Windows 10 Mobile is Coming to ARM64 and Intel x86

Posted on January 16, 2016 by Paul Thurrott in Windows Phones, Windows 10 with 0 Comments

Windows 10 Mobile is Coming to ARM64 and Intel x86

Recent job postings have confirmed that Microsoft is porting Windows 10 Mobile—which currently runs on 32-bit ARM chips only—to ARM64 and, more dramatically, to Intel x86. But it’s at all clear what types of products are expected.

And I should be clear, this isn’t just about phones, though I don’t expect to see ARM-based Windows 10 PCs. We also know that Microsoft is working on Windows 10 IoT and Windows Server 2016 on ARM64 (in the latter case for nanoservers aimed at the cloud, where power management is more important than raw processing.)

The best evidence of the ARM64 stuff comes courtesy of Walking Cat on Twitter, who recently tweeted a link to an interesting job posting at Microsoft. Here are the pertinent bits:

Windows across all device categories is readying for the introduction of 64-bit computing with the ARM instruction set.

The plan for ARM64 [will be] aligned with the Redstone wave [of Windows 10, which we currently believe is on track for a mid-2016 release].

As for Windows 10 Mobile x86, e.g. a version of Windows 10 Mobile that runs on Intel, rather than ARM, chips, this is mentioned in a Microsoft Hardware Dev Center page, which puts Windows 10 Mobile x86 alongside Windows 10 Mobile ARM and Windows 10 Mobile ARM64.

Some will naturally conjecture that Windows 10 Mobile x86 “proves” that a presumed Intel-based “Surface phone” is real. But that is not the case.

As I’ve written in the past, Surface phone is real: I have this on authority from several sources in the known. But it is perhaps important that none of these sources has ever told me that Surface phone will be—should it actually ship—an Intel-based device.

Regardless, one might imagine Windows 10 Mobile being used in mini-tablets instead of any of the “Windows 10 for desktop editions,” as Microsoft calls them. That’s because Windows 10 Mobile, unlike the desktop variants, is entirely touch-based and is better suited for such devices. (Assuming of course, you don’t want to contort a handful of desktop apps to the small screens of such devices.)

I certainly wouldn’t draw any conclusion about this work being a continuation of Windows RT. Windows 10 Mobile is a much more viable system than Windows RT, and one that addresses actual market needs rather than a fanciful “need” for Microsoft to push Big Windows onto tiny devices.

Anyway. There is a lot of speculation but little hard info. But Windows 10 Mobile is indeed being ported to ARM64 (no surprise there) and x86. And I’m curious to see how that works out in real products.


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