Microsoft Opens Its Store to 64-Bit ARM Apps

Posted on November 16, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in Dev, Windows 10 with 17 Comments

While this won’t suddenly make Windows 10 on ARM a viable platform, it’s a small step in the right direction. This week, Microsoft officially opened up its online apps store to 64-bit ARM app submissions from developers.

“Today is an exciting day for Windows 10 on ARM,” Microsoft’s Marc Sweetgall announced. “With the official release of Visual Studio 15.9, developers now have the officially supported SDK and tools for creating 64-bit ARM (ARM64) apps. In addition, the Microsoft Store is now officially accepting submissions for apps built for the ARM64 architecture.”

As you may recall, Windows 10 on ARM came thudding out of the gate with a number of issues: The performance of the platform is terrible, especially with traditional desktop applications, which need to run under emulation. The compatibility is terrible, as ARM-based PCs cannot run 64-bit Intel-style (x64) applications, nor can it utilize the millions of peripheral drivers out in the world. And it was limited, at launch, to 32-bit apps, even for those Store apps that were natively compiled to ARM.

Microsoft hasn’t solved those first two problems, and they are showstoppers. But it has solved the third, more minor issue of 64-bit ARM apps. And that means that those developers who do choose to target the ARM platform when they create Microsoft Store apps can take better advantage of the underlying hardware. For the few ARM-based PC users out in the world.

(While the definition of “Store apps” has evolved a lot over the years, in this case, it means Universal Windows Platform, or UWP, apps. But developers can also write C++ Win32 and .NET apps and make them available online themselves.)

“Running natively allows applications to take full advantage of the processing power and capabilities of Windows 10 on ARM devices, resulting in the best possible experience for users,” Sweetgall says. “We can’t wait to see what amazing experiences developers can produce using Visual Studio 15.9.”

Don’t expect to see a tsunami of new ARM apps because of this. But any developer that has gone to the trouble of compiling to ARM in Store apps can likewise do so with ARM64 fairly effortlessly. And if I understand the platform correctly, that means that the 64-bit version of a given app will be what users get automatically when they download them from the Store. There’s no downside to this. It’s just not going to impact many people.


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