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Microsoft sneaks in upcoming 64-bit Windows 10 Mobile mention in Dave Cutler feature

Microsoft very quietly confirmed in an unrelated feature article that it plans to release a 64-bit version of Windows 10 Mobile for future smartphones. The current build is only the 32-bit version of the OS.

The mention was buried in an extensive feature posted today on 74-year-old Microsoft Senior Technical Fellow Dave Cutler (opens in new tab), who is being honored on April 16 as a Computer History Museum Fellow for his work in the computing industry in general and Microsoft in particular.

In the story, it mentions Culter's work on working to make a 64-bit version of Windows, and the end of the paragraph has the sneak reveal:

In March 2005, he completed one of his "most gratifying pieces of work" at Microsoft when, partnering with AMD, he helped develop the AMD64 architecture (64-bit extensions to the 32-bit x86 architecture) and led the effort to ship the first two x64 64-bit Windows systems (workstation and server). At the time, some questioned why Microsoft developed a 64-bit system; today most computers are 64-bit systems and even our phones will soon have a 64-bit operating system.

The benefits of using a 64-bit OS over a 32-bit one include the ability to have more than 4GB of RAM, better parallel processing, faster bus architecture/app speeds, buffer overflow protection, data execution protection, and Microsoft Patch Guard technology. Those features don't do too much for regular consumers, but they are considered mandatory for enterprise and business environments.

Currently, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 808, 810 and 820 chipsets are64-bit based and fulfill the other half of the 64-bit equation namely the hardware. However, it is not probable that current phones will be able to upgrade from 32-bit to 64-bit for the same reason that you cannot do so on a PC either (at least not directly). Instead, newer hardware down the road will have to feature a 64-bit processor and the 64-bit Windows 10 Mobile OS. All eyes will be on whatever Microsoft releases next year for their alleged Surface Phone.

It's likely that the 64-bit version of Windows 10 Mobile will be released as part of the big Windows 10 Anniversary Update later this year.

108 Comments
  • Interesting how this will impact apps and app developers. Posted from Windows Central app, Built for Windows 10.
  • Zero impact. UWP apps are mostly 32/64-bit agnostic.
  • I'm not sure if it will have zero impact. This may not have anything to do with apps. Then again, it may also be so someone can build a phone with a ton of RAM just because some people only look at hardware numbers and thing the highest is the best.
  • It is usually true.  Especially if you plan to run Win32 apps in the future.  Some of the heavy duty ones do require large RAM.
  • just watch some OEM come out with a phone that has 8GB RAM or even 16GB RAM Posted via Universal Windows App on W10
  • You know it's only a matter of time.
  • If you're aiming for an enthusiast pocket pc that runs full windows in continuum.... *smirk* Maybe she's born with it, maybe it's Lumia 950xl
  • Technically more is better, assuming the same price. That's why I constantly bash Apple. While everyone else has 3 or 4GB of DDR4 RAM, Apple has 2. Same idea with the 16GB of storage, low resolution/pixel density IPS panel, tiny battery, no OIS, etc. All for the price of $650, kept the same for an entire year. That equates to cheap component costs and highest profit. In summary, the most overpriced general consumer phone on the market. I understand the general population doesn't know or care, but I personally do.
  • Yes, technically. But you know if you have a phone with 4gb, and one with 16gb, the 16gb one will skyrocket in price and the numbers goons will claim their 16gb is soooo much better even thought the device never utilizes even half that much RAM.
  • That's true. I see it as more of a value issue, where better specs for the same price is "better," regardless of actual functionality. 2K>1080p, 64GB>32GB, etc. Sure, we probably can't tell the difference between 2K and 1080p, and I personally don't use anywhere near 64GB of storage, but it's good to know that I'm getting the best currently out there for the price.
  • Lol. Of course the app needs to be compiled for 64bit/Aarch64. That is not possible with the current toolchain, so any UWP app existing today will never run in 64 bit mode.
  • I dont think it would affect the devs.. The beauty of .NET, C# and UWP is that the same code scales to a 64bit windows PC and 32bit mobile. Unless obvio there is some 64bit intensive processing that 32 just cant handle but that would break the whole thing that UWP stands for so.. that.
  • You do mix things up here. If .Net/CLI is the target, you have runtime translation...fine. However if you use C++ you habe compile time translation. UWP is not restricted to CLI. In fact i assume most of the more demanding games are all C++ while still beeing UWP.  
  • I use C++, lot easier than C#. Sent from pichke materine ;)
  • It might have massive impact. It's all down to the application.
    If you try to develop resource intensive app with high performance, then 64 bit is must.
    This is huge announcement for W10 mobile!!!
  • Sorry what is the technical limitation of updating to 64-bit on hardware that supports it? It's as simple as installing the 64-bit version, as would be on a PC.
  • I guess it's the mandatory wipe of the phone, as well as a possibility of not being able to restore AND how previous apps were written, that would be the issue
  • Oh no doubt it would have to be a clean install and can't restore any backup. But It should allow users to take that route. To sell hardware for almost $1k and not give the option (950xl) would seem silly.
  • You're rounding up by about 50% of the cost of the device. There wouldn't really be any perceptible benefit to the end user by switching to a 64-bit OS unless you also somehow upgraded the RAM, so it seems pretty unlikely that they'd bother doing it.
  • The Lumia 950XL costs almost $1000 in Canada and UK Posted via Universal Windows App on W10
  • The 950xl is 450 Pounds at amazon.co.uk and that is nowhere near $1k. I'm sure it's also true for Canada.
  • At the British site of expansys.com the 950 XL costs 490 Pounds. That's closer to $1K but still a long way off
  • ha, mine was 480 usd
  • Sure there would be. The additional registers that are currently not being used by the cpu, better predictive caching, I can keep going. It's not just about ram. And in Canada with extra warranty it's over 1k. Maybe she's born with it, maybe it's Lumia 950xl
  • Maybe they will let people use the Windows recovery tool to flash the 64bit OS after a backup and then restore the apps n files..
  • As long as their phones support 64x. I think the only phones with even the slightest chance to be able to run 64x would be lumia950 and 950XL. (even then I don't have that phone and forgot it's specs, so someone would have to confirm if 950 and/or xl have one of the supported Qualcomm 8x). Other current windows phones haven't got the processors to run 64x so wouldn't have a chance :p (I wasn't including third-party OEM phones, as I have no experience or knowledge in them, I'm just talking about current Lumia phones :p) +640 on Windows10Mobile
  • Microsoft Lumia 950XL has Snapdragon 810 and Lumia 950 has Snapdragon 808, and both the processors are 64 bit and also support 64 bit OS.
  • Well like I said, I had a feeling they supported it however couldn't confirm it myself as I have no proper knowledge of the exact specs of Lumia 950 it xl. However it also depends on how much RAM the phone has. The ram can't be changed in phones sadly, and for the phone to support 64x, it will have to have a minimum of 4GB of RAM, which I don't think the 950 or XL have(?). So unfortunately even with the 950 and XL's good specs, I can't see it being possible for it to be upgradable to 64x OS even if there was the OS to do so. Although it makes sense to make the first 64x Microsoft phone, also the first alleged Surface Phone (or whatever branding they end up using for it :p). A new generation of specs for a new Microsoft phone brand. +640 on Windows10Mobile
  • You don't need minimum of 4GB of RAM to use 64-bit OS. Apple and Android have been doing 64-bit for a couple of years now, almost no phones even have 4GB. 64-bit just allows you to use more than 4GB, which is not available on 32-bit. But it is by no means necessary.
    Would be cool to give the surface phone 6GB of RAM or something though.
  • Scroll down a bit and read my other comment ;p +640 on Windows10Mobile
  • Just read it ;D
  • Very hard to tell who's who and what comments are replying to what on the Windows 10 Windows Central App
  • Ahaha yeah it is. Yeah I'm not like *some* (ik a lot of people can just admit fault) people on here who just love to argue :) I admit I'm wrong, it was a small misunderstanding :) oh well. Can't see why some people on other arguments (on other articles) can't just do the same most times and admit fault XD +640 on Windows10Mobile
  • You should see the android central comment sections XD
  • Very true but remember that you cannot install a 64-bit Windows if your motherboard/system doesn't support it.
    Let's say the phone do support the 64-bit, you can't increase the ram size(if possible) on the phone unless you purchase extra rams(if it had same feature like a desktop pc). I think the next 64-bit phone will have variety of hardware selection that suits customers demand. All now is just a theory....
  • For phones that do support it, I would like to use 64 bit anyway because x64 operating systems generally offer better performance and memory management (even without having to upgrade the RAM). Yes, it seems unlikely as an OTA update will be hard to deliver. A phone will have to be completely wiped and flashed, an option they will likely not offer to avoid fragmentation. I wish though that they figure out a workaround.
  • I wish that the new Windows phones that were released since Nov2015 would have the 64-bit OS. I'm looking at the Lumia 950, Lumia 950XL, HP Elite x3, etc. Posted via Universal Windows App on W10
  • I don't think 950 or XL has the correct RAM to be able to support x64 unfortunately. It needs 4GB of RAM minimum along with the supported processor (Ik now thanks to @karanstyle that 950 does have the correct processor) +640 on Windows10Mobile
  • That's not true. One of the advantages of x64 over 32-bit is support for RAM greater than 4 GB, but it is not ​a requirement. From the Windows 10 system requirements page:
    RAM: 1 gigabyte (GB) for 32-bit or 2 GB for 64-bit
    ​Only 2 GB of RAM is required for Windows 10 x64 to run on desktops. Also, iPhones since iPhone 5S (I believe) have been ARM64 and they had only 1 GB of RAM.
  • However this is for windows 10 PC. It doesn't run the same hardware as mobile and will depend on different requirements. However I'm not saying you are completely wrong. There is a 50/50% chance you're correct and if so, I'm not gunna be like some people and try use any excuse under the sun to make myself look better. Although one point I will say, (it's merely speculation but could be hold as a valid point), is that even though iOS runs well on 64x on 1GB, it isn't updated in the same way. Microsoft will be adding mew features to windows 10 mobile continuously, which will eventually build up how much the OS is resource hungry. With less than 4GB of RAM, the overall lifespan of the phone will drastically drop as the (64x) OS becomes more built up. It really doesn't make sense to update it unless they find a good solution to reduce how much Virtual memory is used without removing features for the certain phone or reducing quality of the features. That being said though. This is (mostly) speculation, and if it eventually turns out 950 and XL can upgrade to 64x OS, then hey, congrats to them. Wouldn't bother me in the slightest (however we all know there will be an unfortunate good amount of people complaining that their Lumia 550 or 650 couldn't upgrade to 64x despite the phone being new.) Also if it turns out you are correct about the minimum RAM being less than 4GB, then I won't argue with it. No point arguing a lost argument over an article ;) ) +640 on Windows10Mobile
  • Technically you can run on 3gb, it would just waste more memory with larger pointers/ address space. Maybe she's born with it, maybe it's Lumia 950xl
  • Yes, but the 950xl does support it. The SOC supports it. The point is that it has to be a clean install no doubt, but they need to allow that option.
  • But its the question of if they can rewrite the needed fw or is it like wp7 where say the loader is non-rewriteable
  • drivers /firmware issue,, plus one can't update from x32 to x64 system, even on PC, you have to we out eveything on the device and boot into bios / UEFI and load the OS onto the device/computer, which not likely will be open to consumers or regular level of developers.
  • I understand why a direct upgrade to x64 is not possible. But I'd be willing to flash my phone with an x64 build, and any potential firmeware upgrades to make it work (Lumia 950 XL). That said, I agree that it isn't likely to happen.
  • 64 bit is more resource hunger particularly RAM. So less than 4gb RAM is not good option. Sent from Windows Central for Windows 10 Mobile
  • That's not entirely true. 64-bit systems, while use more memory, also have better management. Unused RAM is wasted RAM anyway. Look at iOS. A completely 64-bit OS and it performs excellently on the latest iPhone with 1 GB of RAM.
  • Its a bitter truth that iOS is the best optimized smartphone OS among the major three.
  • Not so surprising, they only support like 3-4 different hardware versions compared to Windows. Its hard to optimize for every device when you're supporting like a lot of devices.
  • The latest iPhones have 2 GB of memory +950 XL DS NAM CV Windows 10 Mobile
  • But still works better/faster than L950/XL
  • Oh, no argument from me there. I've made it clear to many people I'm very pro Microsoft, and pro Apple. They both have strengths and weaknesses. Apple is efficient, down to the last byte.
  • It seems likely that it'd be "possible" with the Windows Device Recovery Tool, but probably less likely that Microsoft would bother to actually create 64-bit images for existing devices since there'd be no real benefit if you didn't also have more than 4GB of RAM, which you obviously wouldn't for a device that shipped with a 32-bit OS.
  • You don't think Microsoft would like to test ARM64 W10M in the wild before putting it on their supposedly big comeback with the Surface Phones? It would be a hugh mistake to not sort out all problems first with insider builds. There's also other benefits beside the ability of more RAM as is mentioned in the article.  
  • This leaves Intel in a difficult position with Atom, which AFAIK is limited to 32-bit only.
  • If I'm remembering rightm a number of Atom processors are 64-bit - but the OS that comes on the tablets (mostly tablets) using them is 32-bit. I'll check on the Stream 7 tablet I have, but pretty sure that and the Venue 8 Pro show as a 64-bit CPU with 32-bit OS installed, and there's rarely 64-bit drivers issued by the device manufacturers.
  • Might find this an interesting read in general: https://blogs.intel.com/evangelists/2015/07/22/why-cheap-systems-run-32-...
  • Atom processors have been 64 bit for at least 2 gens now. And most of the new windows tablets are coming out as Windows 10 64bit. At least from what I have seen.
  • Well new hardware are welcome but sad that my old lumia 920 wont be getting any updates like redstone 1 and 2, sad, so sad. But looking forward to new hardwares.
  • Amendatory or mandatory?
  • Had that same thought, myself.  By the context, it should be mandatory, but perhaps they're trying to correct the enterprise and business environments?
  • It's reaching but yeah, perhaps.
  • So, should we've to buy a 64 bit compatible Lumia?
  • SD808, SD810, SD820 and SD830 are 64-bit processor.  SD2xx, SD400, SD617 and SD800 are not. 
  • SD617 is 64 bit.
  • At this point, I'd wait and see. If you NEED a phone now, buy a "backup" device (good and cheap). Current 32-bit devices likely won't update to the potential 64-bit OS, and you may not want them to, depending on how much RAM they have.
  • Right. Since the introduction of Cortex A35, even the lowest end smartphone will be 64 bit.
  • No more Lumia bud... =[
  • I don't know.  "our" could mean Microsofts, but the way it was used it could also be refering to the general public's smartphone OS's.
  • Yup, that is true. Having said that, it's been well known that MS is working on a 64-bit version of W10M and even hired some engineers for the task. Not much of a mystery at this point.
  • Well then I'm hoping my new Surface phone will be 64-bits.
  • My thought exactly. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • I wonder if the HP Elite X3 will take advantage of this? I think it has 4GB of RAM, wouldn't be able to fully use all that memory without 64-bit (correct me if I'm wrong?). Also considering it's an enterprise-focused device, it'd make sense.
  • Eyes read Dave Cutler. Brain swapped it out with Dave Coulier. Happy Friday everybody!
  • Cool. Long time coming.
  • Yeah, catching up to the iPhone 5s launch in 2013.
  • Yup, the phone that uses the least amount of RAM came out with a 64bit phone (while quietly boosting the phones hardware performance) and claiming it was a big deal. Apple is laughable. Posted via the Note 4/Nexus 7 (2013)/Lumia 1020/Lumia 2520
  •  It was a strategic move, primarily for iOS as an OS. And since then, subsequent versions of iOS are geared towards 64-bit. So the iPhone 5s has 100% backwards compatibility with the latest edition of the operating system. Wish we could say the same thing for Windows. 
  • Whilst there may well be little benefit to end users, surely there would be a benefit to Microsoft if they released a 64bit ROM for compatible existing devices... Telemetry and feedback from insiders? With all the effort they've put into the insider programme since W10, it seems inconceivable to me that they wouldn't also extend this to compatible devices for a whole additional branch of Mobile which inevitably will need a lot of testing. This obviously is only under the assumption that the 950/XL (as a whole) are in fact 64bit compatible.
  • Realistically speaking I think it will happen in Spring 2017 tbh, I mean the RS2 will be done then and HW might actually be coming at that point, not this year's Anniversary update...let's just be a bit more praggy 'bout this and we won't have to gnash our teeth later in the hell of our own making. =[
  • They must give us the possibility to flash the x64 w10m for 950/XL via wdrt. They must.
  • If Microsoft strategy to treat phone as another version of windows is any indication, recovery tool may allow for existing 64bit devices to install that version. After all, android devices were upgraded to 64bit marshmallow from 32bit lollipop. There are improvements in performance regardless of ram allotment such as more efficient use of cores.
  • Good move MS
  • Its just a phone...more than 4 gig ram is just not needed. Reminds me of android. Bit of good hardware bit of optimized software, Microsofts touch. Dont need anything else.
  • The surface 64 bite phone would not just be a phone that is the point. I have a work laptop and use it docked >90% of the time. It is just a moble desktop. I have a work phone too. Now I would love to have just a work phone that is my work pc, no big bags to lug around
  • I'll be the judge of that.. I remember when we didn't need more than 4k of ram.
  • Unless ms wants to make handheld pcs in that case discontinuing the use of your pc and replacing with a bigger phone a bigger processor more ram sort of destroys the whole point of an ecosystem...isnt the whole point to have perfect devices for their particular role and making their marriage perfect? I mean whete do we go after this? An 8 gig ram mobile phone? Come on guys.
  • Continuum should benefit alot with x64 systems....
  • No, Apple philosophy is one device for every role. Microsoft philosophy is one device for many roles. With this you would have a pc in your picket when docked and a phone we not. Businesses buy one device that dose both jobs. $300 for a phone $400 for a laptop that is used in a dock 90% of the time, or a phone that does both.
  • OK, so for now, windows 10 core only do 3 type of architech x86, x64, and ARM, and recent w10m is all ARM based. so the w10M x64 mentioned here would be x64 win10 run on mobile devices or a W10M on ARM with some x64 compatibility?
  • Actually the need to add another target. The could name it ARM64. Current developer tools do not allow to target ARM64 (AArch64) yet.
  • Hmm
  • Is windows phone changing again?
  • We should abolish the 32 architecture once and for all when phones start going to 64bit architectures'...
  • Article is a little bit confusing. "Qualcomm Snapdragon 808, 810 and 820 chipsets are64-bit based and fulfill the other half of the 64-bit equation namely the hardware. However, it is not probable that current phones will be able to upgrade from 32-bit to 64-bit" So if current phones are using the 64 bit basd chipsets, shouldn't those phones be able to upgrade the OS to 64 bit?  Yet the article says that's not likely, but doesn't really explain why.
  • Why? Because everything has to be replaced by a 64-bit version. Not just the OS and apps, but also the bootloader and the recovery system (the one triggered by key combinations). All drivers will have to be rewritten, too. Replacing a running 32-bit platform with a 64-bit OTA update is impossible, because upgrades start in the old system (have you noticed how there are installation stages before the spinning gears screen?) and 32-bit systems cannot execute 64-bit programs (have you noticed how in 32-bit Windows, you can't run x64 EXE files?); therefore if they prepare 64-bit images for existing handsets, flashing through WDRT or some other tool will be the only way to get them. Posted from Bikini Bottom via my Shell XPS 13
  • Amazingly, that makes sense.
  • You dont have to execute 64 bit code while updating. At one point in the update process you boot in 64 bit mode. From there on you can run both 64 bit and 32 bit code.  
  • Didn't Android do it from lollipop to marshmallow? Posted via the Windows Central App for Android only because the screen on my 1520 broke.
  • The OTA update cannot replace the lowest level code, the bootloader. And the 32-bit NT OS kernel doesn't support any 64-bit thing. Sent from Bikini Bottom via my Shell iVenue Pro 8"
  • Even if this is the case, you can very well execute 32 bit boot loader and switch to 64 bit later (e.g. as part of entering the OS kernel). On technical level there is no restriction at when you enter 64 bit mode but surely you do want to have 64 bit kernel.
  • Switching to another mode has never been possible in NT. It was possible with Windows 95, 98, 98 SE and ME though. Posted from Bikini Bottom via my Shell XPS 13
  • Possibly a hint at "we might abandon u again" or a surface phone teaser.
  • Nice my Blu HD LTE has x64 410 woot!
  • As a matter of love for Microsoft despite having the Lumia 930 I still bought the the Lumia 650 but honestly I can wait to get any high end Surface phone as my two Lumia are working to satisfaction. I'm an unconditional lovers of anything windows ecosystem. Bravo folks.
  • Future smartphones, lol.
  • Does anyone had a problem on their Bluetooth!? Mine was disabled and greyed
  • Sweet. Another way for Microsoft to completely abandon their customers. Posted via the Note 4/Nexus 7 (2013)/Lumia 1020/Lumia 2520