 2017 - 4:11 am

      <blockquote><a href="#115956">In reply to Jorge Garcia:</a> Nah, i totally disagree with you, that's a superficial look at things.</blockquote><blockquote>My small nephew (7) knows that the ARM tablets (iOS and Android ones) we use everywhere around the house are for quick access and intuitive hassle free consumption (mostly of video, but also quick lookup of content on the web) and throwaway free to play games from the app store but that for the powerful more in depth stuff there are the mac and windows laptops/convertibles and desktops.</blockquote><blockquote>He doesn't know the technical names of those devices and categories, but he totally gets they have different use cases and capabilities.</blockquote><blockquote><br></blockquote><blockquote>He already knows that the best and most games are on the computer running windows and that the second best option is consoles and then the third best, far behind and usually for throwaway games is on mobile.</blockquote><blockquote><br></blockquote><blockquote>And he also already knows that the most cutting edge hardware for AR and VR and graphics and other things is on windows only and windows is the only platform where one can have all that stuff, because it's open enough to allow all that stuff while supported enough and widespread enough to have the stuff on it.</blockquote><blockquote><br></blockquote><blockquote>Maybe not all educate their kids on such things, still, kids know where the steam library is. Kids know where the full version of minecraft is. Where they tried AR or VR device much better than cardboard/gear vr.</blockquote><blockquote><br></blockquote><blockquote>And for any kid/teen/pupil who does any creation, they will also quickly learn that all the pro apps are on windows and macOS.</blockquote><blockquote>iOS is around since what, 2007? And since 2010 on tablet form factor.</blockquote><blockquote>And nothing has changed about these facts at all since then.</blockquote><blockquote>And yes, meanwhile many realized that, too, hence why most who bought 1-4 ARM tablets over those years are now totally fine with them for the limited use cases one can do well on those and hence now most don't see any need to upgrade from those devices ever again until the batteries die.</blockquote><blockquote>Hence why ARM tablet sales go down for a bunch of years now.</blockquote><blockquote><br></blockquote><blockquote>No matter how fancy/intuitive to use iOS is (and i advocate often MS has to get the hassle free operation of windows going better), you still can't even code and compile and deploy an app on iOS.</blockquote><blockquote>Nor can you run any pro animation, 3d modelling etc etc app, game creation engine etc etc on it.</blockquote><blockquote>Medical, engineering, one could list one field after the other.</blockquote><blockquote><br></blockquote><blockquote>Yes, all are niches, but when one combines all the niches, yeah, it is still known to a lot of people that all around mobile OS are mostly for consumption, browsing and light office and super light creation work at best and as soon as one wants more in depth games, latest cutting edge hardware or use pro apps for any kind of creation, or even just transferring files and some peripherals and ports and file system access, one needs a desktop OS.</blockquote><blockquote><br></blockquote><blockquote>So due to all this and other reasons, it is naive to assume that Apple would just have to release a laptop running iOS and that would do awesome.</blockquote><blockquote>In fact i think it would tank pretty hard if it ran current iOS.</blockquote><blockquote>Also see iPad pro not doing anywhere near as great as Apple would have hoped.</blockquote><blockquote><br></blockquote><blockquote>So yeah, bottomline is: A mobile OS with all those restrictions, while it can't run all the desktop apps and games, will never come even close to replacing all those many use cases people use laptops/convertibles and desktops for with desktop OS on them, and a laptop with mobile OS will not change that.</blockquote><blockquote><br></blockquote><p>Now emulating desktop apps/games on ARM could help there to some extend if it runs well enough in emulation, but yeah, that still has to be seen.</p><p>(And it's not just the performance aspect that has to run well in emulation, it is also the aspect of how could most desktop apps do all the things one can do with them while running emulated/sorta sandboxed)</p><p>And even if/once it would run all desktop stuff great in emulation, it would not magically be well controllable with touch.</p><p><br></p><p>So yeah, it's not that simple as at first glance, Apple can't just release an iOS running laptop and expect it to sell awesome.</p><p>(They could in a 200 bucks price range as casual usage device, but not in a price range Apple would want, which is like brand it as the next generation of computing laptop for the masses and sell it at 900 up)</p>

  • skane2600

    11 May, 2017 - 6:48 pm

    <p>I suspect that the emulation is the reason for the delay. Demos should always be taken with a grain of salt. It doesn't seem that these devices require substantially different hardware than what already exists on many different devices. The original demo was 6 months ago, plenty of time to design the devices.</p>

  • m.rubino

    11 May, 2017 - 7:50 pm

    <p>Since this is a developer conference… any talk of letting devs recompile their x86 apps to be native on ARM?</p>

  • valisystem

    Premium Member
    11 May, 2017 - 8:17 pm

    <p>I'm confused. Windows 10 S can only succeed if MS sells a vision of it as the future of Windows – giving up many legacy x86 apps that don't get ported, in exchange for security and stability.</p><p>At about the same time, MS will release a version of Windows 10 Pro which can run all or most x86 programs, and which runs on ARM processors, which presumably means low-priced laptops.</p><p>Doesn't this undercut the rationale for Windows 10 S? If a consumer is shopping for a $299 laptop next spring and can choose between full Windows on an ARM processor, or a restricted version of Windows that can't run Chrome and uses Bing – who's going to choose that Bing machine?</p>

    • hrlngrv

      Premium Member
      11 May, 2017 - 8:26 pm

      <p><a href="#116010"><em>In reply to valisystem:</em></a></p><p>MSFT would argue they're providing their customers many different choices. It'd only be strange if there were no Windows 10 S option for ARM.</p><p>Also perhaps possible that MSFT is throwing out everything it can to stimulate Windows Store offerings. I suspect the board has laid out some requirements for where the Windows Store needs to be at fiscal year-end 2018, so by 30 June 2018. If the minimum goals haven't been met, goodbye Windows Store. UWP may be safer since Xbox and IoT depend on it.</p>

    • jimchamplin

      Premium Member
      11 May, 2017 - 8:30 pm

      <blockquote><a href="#116010"><em>In reply to valisystem:</em></a></blockquote><p>No, because "Windows on ARM" isn't a SKU, it's a new hardware target. All editions of Windows would be available on ARM. Remember that Windows 10 currently targets two hardware platforms, IA32 and AMD64, and each version has a different HAL.</p><p>Once the HAL is ported, then the rest of it really just comes down mainly to a recompile. Sure some bits have to be tweaked, but not much.</p><p>That was the whole point of NT.</p>

    • lvthunder

      Premium Member
      12 May, 2017 - 11:36 am

      <blockquote><a href="#116010"><em>In reply to valisystem:</em></a></blockquote><p>Just because it's ARM doesn't mean it's cheap. Have you seen the price of the top end smart phones.</p>

      • jbuccola

        12 May, 2017 - 12:52 pm

        <blockquote><a href="#116191"><em>In reply to lvthunder:</em></a></blockquote><p>The smart phone market has distortions in it, like carrier subsidies and monthly payment programs, that tweak the purchase price in ways that don't normally affect tablets.</p><p><br></p><p>One that has always raised my eyebrows is the iPad, which is now about 1/2 the cost of a similarly speced iPhone. Nearly identical device, larger screen — cheaper. </p>

    • MutualCore

      12 May, 2017 - 3:14 pm

      <blockquote><a href="#116010"><em>In reply to valisystem:</em></a></blockquote><p>That's because the selling point will be LTE-enabled PCs which will only be on ARM since Intel has killed their mobile Atom chip line. Hence, Windows on ARM, but it doesn't mean restricted to Store apps. Why is that so hard to understand or stomach for you?</p>

  • wright_is

    Premium Member
    12 May, 2017 - 3:23 am

    <p>"<span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">Always-on connectivity through the addition of integrated LTE capabilities and great battery life."</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">Hmm, Dell, IBM/Lenovo, Fujitsu and some others have had integrated 2G / 3G / LTE capabilities for nearly 2 decades on their Windows notebooks, at least as an option. Others, like Samsung, have offered it on some models in recent years.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">What is "great battery life"? My Spectre x360 and Lifebook A557 both last a full working day, without having to go into power saving mode.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">Good, my Samsung ATIV used to offer always on, but it was only Atom.</span></p>

    • jbuccola

      12 May, 2017 - 12:50 pm

      <blockquote><a href="#116072"><em>In reply to wright_is:</em></a></blockquote><p>When the LTE is engaged and connected on Intel devices, it severely impacts battery life.</p><p><br></p><p>With ARM-based tablets and phones, that's just not the case.</p>

    • MutualCore

      12 May, 2017 - 3:13 pm

      <blockquote><a href="#116072"><em>In reply to wright_is:</em></a></blockquote><p>There is a huge difference between having LTE modem as a separate unit and baked into the SoC as in ARM chips and some Intel Atoms. That kind of deep-level integration allows you to optimize the heck out of it to get lower power usage and more battery life.</p>

  • Ugur

    12 May, 2017 - 3:38 am

    <p>From a technical perspective i'm both excited about the achievement but also still sceptical about it, i'll believe x86 apps/games run well on it when i see it in real world usage for a week at least.</p><p>But in either case, i like MS doing this, because i hope this and also AMD delivering way more competitive cpus now, such things maybe finally give Intel a proper wakeup call to deliver way better stuff at more reasonable again pricing again.</p><p>I'm sorta annoyed by Intel delivering so slow step improvements (and partially even not very reliable ones) over the last few years so it's good they get a proper wakeup call.</p><p>I mean come on, meanwhile they even do nonsense like rename their atoms to core and rename their Core Ms to regular core to try to cheat people into thinking they get more powerful stuff instead of, you know, actually deliver more powerful stuff on the lower /more battery saving oriented ends.</p><p>And on the high performance ends their leaps have been becoming smaller and smaller over the past few years and higher and higher priced.</p><p><br></p><p>And now they finally have something which could be a really cool breakthrough on storage size/speed end at least with optane, and what do they do? They limit it to only work on the very latest motherboards and latest chips (and only on Intel chips) for no good reason at all and then also only release it in tiny storage size options at ridiculously inflated prices.</p><p>A real shame, because if they would not screw it up so badly in such ways, Optane could bring about the next revolution in storage sizes/speeds.</p><p>Really sad they mess that up so much.</p><p><br></p><p>So yeah, really good Intel gets some wakeup calls by AMD/MS side to at least push properly on their cpu offerings again.</p>

    • mjw149

      12 May, 2017 - 8:22 am

      <blockquote><a href="#116077"><em>In reply to Ugur:</em></a></blockquote><p>Well, I really wonder how development will go when ARM changes every two years – Quallcomm infamously does not support old gear – and it sometimes takes half that time to smooth out Windows drivers and such on certain devices. Seems a bit ambitious without custom hardware.</p>

  • Tony Barrett

    12 May, 2017 - 5:16 am

    <p>There has to be a big performance hit somewhere here, and I'm sure MS will have to certify specific Win32 apps to run on ARM. WoW works in the x64 to x86 world, because it's all still x86 architecture. Using WoW to go from ARM to x86 is a completely different architecture, which means everything will have to be emulated in some way.</p><p>Even if this works in some way on a desktop, if this is in some way the future of Windows Mobile, you're going to need some serious grunt to make anything Win32 usable on a handheld, and I just can't see if there's a market big enough to warrant this. Consumers aren't interested in WM full stop, and businesses are already turning their backs on it.</p>

    • trevor_chdwck

      12 May, 2017 - 2:12 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#116096">In reply to Tony Barrett:</a></em></blockquote><p>Look at @PListConverter's comment above. It does work with great performance as that video demonstrates on a Snapdragon 820, and remember that the 835 is 40% faster and uses 25% less power. </p>

  • PlistConverter

    12 May, 2017 - 8:05 am

    <p>For some sceptics: <a href="; target="_blank"></a></p><p><br></p><p>Photoshop and a game on a Snapdragon 820, and it's running fluently…</p>

    • Waethorn

      12 May, 2017 - 8:57 am

      <blockquote><a href="#116109"><em>In reply to PlistConverter:</em></a></blockquote><p>It's already been debunked by lots of people running the same version of Photoshop on Core i7 machines with m.2 SSD's where Photoshop still loads slower than that demo.</p>

  • skane2600

    12 May, 2017 - 11:05 am

    <p>I can see one argument for MS making a version of Windows on ARM because ARM has become the "toast of the town", but I think it remains to be seen whether they'll be a compelling reason to choose an ARM device over an Intel one. The only place that Windows on ARM would be potentially useful is on a 2-in-1 or on a laptop. Those devices are the least sensitive to power consumption of all mobile devices. Small tablets and smartphones have the wrong ergonomics for running legacy programs.</p>

  • Jules Wombat

    12 May, 2017 - 11:27 am

    <p>So basically Microsoft are still struggling to port Windows onto an 8-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor with 4 GB of RAM. Just about the most powerful ARM device (not even released)</p><p>Kinda defeats the whole object of porting to ARM. If they need such a powerful ARM chip, because emulation layer in the way, why bother. Its hardly going to compee with Intel Win32 performance or Android ARM performance. </p><p>Non Story, move On. </p>

    • Waethorn

      12 May, 2017 - 11:45 am

      <blockquote><a href="#116190"><em>In reply to Jules Wombat:</em></a></blockquote><p>What is the cost of a Snapdragon 835 SoC? Find that out, and we can do a direct comparison to Intel.</p>

  • pmeinl

    Premium Member
    12 May, 2017 - 11:36 am

    <p>Will we finally get CONNECTED STANDBY as it was promised when Surface machines were announced?</p><p><em>" A user of a Connected Standby PC can just shut the lid or press the power button and be assured the system will enter a low-power mode and maintain connectivity—just like a smartphone.</em></p><p><em>Connected Standby systems use low-power memory and power-optimized embedded controllers to consume less than 150 milliwatts in most configurations. This allows the typical platform to remain in Sleep for 300 hours on a full battery charge"</em></p><p>My Surface Pro 3 does not work "just like a smartphone". Instead it completely shuts down after an arbitrary 4h (At least it did so the last time I checked, maybe still under Win 8.1. With Win 10 there seems to be an new "Modern Standby", whatever this does.). So no rings for incoming Skype calls or alarms etc. after 4h.</p>

  • Waethorn

    12 May, 2017 - 11:42 am

    <p>Three reasons why this won't work:</p><p><br></p><p>1) It's CPU emulation, meaning it's slower than normal because you have to convert instructions. Microsoft says they'll combat this by caching converted instructions to the drive. First loadup of any app will be slow though.</p><p>2) Drive space will be consumed for the cached instruction conversion, meaning Win32 apps will take more storage space than they do on native x86 PC's.</p><p>3) Emulation and increased demand on drive loading means that any battery benefit gets shot out the window.</p><p><br></p><p>Why would anybody use an ARM system to run Win32 applications? I can't imagine ARM PC's are going to be cheap enough to counter even a modest quad-core Celeron or Pentium value chip from Intel, and running apps natively x86 has got to be better for power efficiency. Certainly, it's better for drive space, and it's not like you'd ever want to be loading *more* off an eMMC SSD. Certainly, increased demand on eMMC means it'll shorten drive life, making these systems fail earlier than Intel systems, thereby eliminating any cost advantages ARM might have.</p>

    • trevor_chdwck

      12 May, 2017 - 2:24 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#116193">In reply to Waethorn:</a></em></blockquote><ol><li>You are right on the initial loadup being somewhat slower due to the need to cache the instructions, but the fact that they run great afterwards will make this a non-issue.</li><li>Caching instructions is miniscule in size compared to the overall application because the same instructions are run multiple times. This will mean that a 30MB app will most likely only bloat to 31MB, that is again a difference that no one will care about. (we will have to wait to confirm that, but no need to be skeptical on this until we know for sure)</li><li>There will be a cost to battery benefits when running an x86 app, but I would put that down to more of an inefficiency with the x86 instruction set, rather than the emulation error. More importantly, this inefficiency will only be present when running x86 apps, the primary apps will still give the battery benefits. (mail, edge, etc.)</li></ol><p><br></p><p>So you can't imagine that an ARM based processor could compete with an Intel price point? It's already happening! Multiple vendors are building ARM based servers. That's proof positive that from an efficiency stand point ARM is at least competitive if not better than Intel. As for the extra drive loading, your right that there will be some at the beginning when it is initially caching the instructions, but after that it will load the app from the drive with the cached instructions and that will be the extent of it, that isn't going to hurt the drive life measurably…</p>

      • skane2600

        12 May, 2017 - 3:00 pm

        <blockquote><a href="#116246"><em>In reply to trevor_chdwck:</em></a></blockquote><p>It doesn't matter if a battery cost comes from the alleged "inefficiency" of X86 or because of an emulation error, it's still a cost. Since the primary purpose of a Windows on ARM device is to run X96 applications, the fact that "modern" apps are allegedly less power hungry is not particularly significant.</p><p><br></p><p>But there are reasons to doubt the level of compatibility, the power consumption advantages, and the comparative cost. We'll have to see what happens when a real product emerges and it is tested against a myriad of legacy apps to determine its relative value.</p>

        • trevor_chdwck

          12 May, 2017 - 4:59 pm

          <blockquote><em><a href="#116250">In reply to skane2600:</a></em></blockquote><p>Your forgetting that over time as more and more applications use the bridge to port their centennial apps to the Windows Store, this effect will become more and more pronounced, and from the sounds of things, this is already becoming more commonplace, heck, iTunes is coming to the Windows Store. </p>

          • skane2600

            12 May, 2017 - 5:14 pm

            <blockquote><a href="#116312"><em>In reply to trevor_chdwck:</em></a></blockquote><p>It remains to be seen how many Win32 applications will use centennial to bring them to the Windows Store, but those applications will still be fundamentally Win32 apps with a different method for installation than they previously used. They aren't designed to be suspended in the same way UWP apps are. </p>

            • Waethorn

              13 May, 2017 - 12:18 pm

              <blockquote><a href="#116324"><em>In reply to skane2600:</em></a></blockquote><p>Centennial apps are not ARM compatible. Only ARM-compiled UWP apps will be. Hence, they won't be optimized for ARM. More software will be available Windows on ARM using Centennial, but it also means the majority of software brought to Windows will likely not be optimized for ARM, and my argument still stands.</p>

              • skane2600

                13 May, 2017 - 5:54 pm

                <blockquote><a href="#116517"><em>In reply to Waethorn:</em></a></blockquote><p>I don't think we are in disagreement. As I said, Centennial apps are still fundamentally Win32 and thus you are correct to say they aren't compiled for ARM. But the other optimization limitation of Centennial apps is that they aren't designed to follow the UWP life cycle which purports to be a memory and power saver, Centennial apps don't know they are supposed to save state when they are suspended in case they are later abruptly terminated by the OS. I don't know how this is handled but I believe the only two options are for the OS to keep a Centennial app running when it's not in focus (thus not optimizing power or memory) or potentially losing its state. Hopefully it's not the latter which would be quite unexpected behavior.</p>

      • Waethorn

        12 May, 2017 - 3:09 pm

        <blockquote><a href="#116246"><em>In reply to trevor_chdwck:</em></a></blockquote><ol><li>You don't know how it's going to run after initial boot, but I'd imagine it's still going to be slow because it either has a cache file to read off the slow drive, or else if the cache file isn't adequate, it'll be using the realtime emulation.</li><li>I would beg to differ on this. If you're translating instructions in realtime and saving the conversions, those files are going to be big. Maybe not entirely as big as the application running in memory, but it very well could be.</li><li>Emulation and/or loading off the cache file off the drive will eat more battery. That's guaranteed. And as far as your "primary apps" concern, Win32 apps are the "primary apps" people care about on Windows. Otherwise Windows RT would still be a thing.</li></ol><p><br></p><p>I haven't seen hardly any ARM processors in practise. Facebook scrapped their ARM microserver plans. AMD's ARM chips have been delayed many times and just aren't in widespread use at all. Reading from a cached file is going to increase drive usage and will still cause additional drive perf hits because the application needs to load correctly, and I highly doubt that Microsoft has any kind of intelligent caching that transparently hands off disk access from the EXE to the cache file at the drive level. At an operating system level, it's probably built into the emulation system, which means the EXE has to load first, instructions have to analysed before execution, and then the cache file is read, if present, for any x86-specific machine code. And we're talking about eMMC here, not wear-levelling, controller-based SSD's. eMMC is horribly unreliable compared to something that does proper wear-levelling.</p>

        • trevor_chdwck

          12 May, 2017 - 4:56 pm

          <blockquote><em><a href="#116252">In reply to Waethorn:</a></em></blockquote><p>HP released two ARM based servers in 2014. Windows Server is being released for ARM based servers. And if the OS checks for a cache file on execution of the exe and loads it into memory if found would make for negligible disc read operations, the only extra load will be on the initial load while it creates the cache file. All of this could easily be done, the hard part would be the conversion of the x86 instructions to ARM, as long as the translations are efficient, then everything about this plan falls into place (except maybe drivers). Given that microsoft and qualcomm worked together to enable this emulation (Qualcomm even mentioned special hardware tweaks were baked into the Snapdragon 835's design for this) there is every likelihood that this portion works very well. </p>

          • Waethorn

            13 May, 2017 - 12:17 pm

            <blockquote><a href="#116310"><em>In reply to trevor_chdwck:</em></a></blockquote><p>Oooooh. 2014. Neither one has seen any consideration in recent Ubuntu Server releases.</p>

  • SvenJ

    12 May, 2017 - 12:14 pm

    <p>If this were around today, concern over a laptop ban on flights into the US might not be so high. You throw your lapdock into the checked bag, and your Phone/PC into your coat pocket. Harder to get work done, but your data and apps are available and safe. Just say'n, there are some compelling scenarios for a 'Pocket PC' to borrow a phrase.</p>

    • skane2600

      12 May, 2017 - 1:56 pm

      <blockquote><a href="#116199"><em>In reply to SvenJ:</em></a></blockquote><p>The proposed ban is only for laptops in the cabin, not in checked baggage. They could ban smartphones in the cabin just as easily. </p>

  • ben55124

    Premium Member
    12 May, 2017 - 1:15 pm

    <p>Will the Brad emulator for clippy also be publicly available?</p>

  • bsd107

    Premium Member
    12 May, 2017 - 1:24 pm

    <p>When they say "X86 Win32", does that also include x64 applications?</p>

    • Waethorn

      12 May, 2017 - 3:19 pm

      <blockquote><a href="#116226"><em>In reply to bsd107:</em></a></blockquote><p>No.</p>

  • MutualCore

    12 May, 2017 - 3:12 pm

    <p>So Windows on ARM not coming until Spring 2018.</p>

  • Waethorn

    12 May, 2017 - 3:21 pm

    <p>Did they show League of Legends actually running?</p>

    • trevor_chdwck

      12 May, 2017 - 4:59 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#116257">In reply to Waethorn:</a></em></blockquote><p>No, but I'm right there with you, wishing they had!</p>

      • Waethorn

        13 May, 2017 - 12:16 pm

        <blockquote><a href="#116313"><em>In reply to trevor_chdwck:</em></a></blockquote><p>I bet they're glad they didn't.</p>

  • Bill Russell

    12 May, 2017 - 4:57 pm

    <p>What 32-bit x86 windows only consumer oriented applications are people expected to want to run. Winamp? Not many. Anyone else have ideas? I use one 32-bit windows only application at work but it requires USB drivers which likely wouldn't work for the debugger and I don't see why I would run it on an arm device. </p>

    • Bill Russell

      12 May, 2017 - 5:10 pm

      <blockquote><a href="#116311"><em>In reply to Bill Russell:</em></a></blockquote><p>Photoshop 2017 says 8 GB RAM recommended and:</p><p><em style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">* 3D features are disabled on 32-bit platforms and on computers having less than 512MB of VRAM. Video features are not supported on 32-bit Windows systems.</em></p><p><br></p><p>Plus a general "good luck" to running something like that on emulated ARM in any practically usable way. I don't care what the staged demo shows.</p>

  • skane2600

    13 May, 2017 - 10:36 am

    <p>Do they really mean 32-bit only, or are they using x86 to refer to desktop applications generically? If they mean the former, WoA is DOA. Nobody wants partial Windows compatibility.&nbsp;</p>

  • PeteB

    13 May, 2017 - 12:00 pm

    <p>Emulating bloated x86/Win32 programs on expensive and comparatively weak ARM chips will go nowhere. Sticking an elephant in a tutu doesn't make it a ballerina.</p>

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