Microsoft Reportedly Working on 64-bit App Emulation for Windows on ARM

Posted on November 13, 2019 by Mehedi Hassan in Windows, Windows 10 with 16 Comments

Microsoft’s Windows on ARM platform has been around for a little while now. And although there’s already a number of devices from multiple different OEMs running Windows on ARM, Microsoft only recently entered the market with its Surface Pro X.

The Surface Pro X showed that Microsoft is fully committed to Windows on ARM, and the company has also been hard at work getting more apps to work on Windows on ARM devices. The devices already support 32-bit apps via emulation, though that means that Windows on ARM devices can’t run apps that are only available on 64-bit. That could change soon, though.

Neowin reports that Microsoft is working on adding support for 64-bit apps on Windows on ARM. The company is apparently working on bringing x64 apps to Windows on ARM via emulation, though it’s not clear exactly when that will be available. The company would have to add support for 64-bit apps to its Windows on Windows abstraction layer that allows 32-bit x86 apps to run on ARM devices.

Microsoft could introduce support for 64-bit apps with Windows 10 21H1 sometime in the first half of 2021, but it’s all pretty uncertain for now. Considering the feature seems to be early in development, there’s also a lot of questions around how the emulation will actually work. Plus, there are also concerns around the emulated performance, which was one of the main reasons Microsoft didn’t make 64-bit emulation a thing on Windows on ARM in the first place. But considering the rate at which Qualcomm is upgrading its Snapdragon processors for Windows on ARM devices, the performance issues may no longer be a problem in the future.

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Comments (16)

16 responses to “Microsoft Reportedly Working on 64-bit App Emulation for Windows on ARM”

  1. glenn8878

    I wonder why this was leaked. Microsoft should stop leaking this information until it is ready. The problem with admitting it needs 64-bit emulation is iOS and Android already have them. There's no advantage to Windows on ARM anytime soon and this is all lost opportunity.

    • chrisltd

      In reply to glenn8878:

      iOS and Android don’t have 64 bit emulation.

      • glenn8878

        In reply to chrisltd:

        That’s because iOS and Android have apps.

        Microsoft is trying to solve a problem on the lack of apps, but no one will care because there isn’t enough x64 apps worth porting over to ARM.

        The point is it won’t happen until 2021 and that’s 2 years that people won’t buy it because of this leak. In the meantime, no native 64 bit ARM apps will be developed because everyone is waiting.

        LOSE-LOSE situation.

        • rm

          In reply to glenn8878:

          Wrong, Microsoft has thousands of UWP apps in the app store. They also have millions of Win32 apps developed commercially and within businesses for Win32 on Intel. They already natively support 64-bit apps on ARM that are compiled for ARM processors. They are just adding emulation for the older Win32 64-bit apps that not be recompiled for ARM. This is smart, but when these apps are put on devices running on emulation and they are slow, it will cause support issues and bad reviews until they decide to recompile their apps for ARM.

          • glenn8878

            In reply to RM:

            Is this true? Even Paul admits there isn't much UWP apps or any apps. The Microsoft store is a waste land of useless apps and apps that are hardly ever updated and supported. Apps are useful in the context of mobile. Windows is not mobile. This emulation is about getting whatever they can on the Windows on ARM even if it doesn't much help. It will prove to be a failure.

            "until they decide to recompile their apps for ARM." THEY NEVER WILL. Why waste any energy supporting Windows as a mobile platform? It'll never happen. Those "thousands of UWP apps" are already declared obsolete. UWP is dead. They aren't even compatible on ARM since Windows Mobile was closed down years ago. The apps in Microsoft Store are a mismash of technologies. Someone has to clean house and categorize these apps.

            • wp7mango

              In reply to glenn8878:

              UWP compatibility with ARM has nothing to do with Windows Mobile.

              Who cares what the technologies are - every app tells you what device is supported, so you don't need to know what technology it is.

    • wp7mango

      In reply to glenn8878:

      Windows on ARM already supports 64 bit apps which run natively, just like iOS and Android does.

      But for emulation, only 32 bit apps are currently supported. Hence why 64 bit emulation support is being added. As mentioned already, iOS does not have emulation support, which is why you can't run MacOS applications on iOS.

    • lvthunder

      In reply to glenn8878:

      And how do you stop the leaks? I'm sure Apple, Google, Microsoft, and the US government would like to know.

  2. Winner

    Who would've thought it, seven years after Windows RT?

    It's an amazing concept.

    No need to rush now.

  3. Pommster

    I guess we need to say 64-bit x86 (aka x64) apps. I believe it can already run 64-bit apps compiled for ARM?

  4. siv

    They really need to get this working or Windows on Arm will end up like Windows RT a bit of a non-starter.

  5. IanYates82

    I don't have access to such a device.

    Can you or Brad please post screenshots of some things like task manager and the basic file system?

    Do we get a program files, and a program files (x86)? If so, then I reckon part of their worry is that so many 64 bit Intel apps would assume their rightful place is "program files" rather than some imaginary "program files (x64-x86)". Microsoft is good at shimming these things though.

    Does task manager indicate if an app is WoW or not? (it used to, with a little *32 after the exe name in the details tab, but I don't think it does anymore)

    Is there a system 32 and a syswow64 folder in the windows folder?

    Inquiring minds would like to know. Thanks!

  6. kshsystems

    i am glad that Microsoft is working to make Edge available on ARM64, but releasing this product without having the inbox apps recompiled for native arm64 makes this feel like an incomplete solution at best.

    shouldn't this be obvious to Microsoft?

  7. smidgerine

    This is somewhat of a dumb comment that I'm about to make...but for my use case, the SPX is great.

    I had an iPad Pro that I basically just used for web surfing. I'm not a big app person. But, my eyes stink so I got the big screen 12.9. But, some of my school's websites didn't work well on Safari, and iOS 13 just made the whole iPad experience worse, so I took it back. The SPX has old Edge, but it really does work fine for me. I'm glad they're letting me install the canary ARM version which I haven't done yet. I have that on my office PCs already, so I think that I will like the SPX even better.

    I'm pleased with the device. Great screen. Great performance in the web browser. Most of my generic stuff is in Office and it's good enough for that. And it's really better for me to hold in portrait view than the iPad Pro was. Yes, it's expensive, but I paid the same price as the iPad Pro 12.9. I didn't get the keyboard or pen as my use case doesn't really need it. If I need a keyboard I have a zillion bluetooth ones.