Microsoft's ARM64 support for Windows 10 coming with 'Redstone wave'

Microsoft's vision of Windows 10 is going even broader with recent job postings confirming various plans including support for Windows 10 desktop on ARM and more tantalizing "Windows 10 Mobile x86" (cough, Surface Phone).

Now, another job description posted confirms plans for Windows 10 ARM64 support coming with the Redstone releases slated for this year. The job is for a Senior Program Manager and was spotted by WalkingCat (aka @h0x0d). With the job posting comes some interesting bits about Microsoft's plans for their all-powerful OS.

The Microsoft Careers job posting notes the following about the 'OS Foundation PM' job:

"Do you want to help usher in a new era of devices customers are passionate about and clamoring to have? Are you passionate about creating the operating system foundation to enable breathtaking experiences?...Windows across all device categories is readying for the introduction of 64 bit computing with the ARM instruction set (ISA). Bringing a new ISA to market involves working both broadly and deeply across Microsoft from devdiv to WDG to Server to Office and others depending on the scope of product target."

The big takeaway there is "Windows across all device categories is readying for the introduction of 64 bit computing with the ARM instruction set (ISA)". Additionally, Office and Server is mentioned as well, which is fascinating.

Some of the responsibilities of the job include:

  • Building the plan for ARM64 aligned with the Redstone wave
  • Identify the "big rocks" we need to move, solve, make it happen
  • Build the all up view of where we are, drive the schedule
  • Work to ensure the necessary hardware is planned for and delivered on time
  • Drive performance and compatibility goals, define and drive to key metrics

Likewise, the bit about "necessary hardware" being planned for and delivered on time suggests Microsoft is working on this solution for their own device range.

In some ways, this move to ARM64 is 100% completely expected. Microsoft was rumored to be working on an ARM64 variant of Windows RT before that OS got shuttered. Other companies like Apple with iOS and Google with Android are well into the 64-bit revolution for mobile. Apple's new iPad Pro gets solid benchmarks and great battery life due to its ARM chip the A9X; the iPhone has had an ARM64 processor since the 5s series. However, setbacks in chip manufacturing and Microsoft shifting gears with Windows 10 have added some speedbumps, but at least according to this job descriptions ARM64 Windows 10 is coming and slated for this year and likely by the Fall.

What would an ARM64 OS enable? At least for phones, we could see devices head past 3GB of RAM into higher ranges like 4 or 8GB variants. Toss in the rumored x86-to-ARM just-in-time (JIT) emulator, reported earlier by Petri and you could have a potentially powerful OS that not only gets decent battery life but could run some classic x86 apps. Even then, such a system could be employed on lower cost computers, tablets or even new categories, something that the Surface Book and Surface seem to push.

At this time, there are certainly many more questions than answers.

We do know that Microsoft is very serious about putting Windows 10 everywhere and part of the entails making the OS run all hardware whether it is the older x86 instruction set or, the newer ARM64 one. At the very least, we should see some interesting devices this fall as Windows 10 continues to expand to new categories.

Source: Microsoft Careers; via @h0x0d

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central. He is also the head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007, when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and watches. He has been reviewing laptops since 2015 and is particularly fond of 2-in-1 convertibles, ARM processors, new form factors, and thin-and-light PCs. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.