Windows 11's next update will boost emulated apps even if you don't have a Copilot+ PC

Surface Pro 9
Copilot+ PCs are not the only systems that will get a performance boost when running emulated apps. (Image credit: Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • The next major update to Windows 11 will include Microsoft's Prism emulation, which promises 10 to 20% better performance when running an app through emulation.
  • Windows 11 version 24H2 will ship to most PCs this fall, but it will ship first in Copilot+ PCs that will come out on June 18, 2024.
  • Many app makers have optimized their apps for Arm, but there are still several well-known often-used applications that have to run through emulation on Arm PCs.

Microsoft's focus on Arm computing has caused excitement among enthusiasts, the press, and those looking to buy a new computer. But there are questions surrounding Windows 11 on Arm. Microsoft's Arm efforts have been a mixed bag over the years, though they have trended upward of late. But with just about every major PC manufacturer announcing Arm-powered PCs, people want to know if Windows 11 on Arm is ready for primetime. One of the biggest questions is how non-native apps will perform on Arm.

The best app performance will always happen when an app runs on Arm natively. Luckily for those with Copilot+ PCs and other Windows 11 on Arm systems, big-name app makers are jumping on board Microsoft's train to an Arm-powered future. Google Chrome, Spotify, Zoom, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom, Blender, and DaVinci Resolve are already optimized for Arm. Adobe also shared a commitment to optimize its suite for Arm, including Premiere Pro.

But there will always be some apps that need to be emulated. One of the strengths of Windows is its backward compatibility. With the ability to run older apps comes the option to use apps that haven't been updated in a while. There are also newer apps that haven't been updated for Arm yet. In those cases, you'll have to use emulation.

Microsoft unveiled its Surface Pro 11 and Surface Laptop 7 this week and other PC manufacturers followed suit. Acer, ASUS, Dell, HP, Lenovo, Microsoft, and Samsung all have Copilot+ PCs shipping soon. Those PCs all have one thing in common; they're powered by Snapdragon X processors. Those Arm chips promise impressive battery life and exclusive AI features. But being Arm-powered also means that some apps will have to run through emulation.

Surface Pro 9 with 5G powered by Qualcomm

Even older Arm PCs will benefit from Prism emulation that ships with the next major update of Windows 11. (Image credit: Windows Central)

Windows on Arm has supported some form of emulation for years, but emulating apps on Windows 11 is about to get a lot better. Windows 11 version 24H2 promises a boost of between 10 to 20% when running emulated apps, even if you're on a system that is not a Copilot+ PC, as reported by Ars Technica.

Those running newer processors, like the Snapdragon X Elite or Snapdragon X Plus will see the best emulated performance. Microsoft claims emulated apps running on a Snapdragon X Elite will be more than twice as fast as a Windows on Arm device from the previous generation. But even for those using older hardware, there are benefits on the way with Windows 11 version 24H2.

Microsoft says that 87% of total app minutes people spend on Arm PCs will be on apps optimized for Arm. Of course, that also means 13% of the time you won't be using native Arm apps, and that's assuming you fit into the workflow that led to the figure.

Microsoft specified that its 87% statistic is based on "snapshot of aggregated, non-gaming app usage data as of April 2024 for iGPU-based laptops and 2-in-1 devices running Windows 10 and Windows 11 in US, UK, CA, FR, AU, DE, JP."

Whether you fall into that category or not, Microsoft says that thanks to Prism, "your apps run great, whether native or emulated."

We won't have to wait long to see if these promises prove true in real-world testing. The first wave of Copilot+ PCs start shipping with Prism emulation on board on June 18, 2024. We'll then get to test more PCs that are using emulation when Windows 11 version 24H2 becomes generally available in fall.

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at