Microsoft Finally Documents the Limitations of Windows 10 on ARM

Posted on February 17, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10 with 117 Comments

ARM-Based Always-Connected Windows 10 PCs Approach the Finish Line

For over a year we’ve been treated to the fantasy that Windows 10 on ARM was the same as Windows 10 on x86. But it’s a bit more nuanced than that.

Granted, we’ve known some of the differences from the beginning, and we’ve vaguely understood that there would be trade-offs for those moving to this new hardware platform. In particular, the performance of x86 apps, which would need to be emulated.

This week, however, Microsoft finally published a more complete list of the limitations of Windows 10 on ARM. And that word—limitations—is interesting. This isn’t how Windows 10 on ARM differs from Windows 10 on x86-based systems. It’s how it’s more limited.

And while we absolutely knew about some of these, the items on this list include.

64-bit apps will not work. Yes, Windows 10 on ARM can run Windows desktop applications. But it can only run 32-bit (x86) desktop applications, not 64-bit (x64) applications. (The documentation doesn’t note this, but support for x64 apps is planned for a future release.)

Certain classes of apps will not run. Utilities that modify the Windows user interface—like shell extensions, input method editors (IMEs), assistive technologies, and cloud storage apps—will not work in Windows 10 on ARM. They will need to be recompiled for ARM, and my guess is that this will not happen in most cases, especially in the next year.

It cannot use x86 drivers. While Windows 10 on ARM can run x86 Windows applications, it cannot utilize x86 drivers. Instead, it will require native ARM64 drivers instead. This means that hardware support will be much more limited than is the case with mainstream Windows 10 versions. In other words, it will likely work much like Windows 10 S does today.

No Hyper-V. This was a gray area previously—I’ve heard the phrase “it’s just Windows 10, so it will work” several times—but now it’s real: Hyper-V is not supported in Windows 10 on ARM.

Older games and graphics apps may not work. Windows 10 on ARM supports DirectX 9, DirectX 10, DirectX 11, and DirectX 12, but apps/games that target older versions will not work. Apps that require hardware-accelerated OpenGL will also not work.

That’s an interesting list and while it’s not completely damning, my months-long lackluster experiences with Windows 10 S suggest that the first year will be tough for many who do adopt this platform. As is so often the case with platform shifts, you’re best off sticking to new stuff and letting go of legacy, since much of the latter either won’t work, as noted here, or will run slowly.

Like many, I’m very interested in getting my hands on some ARM hardware to see what the experience is really like.


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Comments (117)

117 responses to “Microsoft Finally Documents the Limitations of Windows 10 on ARM”

  1. Daekar

    Given my needs out of my secondary devices, I am looking forward to seeing how well the lower cost ARM devices work. I don't want this for my desktop, but for a tablet whose primary purpose is mobility and productivity, none of the listed limitations are a problem.

    • wshwe

      In reply to Daekar:

      In the beginning I expect the big manufacturers to sell their WOA machines at premium prices. Look for Chinese companies like Chuwi and Teclast to sell truly affordable WOA tablets.

      • MikeCerm

        In reply to wshwe:

        Unfortunately, it will be a log time before we see such devices. Snapdragon 835 is way too expensive. Ever see a SD 835 phone under $500? Ever see a cheap Chinese Android tablet with anything but MediaTek CPU (other than the Atom-based Windows tablets)?

    • skane2600

      In reply to Daekar:

      I suspect the cost/performance ratio of ARM vs Intel when adding emulation isn't going to be as significant as some people want to believe. Not sure how we got into this "if only full Windows ran on ARM" mentalilty. Reminds me of the old Slashdot meme: 1) Get Windows to run on ARM. 2) ? 3) Profit!

      • hrlngrv

        In reply to skane2600:

        . . . Not sure how we got into this . . .

        Instant on and lust for longer battery life. Fanless a secondary consideration, though tied to battery life.

        • skane2600

          In reply to hrlngrv:

          "Instant on" sounds like an implementation choice/detail that is processor-independent. Battery life is irrelevant to desktop systems and often not that important for laptops since they're often used as deskop replacements. Battery life is most important for smartphones and pure tablets that are used almost excuslively in a portable fashion. Microsoft failed in the former case and doesn't offer any products in the latter case.

      • Waethorn

        In reply to skane2600:

        Microsoft failed that test already with Windows RT. You know that Step 2 is really just "Sell it", which obviously is true in that context (Microsoft couldn't).

  2. ayebang

    One thing I am sure with this limitation. It is still better than Ipad.

    MS office in Ipad, not to mentioned Apple suite, cannot be used effectively in the real world. As a lawyer, Ipad Pro or not Pro is useless if MS Office is not compatible enough.

    This Window in ARM will let me try if its battery life is last longer 9-10 hours in real life.

  3. YouWereWarned

    Quick...make a list of x86 apps that you'd love to run at 20% of desktop speed.

    Neither can I...

    • dontbe evil

      In reply to YouWereWarned:

      can you show me the benchmarks that x86 apps will run at 20%? thanks

      • skane2600

        In reply to dontbe_evil:

        20% is just speculation like any other number one could come up with but we can be pretty sure it's going to be less than 100%.

        • YouWereWarned

          In reply to skane2600:n

          Correct. And I was probably being generous. CISC has significant performance benefits over RISC/ARM but they come at a price. Intel could not do in hardware what Microsoft is now speculated to be attempting in software. I am afraid this is the typical "fast/good/cheap--pick two" scenario. The viability of Win32 code on RISC depends upon the cloud for the heavy lifting. The queue of Win32 developers wanting do that sort of recoding forms to the right...and nobody is in it.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to YouWereWarned:

      Dunno. That might finally give me a chance with some games.

    • Davor Radman

      In reply to YouWereWarned:

      Why do you insinuate there will be 80% performance penalty?

      Honestly, when I look at the apps I use, I don't really see any problem is they were running at almost half the speed in execution, as long as launch time it ok, and browser performance was adequate.

      • dontbe evil

        In reply to Markiz von Schnitzel:

        He even just troll and down vote us

        • YouWereWarned

          In reply to dontbe_evil:

          If "he" is me you are mistaken. Everyone can have all the votes their egos desire, but the par value of same is approximately 1/20th of a cent, just like S&H Green Stamps (a blast from the past for those of us who have toggled bootstrap loaders in order to "compute"). I rather liked the decidedly un-social nature of that process.

          • dontbe evil

            In reply to YouWereWarned:

            I don't care about downvotes in general, in this case I cared because you're downvotes were non (argumented) answers, to our facts

            • YouWereWarned

              In reply to dontbe_evil:

              First--didn't down-vote anyone, although someone down-voted my original post, which is fine. But I'm still waiting for the "facts" you seem to require along with that act.

              Second--it is "your", not "you're". "He even just troll and down vote us" also has some issues.

              • dontbe evil

                In reply to YouWereWarned:

                Are we moving the topic to English grammar? "You're" it's clearly a stupid android auto correction issue, about the second sentence, thanks to point it out, I'll try to improve it... You know not everybody is a native English speaker

  4. jimchamplin

    Okay, just getting it out there...

    These limitations apply to emulated x86 code, and are not design decisions. Software that is compiled to run on an ARM system will operate just as an x86 version does on an x86 system. It's not that "Windows on ARM" is hobbled so that you can't use Dropbox. It's that Windows 10 Home, Pro, or Enterprise will be 64-bit AArch64 code, and will be unable to interact directly with emulated x86 code.

    Required reading on the subject...

    WoW64 isn't new, it was introduced in Itanium builds of Windows XP to allow unmodified x86 software to run on the binary-incompatible Intel Itanium ISA. The same limitations applied then. WoW64 on AMD64-based systems (virtually all modern PCs) does not have these limitations as it doesn't have to perform binary translation.

    Repeat to yourself "It's just a new platform for NT. I should really just relax."

  5. PeteB

    Windows RT Part II: Another Half Baked Solution in search of a problem

  6. Stokkolm

    and cloud storage apps—will not work in Windows 10 on ARM

    Even OneDrive?

  7. mrdrwest

    See, Win32 mucking things up. It can't go away fast enough.

    Have PWA fart apps been tested for WOA compatibility to ensure fartible profiles ( audible brap clips) can be synced across platforms?

  8. longhorn

    I quickly took a look in the Store. It seems popular apps (for example Photoshop, Netflix, Spotify and games) require x86. It would be interesting to know how many Store apps can run on ARM. Are there any popular Store apps that are ARM compatible?

    • MattHewitt

      In reply to longhorn:

      I don't think this matters, because the x86 apps will be emulated to run on ARM. If one of these apps was x64 compatible only, that's when they wouldn't run on Windows on ARM. So if the Netflix Store app is x64 only, it wouldn't run on this system. If it is x86, then it will run just fine do the the x86 emulation layer.

  9. navarac

    Sounds like Windows 10 S, which is a flop.

    • jimchamplin

      In reply to navarac:

      Nothing like it. In fact, S mode is an optional mode of Windows 10 Pro on ARM because it's just Windows 10 ruining on a different hardware platform. Like XP on Itanium from the last decade, or NT on DEC Alpha in the 90s, it's plain old Windows 10 only bound by the hardware it runs on.

  10. Jorge Garcia

    This is the right thing for MS to do. It will change the way many business travellers view their laptops. Now, they are like balls and chains that you have to worry about turning "all the way" off, lest you waste too much battery...whereas now they'll behave much more like iPads do, as in you hardly ever think about turning an iPad completely "off". Although, truth be told, once Google gets its act together and makes a slightly more "grown-up" OS for their laptops (and by extension desktops), it's pretty much the end of the road for Windows.

  11. Marius Muntean

    :))) what a complete JUNK OS! This is another RT attempt that is DOA!

    • Jorge Garcia

      In reply to Marius_Muntean:

      This is not RT at all. AT ALL. As long as Chrome works decently well on it, most people will buy these laptops and not even realize what's actually going on under the hood. What they WILL notice is that if they shut the lid and come back in a still has most of its battery life left. That is what people are used to now due to smartphones and iPads, and this is how all laptops must behave moving forward. MS really has no choice but to do this, kludgey as it may be. Considering what it's accomplishing, I'm actually very impressed that MS made it as well as it has so far. The x86 architecture dates back to the late 60's, and useful as it has been to us, it is certainly time to move on.

  12. John Scott

    Worse then 10S because with the ARM cpu you have no option to upgrade to a full Windows. No thanks.

  13. Oscar Castillo

    A clean break from legacy would be great, but until there are killer demos that show native ARM apps meeting or exceeding the performance of their legacy x86/64 versions, nobody will buy into it.

    • Jorge Garcia

      In reply to Oscar Castillo:

      I think that a large percentage of people who use Windows laptops only use it for non-demanding business tasks like Web, Office, etc. If these things are able to conserve their batteries anything like iPads do when they're put to "sleep"...then THAT feature alone will trump minor performance issues in the eyes of many folks, in my opinion.

  14. X911ty12

    So basically Windows RT + a few more working apps thrown in. Pass. This has waste of money written all over it.

  15. Bill Russell

    letting go of "legacy" just isn't an option for those who still need windows for windows. "Windows"=win32="legacy". When I let go of "legacy", and stick with "new stuff", that means not using windows - not using "new windows". This has been demonstrated in the consumer decline of PCs of the last few years (possibly accelerated by win 8) and failure of winRT, Win 10S, and windows phone and mobile.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to Bill_Russell:

      Spinning this another way, if one could give up all that Win32 legacy software, would one need an OS named Windows? If Windows for ARM can run enough 32-bit Win32 software, it'll find a niche. Packaged 32-bit Win32 software from the Store may become preferred to traditional distribution channels for such software. However, Windows for ARM isn't going to usher in the bright new future for UWP.

  16. arunphilip

    I've been looking at this troubleshooting page ( that mentions there are different modes of execution of x86 apps. By default, the x86 code is recompiled to ARM64 and is cached for subsequent executions. So, its not a just-in-time compilation, but more like how .NET optimizes apps. That is reassuring since the performance difference shouldn't be as great as feared in normal user apps.

    Further, there appears to be a mode that allows ARM64 code to exist within x86 binaries. This is again interesting, because it can mean that developers who currently maintain and distribute 2 packages (x86, x64) don't have to maintain/distribute 3 packages (x86, x64, ARM) but the x86 variant can be enhanced to include ARM64 code and they have to maintain/distribute only the current 2 packages (x86+ARM, x64).

    It will be interesting however, to see how 32-bit version of non-Microsoft browsers perform on JavaScript-heavy sites, because those engines also have to perform JIT compilation at the app level (convert JavaScript to x86), and whether that will impose an observable difference when the browser JITted code needs to be executed again by the x86 compatibility layer in the OS. I say non-MS because I'm sure Microsoft will provide a native ARM version of Edge that ensures the browser's JavaScript engine directly targets ARM64 code. The other big question is whether Firefox and Chrome will have their engines updated to target ARM64, or whether they don't see WOA as a big-enough market.

    • arunphilip

      In reply to arunphilip:

      Technical stuff aside, it will definitely be interesting to see what are the product offerings that companies come out with - what sort of hardware, what price points, and what form factors.

      Would we see the Surface line splitting into ARM and x86 variants? Will there be HTPCs/NUCs? 2-in-1s?

  17. Todd Northrop

    Another sad sack article bemoaning Microsoft for seemingly no reason. Who the F would need to run Hyper-V on something like an iPad?! Because that’s the type of hardware that the ARM version will be targeted at. There is no attempted thoughtful analysis here, just a bunch of sour grapes at s*** that doesn’t apply to the use cases of the hardware. Oh no, my scanner I bought 10 years ago will not work with my Windows ARM tablet. Give me a break. So annoying to read this negativity. You should let the other guys write the next article so it has at least a bit of useful analysis.

    • seapea

      In reply to Speednet:

      Excuse me, have you considered that with no 64 bit apps and no driver support for any x86 drivers that there are a lot of current productivity setups that will simply be a non-starter.

      You are also making a grand assumption as to the type of hardware the ARM version will be targeted. An assumption based on what?

      Did you see or read any of the publicity items from the Windows ARM event in Hawaii?

    • arunphilip

      In reply to Speednet:

      Bemoaning? Paul's just reported the differences, with a bit of cautious commentary at the end. I don't see the negativity you're alluding to.

      Also, it is good and important to have the distinction called out between x86 apps and x86 drivers working on WOA. Let's say I connect a fancy new gaming mouse to my WOA laptop, and the extra buttons don't work. I shouldn't be left wondering why the x86 drivers don't install despite WOA supporting x86, and am now dependent on the manufacturer to issue such drivers.

      Likewise, Paul has stated the absence of Hyper-V as a plain fact, with no judgement or criticism.

  18. Stooks


    Microsoft is confusing anyone that looks at them. No Windows phone, but yeah another Windows on ARM???? Third time is a charm? (Windows Phone, RT and now this).

    Is it Win32, UWP or PWA? Amazon just put their glorified web/music app in the store as a wrapped Win32/UWP app??? Where is iTunes in the store? Groove is gone.

    My company fed up with many many issues of controlling the junk in normal Windows 10 Enterprise, especially after any of the big updates, is redeploying Windows 10 LTSB. The very stripped down version of LTSB is what the Enterprise version should have been, especially for corporations. Just waiting for Microsoft to screw that up somehow.

    I just do not see Windows 10 on ARM ever going anywhere. Native apps would help it but they will never come in any kind of way.

    • Ugur

      In reply to Stooks: I could see myself buying one as additional third or forth on the go/living room device thing once 64 bit app support comes, basically instead of buying a chromebook or yet another iPad or other arm tablet.
      Basicalyl to get something more capable than an iPad or chromebook as in closer to desktop capabilities.
      But it depends on price and also user friendliness, if the thing is still a lot more cumbersome in day to day use and also maintenance than a chromebook or iPad, well, it sorta misses the mark then of what it would be it's main potential audience.

      • Stooks

        In reply to Ugur:

        What exactly are you needing to do in the living room that an iPad can't do??

        The iPad 5th gen is $329 and has massive software and accessory support. What will these Windows 10 ARM devices cost? What 64bit x86 emulated software will you run on it while sitting in the living room?

        What we still HAVE NOT seen is real benchmarks. Why is Microsoft hiding them. I bet the benchmarks are horrible for any complex apps.

  19. Stocklone

    Hey Paul, if I'm not logged in and I go to reply to someone, is there a way for me to log-in without scrolling all the way back to the top of the comments or the site? Also, if I'm not logged in, I get zero response from the UI telling me that I need to log-in after clicking on upvote or reply. I'm using Firefox Quantum if that matters. And maybe it's just user error. Anyways, love the articles. I enjoy the balance you bring to the Microsoft universe. The world only needs so many MS fanboys.

  20. peterh_oz

    How long until the first bogus antitrust claim due to Kasperski or Google Drive not working?

  21. Ugur

    Once they get 64 bit support (and ideally some of those others) going, there would be a chance/open room for this if:

    -The devices are labelled clearly as something different than Intel laptops/desktops

    -the devices are while being the same in hardware quality besides the chip on same quality level as Intel laptops/desktops MASSIVELY cheaper.

    It will not work out if they are not clearly labelled/branded as something different and then on top cost around the same, then people would at best buy them accidentally, then get pissed off something they expect to run doesn't run and then return it.

    One of the main reasons for the success of iPads and Chromebooks (besides very intuitive base usability and no cumbersome maintenance requiring general operation) is that those are very clearly labelled as something different than regular windows/macOS (intel) laptops/desktops.

    That is important because that way people don't come to those as often with the expectation to run all their desktop software.

    One of the main fails of Windows RT was that MS tried to cheat people into thinking they would be buying regular windows intel devices and then people would go angry of course when the stuff couldn't run all their desktop apps and games.

    Now with this second ARM push attempt on the up side it can run a lot more of the desktop stuff but while it can't run it all, it has to be branded as something different and be priced much lower.

    Maybe cloudboook or whatever fancy unique categorization they can come up with.

    Then people could appreciate it for it's benefits, like that it is more capable than an iPad or Chromebook as in being able to run more of your desktop grade stuff, instead of seeing it as something which can run less of their desktop stuff they got cheated into as it was sold as same thing.

    • skane2600

      In reply to Ugur:

      "the devices are while being the same in hardware quality besides the chip on same quality level as Intel laptops/desktops MASSIVELY cheaper."

      The problem is that the CPU isn't really what drives the cost of a computer. Thus chromebooks even when using ARM chips are still no cheaper than low-end Intel PCs. This was part of the problem for the so-called Network Computers that Sun and Oracle tried to push in the late 90s (although they had additional cost of ownership problems that went beyond the client machines).

  22. nbplopes

    I think too many people are assuming that ARM based Windows PC will be cheaper than Intel based PCs.

    There is nothing in the market that can sustain these assumptions for now.

    The expected benefit of these systems compared to Intel is clear to me: battery life and always on while better performance on "standard" productivity tasks for the price.

    The tradeoff seams to be a more controlled environment, aka Windows 10 S. Not lower price.

    • skane2600

      In reply to nbplopes:

      Given that most "standard" productivity tasks are performed using X86 programs, it doesn't sound like ARM will have the advantage there.

      • nbplopes

        In reply to skane2600:

        It depends. Standard productivity software from a speed perspective, the cheapest iPad Pro it already out performs 1300 euros wintel laptops and macs. From word processing, email and task management to photo editing. If not for the religious lack of mouse support ...

        the challenge of MS is that it’s surrounded by a community of users and developers that believe in x86 for ever as if there can’t be any better options in the context of mobile computing. Inspite of all evidences that ... it can. Denying simple facts such as in the corporate environment most custom apps are web enabled and web enabled productivity apps are wide spread.

        MS not embracing, with all heart and fully the PWA in Windows will be another major blunder. As fast as they move away from UWP the fastest they will be back in mobile. It’s. It cannot be just about technical abilities as MS lately as put it.

        Its all intertwined ...

        Meanwhile the world around them evolves with no such emotional or cultural attachments.

        • skane2600

          In reply to nbplopes:

          I can't comment on the performance or price difference between an iPad Pro and an unamed Windows or Mac machine.

          There's a long history in tech of maintaining the status quo for compatibility reasons even when better alternatives exist or could be developed (although there's little evidence that UWP would fit that "better alternative" scenario.)

          Look at the QWERTY keyboard. Look at the way the web protocols, HTML, CSS, the DOM and JavaScript are duct-taped with frameworks and libraries rather than simply recognozing that the web as we know it wasn't designed to support web apps or to maintain security.

          • nbplopes

            In reply to skane2600:

            I can comment on the first because I've done some simple non scientific tests. We cannot argue that the iPad Pro 12.9 is not a highly responsive device. On the, other hand I've compared for instance searching an Excel spreedsheet with 100.000 records on the iPad Pro against an Surface Pro 4 Core i7 and a MacBook Pro Core i7. Surprisingly it was faster. In terms of Photo editing I used an app called Affinity Pro comparable to Photoshop on the PC and Mac, and it was faster, more so even than an Surface Pro 4 when it started throttling ... and it is much cheaper. But it lacks mouse support and this is a big issue ... and unfortunately Apple is using it on mobile has a hammer for every nail ...

            On the second observation ... I think people change when the advantages clearly outweigh the cost of change. The problem is that the alternatives like the one above and other such as Chromebooks have not done that for general computing due to many reasons, one of them pointed above, but there are others not to do with apps necessarily.

            On the third observation. During my carrear I've learned to program in many languages, so many that some I have mostly forgotten. But instead of going down the path of comparing languages per languages look at the evidence in practice. Look at the Internet, look at how many application internet driven technologies are powering, using HTML, javascript, XML, Json and the amount of backend languages that can be used. Applications working 24x7, bug free or at least fault tolerant. I'm from the time were Windows applications were built with as you may put it, better languages and architectures such as CORBA, but would crash not so infrequently ....

            I'm from the time where to put a dialog box on the canvas would require a lot of code, so much so that IDE were built with visual UI editors that would generate the code ... today, a simple HTML line and bang its there in the canvas. Hooking code to UI events its a trivial process. 10 years ago, just power web a simple web server one needed IIS or Apache on a dev machine. Today with simple code one has a server up and running with full debug capabilities using node. Heck, developers can program their server quickly. Developers can simply use the tool that better fit the problem domain.

            So yes, due to the above and much, I really hope MS charges away with PWAs, becoming a leader in the field, building on top of what it is built, rather than reinventing the wheel in their labs with minimal gains. It simply does not have the time of the past to do it.

            Windows ARM, sure. The challenge will be in proving that whatever the advantages it has outweighs the cost. Notice, if is to replicate Wintel on ARM, than the challenge is already lost. Also if the argument is simply ARM based PC are cheaper than Wintel than the argument is also already lost because it means ... there is not much $$ to be made. It cannot be that IMHO.

            It needs something else that actually takes advantage of ARM in ways inequivocal. It may be that thing of Surface Folio or whatever it is called ... don't know. Because in the end of the day, users don't care less if its Windows ARM or Wintel. What they care is what they can do with it. Yes, users can adopt the tech language to explain what they want based on what they heard. but there is a deeper meaning to their choices, in that the tech language is mostly a smoke screen and irrelevant. This is exposed in the end. It may take long but when it happens it happens very very quickly ... either its adopted on not. Unfortunately lately it has been mostly the second with Windows, and in the case where it is not, people are mostly being dragged over.

            One can argue that such is down to PC being really mature and a well built personal computing paradigm. Sure, yet there is a reason why the tech industry is pushing forward with different approaches and I feel it’s not due to stubbornness or just about new $$$.


      • Jeremy Petzold

        In reply to skane2600:

        x86 apps are not x86 drivers.

  23. mattbg

    It's not quite as bad as Windows 8 compiled for ARM (i.e. Surface non-Pro 1, 2, and 3) but is it significantly better?

    It seemed like a questionable proposition even if it did everything that Windows 10 on x86 did. With these limitations, I think it lands more firmly in the "interesting science experiment" category that Microsoft is normally satisfied with in areas where Apple wins out because they will not accept less than a viable end-user product.

    • jimchamplin

      In reply to mattbg:

      Most of these are only temporary limitations having to do with the fact that a lot of applications will run using x86 emulation. In the case of cloud storage apps, they often hook into the shell and filesystem, and emulated code isn't run in a way that can interact with the system in the required ways to make that work.

      Remember: Software that has been built for or recompiled for the AArch64 ISA will run identically to the x86/AMD64 version running on the matching hardware.

  24. pmeinl

    What is meant by "cloud storage apps"?

    Will DropBox and OneDrive work?

    And as I will never use cloud storage without end-to-end encryption, being able to run BoxCryptor is a must for me.

  25. wshwe

    Now that I know the limitations I won'e be buying a WOA laptop. Consumers will return WOA machines because they can't install printer drivers or iTunes. Any laptop I buy has to be able to work with my combination printer/scanner. It has to be able to run 64-bit software too. This is looking more and more like Windows 10 S all over again.

    • mrdrwest

      In reply to wshwe:

      A WOA device will be my brunch spot-media-solitaire-shopping-office-email-couch box. Microsoft and its partners need targeted peripheral support: The common stuff. Typical consumers aren't running 64-bit apps, but they do have weird and poorly supported peripherals.

      Heavy lifting will be handled by a native x86 box, the one that stays home or at the office and will run anything native or virtualized.

    • jimchamplin

      In reply to wshwe:

      It will run 64-bit AArch64 code, but will not translate AMD64 code, only x86.

  26. jaredthegeek

    So it works the same as an iPad really but with the Windows 10 experience. Running collaborative tools like Adobe Connect, etc will be important to me as I use them on the road a lot. The other concern is that I deal with networking and sometimes needs serial port access so if I can get that to work then I am happy. The other stuff I don't really care about. I thought I cared about the lack of 64 bit apps until I looked at what I have loaded and use day to day on my old Surface 3 LTE (4gb ram and 128 storage) and its pretty simplistic. Though I used a Windows RT unit and did not care. The only reason I did not stick with it was that ASUS loaded up an update that made the touchscreen stop working, on a touch screen based unit.

    Its a gen1 device so I assume it will only get better. Who am I kidding? This is MS, it can get much worse.

  27. rameshthanikodi

    All of this makes complete sense and is frankly to be expected. I wouldn't say it's a limitation at all, except for not being able to run 64-bit apps. But 64-bit computing is kinda new to ARM itself.

  28. redstar92

    these all seem expected and something I could deal with but of course I will be the first to be annoyed if something I use regularly does not work :) Wish there was some sort of an assistant that can look at your current PC setup and see if there are apps, drivers, etc.. that could give ARM device trouble.

  29. arunphilip

    Some of these limitations (no Hyper-V, no H/W OpenGL, no x64) make me wonder if this edition of Windows is actually running Hyper-V or some such virtualization layer.

    • arunphilip

      In reply to arunphilip:

      To clarify what I was saying... - I suspect that this edition of Windows is already using the hardware virtualization built into ARM (yes, ARM has hardware extensions for virtualization, see which indicates that even the positively ancient A7 had it) to enable x86 compatibility, and that is the reason why it cannot be exposed via Hyper-V. And as MikeCerm stated, introducing a general hypervisor layer like Hyper-V will require significant engineering effort for little return, which is why its not been done (at least not in this initial version).

    • MikeCerm

      In reply to arunphilip:

      Hyper-V specifically requires virtualization support in x86 CPUs (e.g., VT-x and AMD-V). Other hypervisors like VirtualBox can run without those, but Hyper-V cannot. Hyper-V could be made to run on ARM I'm sure, and maybe it will eventually, but that's not exactly a high-priority feature for a class of low-powered mobile devices. If you want to run VMs, a much cheaper, much more powerful x86 system is the way to go.

      • Waethorn

        In reply to MikeCerm:

        They'll never make Hyper-V for ARM. ARM is for client devices. It has no place in server or high-end business workstation scenarios that warrant the R&D to port Hyper-V over to a completely new architecture for Microsoft.

        • evancox10

          In reply to Waethorn:

          I agree that what you're saying is true right now and for the immediate future, but I wouldn't say never. Lots of companies are trying to push ARM up-market, especially on the server side. The landscape could be very different in ~5 years.

  30. jimchamplin

    ARM doesn’t have any dedicated virtualization technology in the CPU, right? Without VM extensions in hardware, Hyper-V would be pretty slow and janky. Not surprising that they left it out.

  31. bdollerup

    It shouldn't surprise anyone that x64 apps doesn't work on an x86 WoW (Windows on Windows) thunking "layer". Neither should the lack of support for hyper-V. To jimchamplin's point. The hardware support necessary to make virtualization work just isn't in the snapdragons. It seems that the initial target for the potential users if these laptops is completely forgotten by Paul et al.

  32. skane2600

    I'm not even sure that Microsoft remembers why they went down this road in the first place. IMO, the likely best case scenario is a zero-sum result - a few people will buy devices with ARM-emulated Windows who otherwise would be buying Intel-based Windows while the number of Windows licenses sold will not change significantly.

    • PeteB

      In reply to skane2600: I'm not even sure that Microsoft remembers why they went down this road in the first place.

      You just bottomlined the entire post-7, Metro era of Fisher-Price tiled, mobile identity crisis suck.

  33. Jules Wombat

    So as many of have stated here many times before, this is just a Windows RT rehash.

    No obvious Use Case.

    • jimchamplin

      In reply to Jules_Wombat:

      No. It’s not. It’s Windows 10 compiled to run on AArch64 with an additional binary translation layer for x86 Win32 code. Probably the same tech originally designed for Windows on Itanium, or closely related.

      • Jules Wombat

        In reply to jimchamplin:

        Yeah I know its an emulation but the Use case for this is what ?

        A subset emulation of Win 32 (Note my Nokia 2520 runs subset of Full Office, and Windows Explorer) is still a compromise that most consumers and business will discover and complain about, and hence failure, just like Windows RT. Hence my Point, its Windows RT all over again. Without sufficient Marketing, Branding, Pricing or an Obvious Use Case its a pointless proposition.

        • jimchamplin

          In reply to Jules_Wombat:

          It’s going to be more than sufficient for a large enough cross-section of software that it will be pretty simple for normies to continue to know nothing about how their computer works.

        • Stooks

          In reply to Jules_Wombat:

          I agree there is no use case. Why have we not seen benchmarks of emulated software yet? I have read in forums that those who have seen them say they are NOT good. Maybe that is not true?

          The best case scenario for these devices is NATIVE Windows 10 ARM apps. They will run better and then the ONLY real advantage of these devices "battery life" will sell it.

          How well has Microsoft been able to get developers to natively support their Windows on ARM OS'es........not well at all. How will this time be different? Will PWA's save the day??? PWA's allow users to ditch Windows all together.

          Without native apps you will have limited support for some Win32 apps running via emulation which is NEVER a great experience.


    • hrlngrv

      In reply to Jules_Wombat:

      Windows RT couldn't install or run 32-bit WinTel software. Windows for ARM seems to be able to. What remains undetermined are the amount of such software it'll handle and how well or poorly it runs.

  34. glenn8878

    So the hype about ARM being the future is a work in progress to be charitable. It’s a no go until 64 bit compatibility. The other stuff matters little. Another reminder that Microsoft doesn’t know what it’s doing with new platforms. Just over promise and never deliver.

  35. hrlngrv

    I'm having the hardest time trying to figure out why Windows for ARM can't handle cloud storage apps. Are there no cloud storage apps for ARM-based phones? Or do most cloud storage Win32 apps include driver-like layers?

    • jimchamplin

      In reply to hrlngrv:

      It's due to the fact that they all use hooks into Explorer and possibly the filesystem for syncing. Emulated code wouldn't be able to interact with the native code, so no joy.

      But if those applications are recompiled for AArch64, then they'll work just fine.

      • evox81

        In reply to jimchamplin:

        Thank you for posting this repeatedly. (Like seriously, thank you.) I'm not sure why that was the one piece of the article that everyone freaked out about, but it clearly struck a nerve.

  36. hrlngrv

    Hardware drivers work just above the OS kernel, so not surprising they'd need to be built specifically for ARM processors. OTOH, not like Windows 10 S. Windows 10 S won't install them, but they'd work if they could be installed. Windows for ARM may or may not be able to install them, but they couldn't work if installed.

    Lack of Hyper-V also not surprising. Intel/AMD have virtualization facilities built into their processors. Does even the latest generation of ARM processors? If not, but it'll be coming, who'd want to be guinea pigs with the first generation or two? This may mean reliable virtualization is quite a few years away.

    Remains to be seen just how well ARM-based machines handle all the old 32-bit software still being used on many home PCs.

  37. evancox10

    Porting a "modern" application written in portable, high-level code (that is, C or C++) from x86 to ARM is sometimes as simple as a recompile. It's a much, much smaller barrier than, say, porting from x86 win32 to x86 UWP. So it's possible that native versions of these unsupported apps show up relatively quickly.

    And if an app is recent enough to actually support 64-bit, going from x86 to ARM will be a non-issue.

    I'll admit this may not be so simple for drivers. I know relatively little about how tightly coupled Windows drivers are to the underlying architecture, how much is written in assembly, etc.

    Also, DirectX9 goes back to *2002* and Windows 98. That is a hugeeee range of support, far more than I would have expected.

    A couple questions:

    Do we know if 32-bit native ARM code (AArch32) will run? You say drivers must be 64-bit ("ARM64"), but is that true for user-land apps too?

    Will the legacy .NET frameworks be available? If so, will they be native or emulated? And will the JIT support compilation to native code? What about .NET core?

    Last, to anyone surprised that Hyper-V is not available, I agree with others that you were delusional if you thought it would be. Hint: if you even know what Hyper-V is, you are not the target market for this. At least not initially.

  38. ncn

    In the long run ... probably not an issue because of progressive web apps.

  39. Bdsrev

    For many, Window on ARM just isn't worth it because late this year Intel's 10nm chips will be out, which also support LPDDR4 for the first time, battery life should be significantly better than current 14nm/LPDDR3 devices.

  40. SvenJ

    Not surprising. These aren't intended for people needing workstations, development, giant spreadsheets, gonzo Project files, etc. 64bit is really overrated for what most people do. Even the Office most people install is 32bit. Who thought they were going to run VMs on an ARM device? Maybe Gameboy emulation, but if you were planning on dragging out Small Business Server and running it in a VM on this, you were delusional.

    Only seeming issue might be some of the drivers. If you have some oddball hardware that requires you to load drivers that aren't already supported, that's an issue. I expect the built in mainstream support is pretty broad.

    No, this is not Win10S again. Most everything that 'normal' people, for whom this is designed, is available in 32bit. You aren't limited to the store.

  41. warren

    It sounds like Windows 10 + ARM would be good for point-of-sale, kiosk, in-store tablet, etc. devices where the flexibility of full Windows development options is very useful, but the full desktop experience is not.

    In other words, here's a new low-power platform for the next generation of Windows 10 IoT Core.

    • Winner

      In reply to warren:

      You mean like all of the I-devices that are alreay Point of Sale and well established...

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to warren:

      Re in-store tablets, that's a market segment where Android tablets have done fairly well. For years. Newcomer Windows ARM tablets may be a rather hard sell. Also, would ARM tablets get as good battery life running x86 software in emulation as it would running software built specifically for ARM?

      • skane2600

        In reply to hrlngrv:

        I agree, but the simplistic nature of the apps required could probably be written for UWP without any disadvantage. Of course that would make x86 emulation irrelevant and still doesn't address why customers should switch if their Android solution is working for them.

    • skane2600

      In reply to warren:

      It might be relevant to tablets but point-of-sale and kiosk computers are usually not battery operated and you really wouldn't want them to be. So low-power isn't really all that useful in those scenarios.

      • Waethorn

        In reply to skane2600:

        What are you talking about?? The bulk of digital-signage systems are built around low-power systems. The vast majority are built on laptop chips or low-performance chips so that heat isn't a problem (it's a big issue for signage systems). You never see integrated digital signage systems using bulky desktop chips - those systems are reserved for massive-scale signage only. Some of them even just stream through a remote client, like a Chromebit.

        • Stooks

          In reply to Waethorn:

          Digital signage and POS systems of two completely different things.

          I work in retail. If you have to comply with PCI (US) at Merchant Level 1, 2 or 3 then you are not using mobile devices for POS. They are not compliant at this time.

          The iDevices and Android based POS devices are small business self governing Merchant Level 4 PCI stuff.

          POS retail is still a Windows world. Windows 7 embedded is probably the most popular right now. If you need stuff like scales/scanners and what not (grocery industry) then you need a PC with lots of powered USB ports.

          Sadly there is no Windows 10 embedded.

          Out side of the POS terminals EVERYTHING is Linux. From your Verifone/Vantif etc card readers to any and all handheld devices for scanning inventory etc it is all Linux/Android. 8 years ago Windows CE owned that world but now it is lost to the Linux/Android world. iOS has no real play here either.

          This new version of Windows, on ARM, will never be a player in the POS/Retail world.

        • skane2600

          In reply to Waethorn:

          When did the subject change to digital-signage systems? I said nothing about them.

  42. snapch23

    This is the way we get the movie maker windows 10 here so easily.