What you need to know
- x64 emulation is coming to Windows on ARM PCs in November (Insider program).
- Microsoft Teams natively compiled for ARM64 is also coming soon.
- The news builds on recently announced Snapdragon PCs and support for the App Assure Program.
Microsoft has announced what we have been expecting for some time: x64 app emulation is coming to Windows 10 on ARM PCs. The news came through a blog post from Microsoft's Chief Product Officer, Panos Panay. The plan is to start rolling out the feature in November through the Windows Insider program, with a likely commercial rollout for Spring 2021.
Currently, Windows 10 on ARM laptops can only emulate 32-bit Windows apps in addition to running native apps compiled for ARM64. But many high-end applications and apps for enterprise rely on 64-bit-only editions, which are incompatible with ARM. That now changes and will open the gates for many more apps to run on devices like Surface Pro X, Samsung Galaxy Book S, and Lenovo Flex 5G.
There is no further detail on the limits and performance expectations of x64 emulation, but like 32-bit, it is likely to take a slight performance hit. Newer Windows 10 on ARM PCs with Qualcomm's just-announced Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2 should help with that as that chip is faster and more efficient.
Besides the x64 emulation, Microsoft will "soon release a native Microsoft Teams client optimized for Windows 10 on ARM" – an issue we complained about last year. Back in July, Microsoft noted that Microsoft Teams for ARM64 was planned, but no further details were given. Now, at least, it seems we are much closer to that release happening. Microsoft Teams is a crucial app during this work-from-home shift, and devices with Windows 10 on ARM are becoming increasingly important to enterprise and business users. While Microsoft Teams currently runs on ARM PCs, the performance is not nearly as good a natively compiled app.
Microsoft also announced Visual Studio code has also been updated and optimized for Windows 10 on ARM.
The news around Windows on ARM has been building. A week ago, Microsoft announced its App Assure Program was expanding to support Qualcomm Snapdragon PCs. The program helps devs and businesses streamline, optimize, and fix apps brought to the Windows on ARM architecture.
Windows 10 on ARM
The thinnest and lightest Surface Pro available
Surface Pro X delivers the most exciting design for the Surface Pro yet. While the ARM processor is faster than expected for many casual users, a Surface Pro 7 will be a smarter buy. But for those who need a light, thin, LTE-enabled productivity laptop, the Surface Pro X offers a unique set of features not found anywhere else. It's not a bad PC; it just needs the right owner.
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Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, 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 for some reason, watches. 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.