Windows on ARM Getting Support for 64-Bit ARM Apps (Updated)

HP Envy x2 (Qualcomm) Review Check-In: App Compatibility

Microsoft and its partners recently started shipping the first wave of Windows 10 devices powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 processors. These devices, powered by Windows 10 S, are capable of running ARM and x86 UWP applications as well as x86, ARM, and ARM64 classic desktop applications, thanks to Microsoft’s Windows on Windows compatibility layer.

Redmond is now working on officially supporting 64-bit (ARM64) apps on its Windows on ARM platform. Windows General Manager Erin Chapple reportedly told Engadget that the company is going to be releasing a new “SDK for ARM64 apps” that will allow developers to build 64-bit applications for Windows 10 devices powered by ARM processors, or recompile their existing apps for 64-bit. (This is not to be confused with 64-bit AMD64 support, which is not happening any time soon, if ever.)

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The company plans to release the new SDK this May at its Build 2018 developer conference.

UPDATE: Here’s a Microsoft statement addressing the confusion around this topic.

“To clarify, Microsoft is planning to release a preview of the Windows 10 ARM64 SDK for Store and desktop apps, allowing developers to recompile their Win32 desktop apps to ARM64 so they can run natively without emulation,” the Microsoft representative told me. “With the SDK, x64 apps and x86 apps will also be able to recompile to ARM64 and run natively. We will be sharing more details on the ARM64 SDK Preview at Build.”

Also, Paul has written a follow-up for developers that better explains what’s happening.

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Conversation 29 comments

  • MikeCerm

    05 April, 2018 - 6:00 pm

    <p>There's no such thing as "classic 64-bit desktop apps" on Windows. The vast majority of <em>legacy </em>Windows apps are 32-bit. Virtually all the 64-bit desktop apps that matter on Windows are apps that are currently maintained, available in both 32-bit and 64-bit flavors, and could probably be recompiled for ARM64 without too much effort. Certainly, if the developer cares about performance, delivering a native ARM64 build would be a lot better than relying on slow-as-molasses emulation.</p>

    • lvthunder

      Premium Member
      05 April, 2018 - 6:39 pm

      <blockquote><a href="#260059"><em>In reply to MikeCerm:</em></a></blockquote><p>Who gets to decide what apps "matter". I use some apps that matter to me that are 64 bit only.</p>

      • MikeCerm

        05 April, 2018 - 7:46 pm

        <blockquote><a href="#260063"><em>In reply to lvthunder:</em></a></blockquote><p>Name one — I'm genuinely curious, because I can't think of a single 64-bit-only app for Windows that isn't a driver or something hardware specific.</p>

        • skane2600

          05 April, 2018 - 8:45 pm

          <blockquote><a href="#260073"><em>In reply to MikeCerm:</em></a></blockquote><p>I'm not a gamer but here's a list of 64-bit only games (not all for Windows 10):</p&gt;

          • MikeCerm

            06 April, 2018 - 7:32 am

            <blockquote><a href="#260094"><em>In reply to skane2600:</em></a></blockquote><p>"I'm not a gamer but here's a list of 64-bit only games (not all for Windows 10):"</p><p><br></p><p>Presumably all of these games require more than 4GB of memory and/or desktop-class graphics to work, and if Chrome barely runs with 32-bit emulation, I can't image how slow games would run.</p><p><br></p><p>"You might end up waiting forever."</p><p><br></p><p>Yeah, maybe, but you can run the 32-bit version while you wait.</p>

            • skane2600

              06 April, 2018 - 10:41 am

              <blockquote><a href="#260159"><em>In reply to MikeCerm:</em></a></blockquote><p>The point is the inadequacy of Windows on ARM to run non-UWP legacy applications, if games require more resources than WoA emulation can provide, that's just further evidence of the inadequacy.</p><p><br></p><p>"Yeah, maybe, but you can run the 32-bit version while you wait."</p><p><br></p><p>It's not as if 64-bit is just a marketing term. If you need the additional capabiliites that a 64-bit version requires, 32-bit won't cut it.</p>

              • MikeCerm

                06 April, 2018 - 12:39 pm

                <blockquote><a href="#260203"><em>In reply to skane2600:</em></a></blockquote><p><br></p><p>"The point is the inadequacy of Windows on ARM to run non-UWP legacy applications"</p><p><br></p><p>WoA can run the vast majority of non-UWP legacy applications. It can't run current AAA games, or SQL Server, or CAD apps, or Adobe Premiere. You know what else can't run these things? Like, any thin-and-light laptop. The Snapdragon 835 has about as much power as an Apollo Lake Celeron, and it's meant for surfing the web and checking email. Complaining that it can't run Forza Horizon 3 is like complaining that you can't tow a boat with a roadster because there's nowhere to mount a hitch. But, even if you had a hitch, you still wouldn't want to tow a boat with a roadster.</p><p><br></p><p>"It's not as if 64-bit is just a marketing term. If you need the additional capabiliites that a 64-bit version requires, 32-bit won't cut it."</p><p><br></p><p>In practical terms, 64-bit means nothing but the ability to support more than 4GB of memory (which WoA already does), and there are some operations that can be done more efficiently than having to break them down into smaller 32-bit chunks. Who cares. Even if it did nominally support 64-bit apps through emulation, the Snapdragon 835 still wouldn't have enough power to do the kinds of things that you need a big desktop-class CPU (and GPU for). The performance penalty for emulating x86 is great enough that, for any of these high-performance tasks like gaming, video editing, or hosting enormous databases, you either need a CPU that can run the code natively, or you need the developers to deliver a version optimized for ARM64, which they'll soon be able to do.</p>

                • skane2600

                  06 April, 2018 - 1:48 pm

                  <blockquote><a href="#260246"><em>In reply to MikeCerm:</em></a></blockquote><p>Actually, there's not enough real-world experience with WoA to determine whether the "vast majority" of non-UWP legacy applications can run under emulation.</p><p><br></p><p>MS hasn't made any statements I'm aware of that suggest that WoA is exclusively intended for "thin-and-light laptop"s. It seems you just want to exclude any examples people provide that disproves your position.</p><p><br></p><p><br></p>

                • Waethorn

                  06 April, 2018 - 1:58 pm

                  <blockquote><a href="#260246"><em>In reply to MikeCerm:</em></a></blockquote><p>I have an Apollo Lake Celeron and I can tell you that you're flat out wrong. Even from the videos of Paul and Leo showing the HP system launching UWP apps, those same apps run markedly better on a Celeron. And the Celeron runs everything, including x64 apps, and supports full Windows 10, so it also supports Hyper-V and such. And this shiny new UFS 2.1 support in the Snapdragon 835 (is HP even utilizing that?) is supposed to be faster than SATA 6Gbps, yet Windows loads up faster on a pretty stock Crucial MX500 SATA SSD on the Celeron.</p>

        • dkb1898

          05 April, 2018 - 11:33 pm

          <blockquote><a href="#260073"><em>In reply to MikeCerm:</em></a></blockquote><p>SQL Server Management Studio</p>

          • skane2600

            06 April, 2018 - 1:49 am

            <blockquote><a href="#260108"><em>In reply to dkb1898:</em></a></blockquote><p>Yes. MS says: "Installation of SQL Server is supported on x64 processors only. It is no longer supported on x86 processors."</p><p><br></p>

          • KevinRohano

            06 April, 2018 - 4:26 am

            <blockquote><a href="#260108"><em>In reply to dkb1898:</em></a></blockquote><p>I don't think any WoA Device is right hardware for that.</p>

          • IanYates82

            Premium Member
            06 April, 2018 - 7:35 am

            <blockquote><a href="#260108"><em>In reply to dkb1898:</em></a></blockquote><p>This is a 32-bit app – uses Visual Studio hosting environment underneath.</p><p><br></p><p>SQL Server itself, since the 2016 release, is 64-bit only. The management tools are quite separate (not even included in the SQL ISO anymore).</p>

            • dkb1898

              14 April, 2018 - 7:03 pm

              <blockquote><a href="#260161"><em>In reply to IanYates82:</em></a></blockquote><p>Management Studio is now 64-Bit only as well</p>

              • IanYates82

                Premium Member
                28 April, 2018 - 7:15 am

                <blockquote><a href="#263014"><em>In reply to dkb1898:</em></a></blockquote><p>Wow – I did not know that. Just checked on my machine and, despite it ending up in program files (x86), it is indeed a 64-bit app. Googling around shows that too. Don't know how I missed that news.</p><p>Thanks for the info :)</p>

                • dkb1898

                  14 May, 2018 - 3:44 pm

                  <blockquote><a href="#266715"><em>In reply to IanYates82:</em></a></blockquote><blockquote><br></blockquote><blockquote><em>You're version may in fact be 32-Bit, it depends on what version you're running. Usually companies are a few SQL versions behind</em></blockquote><p><br></p>

    • Rafael Rivera

      Premium Member
      05 April, 2018 - 6:46 pm

      <blockquote><a href="#260059"><em>In reply to MikeCerm:</em></a></blockquote><p>Classic apps refer to non-UWP apps here. There are certainly classic 64-bit desktop apps, e.g. Photoshop. ARM32 apps are not emulated and should be the focus for most devs. Hope that helps.</p>

      • MikeCerm

        05 April, 2018 - 7:53 pm

        <blockquote><a href="#260067"><em>In reply to WithinRafael:</em></a></blockquote><p>Photoshop is available in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions, right? You don't need 64-bit emulation for Photoshop — if you want to run a slow version of Photoshop on WoA, you can just download the 32-bit version. If you want one that runs well, 64-bit emulation wouldn't help you. You'll have to wait for Adobe to release a native ARM64 build. In the meantime, use the 32-bit version. </p>

        • skane2600

          05 April, 2018 - 8:50 pm

          <blockquote><a href="#260076"><em>In reply to MikeCerm:</em></a></blockquote><p>"You'll have to wait for Adobe to release a native ARM64 build."</p><p><br></p><p>You might end up waiting forever.</p>

      • NT6.1

        07 April, 2018 - 4:59 pm

        <blockquote><a href="#260067"><em>In reply to WithinRafael:</em></a></blockquote><p><br></p><p>Stop trying to make UWP happen. It won't happen. These "modern" apps are available since 2012 with no success. At all. </p>

    • jamJAR

      06 April, 2018 - 6:52 am

      <blockquote><a href="#260059"><em>In reply to MikeCerm:</em></a></blockquote><p>SolidWorks current releases are 64 bit only.</p>

      • MikeCerm

        06 April, 2018 - 7:42 am

        <blockquote><a href="#260152"><em>In reply to jamJAR:</em></a></blockquote><p>"SolidWorks current releases are 64 bit only."</p><p><br></p><p>Fair enough, but you probably couldn't run it even if WoA did support 64-bit emulation. The performance would be terrible, and most WoA devices only have 4GB of memory, which doesn't meet the minimum requirements.</p><p><br></p>

  • BoItmanLives

    05 April, 2018 - 6:46 pm

    <p>Once again we watch MS just go through the motions of yet another bizarre and pointless product with no real use case or target market, that we know is going to be abandoned and internally probably already is. I bet WoA is barely a footnote at Build if it's even mentioned at all.</p><p><br></p><p>Why? With Myerson out on his ass and the windows division gutted, the new rank and file doesn't remember or care why the predecessors even went down this WoA road.</p>

  • Waethorn

    06 April, 2018 - 1:36 pm

    <p>So now that the performance of x86 apps is out of the bag, is there anybody still out there that doesn't believe that their early demo on a Snapdragon 820 is anything but a fake?</p>

  • per.steinar

    08 April, 2018 - 6:37 am

    <p>Wunder what is happening with Photos hop Elements on ARM, since they demoed it running on Windows 10 for ARM. </p>

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