Microsoft Demonstrates Windows 10 Running on ARM

Posted on December 8, 2016 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10 with 69 Comments

I’m excited for an ARM-based future for the PC. But if you’re not convinced it will work, this Microsoft demo video could help.

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Comments (69)

69 responses to “Microsoft Demonstrates Windows 10 Running on ARM”

  1. 209

    Meh, the real question is where do I get the Ninja Cat on Laser Tiger! :-p

  2. 4853

    That video that ran "really smoothly" looked very hitchey to me.

    • 5528

      In reply to paladintom:

      Indeed. I LOL'd everytime he said smooth. It's far from smooth on videos and in applications but it's also hardly awful. I'm sure this will get refined between now and 2018.

  3. 5234

    People are already pulling this demo apart.  Users with Core i7 systems with M.2 SSD's are saying that Photoshop doesn't load that fast.

    At the least, it's not an honest representation of performance.  I'm going to call it as I see it, at least for now: it's a fake.

    • 5611

      In reply to Waethorn:

      It's entirely possible that Photoshop had already been launched before, therefore a subsequent launch would always be much faster. That's no different to how it works now! Applications do load much faster second time round.

    • 622

      In reply to Waethorn:

      Cant compare high power sockets like i7 with ARM cores. They'll both be different calss of devices. These snapdragon devices will be replacing the old Atom devices on the lower end, but will include better performance than them + longer battery life + cellular connectivity.

      • 5234

        In reply to VasiS:

        The 820 is slower than Bay Trail on cross-platform benchmarks.  Bay Trail stomped on the Tegra 4, which was the fastest ARM chip at the time.  The 835 is already in production, which means it'll be almost 2 years old by the time systems ship (estimated timeframe for shipping systems will be 2018).

        Battery life goes out the window when you run emulation.

  4. 223

    I think this is damn cool! They waiting on moving Windows 10 to ARM until the success of Windows 10 as an OS was a given, thus avoiding the crater-like pitfall of Windows 8. I really want to see this in action, because the next step after this could be a phone interface directly embedded in the OS like the tablet interface is. Thus, Continuum becomes unnecessary as the whole OS is multi-hardware-type compatible. Very cool!!!


  5. 5486

    Impressive as it is technologically (more x86 emulation on ARM than anything - assuming it is emulation, and not based on App-V), MS have lost the consumer space, and show no signs of regaining any consumer trust. Latest Q3 usage figures for WM are at 0.4% and falling! Enterprises are also moving away from WM, so is this just too little too late? MS couldn't wait for Intel to pull their fingers out and get back into x86 mobile, so MS take the alternative route and port full Win10 to ARM. It's an interesting move, but I just don't see it making any real difference anymore.

  6. 5783

    I'm heartened by this news. Hopeful for the future - good news has been rare lately.

    But I'm concerned that it's still too late. So yay - I could ditch my x86 and move to an ARM laptop\tablet\phone (eventually) running Windows 10. At the very least I'll potentially save battery power.

    But it doesn't do anything to reduce the app gap. Let's say I get an ARM tablet running Win10 in my car. I want to navigate using Waze. Oops - not on the Windows store. Maybe I could run Bluestacks (or something else) under emulation in order to emulate Android...... (not being serious). And Waze is just one of many apps I now use after switching to Android that just don't exist on the full windows store. 

    But I guess we'll see.

    • 6323

      In reply to yaddamaster:

      does Waze encourage the use of mobile phones while you drive. I use maps on my 535.

      • 5539

        In reply to JC: Not sure of your point. You clearly use a map/navy app on your phone while you drive. That's what Waze is. It adds one benefit that if I'm using Waze, and going 25mph in a 75mph zone, the system uploads that and makes it available to other drivers in the vicinity in near real time. When I pass the accident that is causing the slowdown, I can, if I choose, just tap the accident icon, adding that to the system data. It is crowd sourced traffic info, but really doesn't require the user to participate actively. I'm a windows phone user and like Maps, but Google maps with Waze integration is just better.


  7. 2592

    The Verge had posted a good article on how MS can differentiate the Surface Pro and Surface Book line as result of porting Windows 10 to ARM

    "I could easily envision a product lineup split between the Surface Pro for mobile professionals running on ARM processors and the Surface Book for those with more powerful needs running on Intel’s latest chips."

  8. 473

    Surely the whole point is that we now can have ARM phones that can run Windows x86 applications.  Imagine that on a continuum capable Surface Phone.  The state of this makes me hopeful that they have a new Surface continuum phone that is about ready to ship!?

  9. 3229

    I want to see how some .NET framework apps distributed in IL (I think Paint.NET is a good example) work on this processor. I don't think any of the apps demonstrated here are .NET apps.

    • 5611

      In reply to inlocoabsentia:

      .NET Core already runs on ARM. It's open source and has recently been ported to ARM by Samsung because they want to use it with Tizen.

      This enables .NET devs to target Tizen ARM devices by using C# (and later VB too).

    • 442

      In reply to inlocoabsentia:

      I'm sure Photoshop is a special compiled version just for this demo too.  The World of Tanks I believe is the UUW version of the game, which is compiled to run on any supported processor.  In other words, I seriously doubt .NET will be supported on ARM.  .NET is going away.  New coding languages and practices pretty much make .NET very outdated and less attractive to newer developers.

      • 600

        In reply to Narg:

        Why wouldn't .Net run on ARM? Windows RT ran on ARM and rand Store apps in .net.

        Microsoft and their partners are expanding where .Net Runs. Plus if you forget about RT it compiles for ARM on Android and IOS. 

        .Net isn't going anywhere, in fact you'll be seeing more of it not less. 

      • 3229

        Isn't the whole value of this to enable backward compatibility with older programs?! If this isn't source code compatible with .NET framework apps, how is this useful in any way for legacy apps? UWP is already a good platform for modern app development. Very few people should be writing new apps in C++ that aren't games, because you probably don't need that much power in exchange for all the dangers and hassle of writing native code.

      • 5611

        In reply to Narg:

        .NET Core is open source and already runs on ARM. Samsung ported it so that they could use it on Tizen.

        What is outdated is your understanding of .NET because .NET Core is the future of .NET and is very attractive to developers.

  10. 5496

    Basically an updated version of Windows RT.

    • 5539

      In reply to lordbaal1:One way to look at it, but updated with what was the major complaint, it didn't run all my Windows apps. So I could still have my Lumia 2520, as light as my iPad, with comparable battery life, LTE connectivity, GPS, and it runs all my Windows apps. 


  11. 5530

    TBH, I now want Apple to ship a MacBook with their A10 chip just to see how that compares to Windows 10 on ARM.

  12. 1377

    ARM uses less power than Intel processors, but would that still be true emulating WinTel software? It would seem like magic if ARM could run WinTel software almost as fast as Intel with much less power usage. [So much so that it could mean the death of Intel.]

    Would the same hold true for floating-point-intensive software? I mean very general floating point where one operation could be quite different from the next rather than batched transforms.

  13. 1238

    wonder if Google will be happy this time, or just whine as always. They don't seem to care that they publish chrome as a uwp app

  14. 8497

    Is this emulation restricted to only 32-bit Windows applications (ie. not 64-bit programs)?


    • 5539

      In reply to chanms:They said, yes. But, most everything is available in 32 bit, even if there are 32 bit versions. 64 bit applications are not typically needed. It is more for memory addressing. MS doesn't even recommend their own 64 bit Office suite for most users, as it is overkill, and not as supported by third party add-ins. Those things you may need a 64 bit app version for are likely not things you would want to do on these devices. I don't think we are going to see ARM based CAD workstations any time soon.


  15. 5553

    Not much of a demo...

    More impressed by DJT !

  16. 5553

    Keep jobs in Redmond !?

  17. 2175

    Someone please explain how this benefits us normal folk

  18. 5396

    This is amazing and revolutionary feature as long as its actually implemented correctly/effectively which hasn't always been microsofts strong suit

  19. 6525

    In the demo running are Windows 10 Enterprise 64b, an x86 desktop software, Photoshop etc. For the latter, it is unclear whether it is a 64b binary. I'd really like to see a definite confirmation whether 64b Win32 desktop softwares can run.

  20. 124

    Finally GOOD news.

  21. 442

    Nice to see Microsoft finding ways to keep making Windows exciting.

  22. 8850

    Yikes that was super impressive, performance and speed in equal measure. Microsoft have made the right moves so far and taking windows 10 to ARM makes the future seem incredible exciting. 

  23. 5234

    More bullsh*t:

    They're running this on Photoshop CC 2014.


      • 5234

        In reply to WP7Mango:

        It's outdated.  CC includes free automatic upgrades.  They likely did this because it doesn't use some of the new processor and GPU instructions that the 2015 and 2017 versions do, and their emulation layer can't handle them.

        Also, Windows isn't activated.  You'd think they would have an activation for it for a public presentation.  That's pretty bad optics.


  24. 5234

    Here's a reality-check:

    • 5611

      In reply to Waethorn:

      No, that's not a reality check. It's just a rant by some clueless bell-end.

    • 5501

      In reply to Waethorn:

      What I'm wondering is if they'll be able to just make Windows "lighter" so that it can run on these kinds of chips without chewing up so much battery.  I mean, take the kernel for example.  My understanding is that the Windows kernel is not some huge, bloated, unoptimized mess.  It's actually very efficient.  You'd think that they'd be able to pull this off, to have an ARM SKU that still emulates x86 apps and doesn't include all the unnecessary cruft that is normally part of a typical desktop Windows installation.

      • 5234

        In reply to ErichK:

        The kernel is fine.  They've done some decent work at optimizing it.  It isn't Linux-efficient, but it's good compared to what it used to be.  The problem is with poorly-written drivers and API layers.  Adding a processor codebase emulation layer in there just makes things worse.

        • 5501

          In reply to Waethorn:

          Still, I'm wondering if it would be good enough for consumer apps.  Obviously most people won't be running multiple Photoshop and CAD instances on ARM machines.

  25. 8940


    I really like this news. I am even interested in a cheap battery friendly ARM Windows 10 device! It has many possibilies


    For some reason every windows phone obsessed website turns this PC news (MS clearly said this 2 times) again in the good news show for Windows Mobile.

    If the ARM PC's is the first hardware to support this will be released at the earliest end of 2017, begin 2018 it doesn't mean there is a "phone" variant anytime soon.

    Also apps need to be compatible with many screen sizes. For tablet this doens't pose a problem but most/all x86 windows program don't resize to phone sizes without major work.

    I read on WC for instance how there will be so many steam games on the phone now. For that steam need to have a mobile UI and most games needs some serious work. Many times games have different layouts on iPhone and iPad.

    So if devs are not going to be bothered to update some of their 5 year old games to support smaller screens it doesn't mean a thing for phone sized devices. 

    I do like the news and I am looking forward to see how it progresses. However claiming it as the next rescue attempt for phones (or small sized pc's) is a stretch too far.

    For business running win32 apps could be handy. But standard consumer long have moved on to apps and webapps. In fact steam games like Talisman, Smallworld 2, Ticket to Ride, Hitman GO, Ascension, 80 days, Sorcery, etc appeared first as iOS and Android apps before making the jump to PC screen on Steam. Same with stuff like Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, YouTube. You still use the browser: ARM or not.

    Sure there will be more old skool programs available but is that what we have been looking for? All that is coming, we have today. Only the hardware, battery, fan etc is way less efficient because of the CPU. This announcement solves that. I doesn't solve the UWP app problem by any means

    • 1377

      In reply to rufflow:

      It's pixels which matter, not the screen's diagonal length. As long as pixels are no fewer than 640x480 or whatever the 16:9 analog would be, Win32 apps should work though maybe not well.

      • 5539

        In reply to hrlngrv:On face value pixels might be significant, but in reality you still need to fix the UI and scale. You can see that easily using RDP into a PC from a hi-res phone. You can fit the entire desktop on the display and is clear as a bell, if using a magnifying glass, but virtually unusable.


  26. 5234



    They show this running on a Snapdragon 820.  I call BULLSH*T on this canned demo.  Or else someone is lying about the system specs/requirements.

    • 622

      In reply to Waethorn:

      This technology has been in development for sometime and is validated on existing silicon i.e. 82x. Production silicon 83x is only available next year which will provide better performance than what is demonstrated today with 82x.

      • 5234

        In reply to VasiS:

        Sooo....The Elite x3 will get this as an update?

        BTW: The Snapdragon 835 is already in production.  Production *systems* won't be built until 2017, but won't likely be ready until 2018.  That means a 2-year old chip is going into them.