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Microsoft states that x64 emulation is only available on Windows 11 on ARM PCs

Surface Pro X
Surface Pro X (Image credit: Daniel Rubino/Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft discussed the status of x64 emulation for Windows on ARM today.
  • The company confirmed that a PC running Windows 11 on ARM is required to utilize x64 emulation.
  • Microsoft notes that x64 emulation for Windows is only generally available in Windows 11.

People with the Surface Pro X, Galaxy Book Go, and other Windows on ARM devices will have to upgrade to Windows 11 to utilize x64 emulation. Microsoft discussed the emulation of x64 apps today alongside the announcement of the Windows 10 November 2021 Update and Windows 10 shifting to only one major update per year.

Microsoft explained that x64 emulation for Windows is only generally available in Windows 11. It added that people that want to experience x64 emulation will need to upgrade to Windows 11 on ARM. Microsoft's phrasing suggests that x64 emulation will not roll out to Windows 10 on ARM PCs at any point in the future.

Microsoft tested x64 emulation on Windows 10 on ARM for around one year, but the feature will not ship to the older OS.

Windows 10 on ARM will receive support and security updates until October 14, 2025. After that date, it will fall out of support.

While many big-name apps, including Microsoft Teams, can natively run on Windows on ARM hardware, there are some programs that require emulation. Many video and photo editors are x64 apps. Several games are also x64, though even with emulation, devices like the Surface Pro X won't compete with the best gaming laptops.

Our executive editor goes into depth regarding app compatibility in his Surface Pro X review.

The ability to run x64 apps may be more important for devices that run Qualcomm's upcoming ARM processors built by the Nuvia team. These processors could rival Apple's M-Series chips, which would be a big win for Windows 11 on ARM PCs.

Sean Endicott
Sean Endicott

Sean Endicott is the news writer for Windows Central. If it runs Windows, is made by Microsoft, or has anything to do with either, he's on it. Sean's been with Windows Central since 2017 and is also our resident app expert. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com.

10 Comments
  • The only TECHNICAL reason for this is the new Scheduling component included in Windows 11 which handles the BIG.Little ARM architecture much better than before (mostly to support the new Alder Lake Intel chips.) I suspect it's more a MARKETING reason however.
  • Simpler to just buy an X64 PC. Then you don't need to worry about emulation at all. Unless you want to run Android apps.
  • ... but then you get less battery life, thicker and heavier PC, etc. There are trade-offs. But sure, if you're primary apps are x64 then ARM is not your best bet.
  • For me, x64 is a very nice nice-to-have, but not mandatory. So I prefer my SPx which is fanless and lighter/thinner than any current Intel device.
  • I have both and ARM on the SPX is outstanding. battery life far, far better and it's quick .
  • I have windows 11 on my pro x and it says x64 apps are incompatible with my processor, for example the Xbox app in the app store, how to I get emulation support?
  • I read your comment (and because x64 apps do work on my Surface Pro X) I headed to the MS Store and I read incompatible processor. So I manually downloaded the .msix installer file from the store and manually installed it. It worked.
  • How do I do that?
  • My first inclination is that this smells of MS trying to boost their W11 install numbers while the OS receives mixed reviews from users (I, for one, think is pointless to update unless you have specific hardware that it works well on). But after thinking about it, there are so few Windows on ARM computers in the wild, this actually just sounds like a cost cutting measure to reduce support. Either way, its kinda a FU to users who buy these platforms in that MS just abandons support even though x64 emulation works today on 10.
  • TBF, if one has a WoA device, there's really no reason not to upgrade to W11. Gaining this emulation feature extends the benefit of an ARM device if one already has chosen it for the benefits it offers.