Windows 10 Now Supports Arm64 Apps on Arm Devices

Microsoft announced this week that with the release of Visual Studio 15.9, developers can now build native 64-bit Arm applications for Windows 10 on Arm devices. Additionally, it’s accepting such app submissions for the Microsoft Store.

Native Arm64 Apps for Windows 10

Although this isn’t the first time we’re seeing native Arm applications for Windows 10, the previous applications were only 32-bit. Moreover, the x86 applications were all emulated to run on Arm hardware, which means more sluggish performance of your regular Windows 10 apps on Windows-based Arm devices.

In addition to being able to build 64-bit versions of Arm applications with the new Visual Studio, developers have also gained the ability to re-compile both Universal Windows Platform (UWP) and C++ Win32 legacy programs to run natively on Windows on Arm devices. According to Microsoft, running natively allows the applications to take full advantage of the processing power of Windows 10 for Arm devices.

Microsoft also noted that even the more powerful second-generation Arm machines running Windows 10--Lenovo and Samsung devices using a Qualcomm Snapdragon 850 CPU--combined with the native 64-bit Arm applications should offer a much improved experience. However, this will largely depend on how fast developers can re-compile their x86 programs for Windows on Arm. For some apps it could take weeks, while others may take years or might never offer an Arm binary file. After all, we can still spot programs that don’t have 64-bit versions even today.

How to Develop Arm64 Apps

To start developing Arm64 apps for Windows on Arm devices, you will need to update Visual Studio to version 15.9 and install a component called “Visual C++ compilers and libraries for ARM64,” as shown in the image below:

After the update is complete, you will see Arm64 as an available build configuration. For existing projects, you will need to add an Arm64 build configuration to your project, following Microsoft’s instructions.

Although Windows on Arm devices don’t benefit from the legacy programs that conventional x86 machines do, Arm devices should bring more competition in the PC market, even if only at the lower-end or mid-range of the market for now.

As consumers become more accustomed with them, that should also give developers an incentive to re-compile their x86 applications to Arm64 the next time they provide an update for their application.

Lucian Armasu
Lucian Armasu is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He covers software news and the issues surrounding privacy and security.
  • hannibal
    If this works even half fine. It will bring some more competition to ultra light computers.
    At least it will make those arm processors somewhat better in win10 platform, but still niche...
  • Tuishimi
    I really hope they push forward with this (ARM devices) and that support continues to improve. That would in turn encourage the production of more powerful and competitive RISC CPUs.
  • somebodyspecial
    I just hope at some point we get 85w versions of ARM chips, AND they run on something OTHER than Qualcomm at some point too.

    1/2 the planet doesn't need a windows PC as most just use internet (social media crap etc) and get email. I can't wait to see an 85w PC arm chip with all the PC trimmings currently in my PC box. IE, SSD, HD's, huge heastink/fan, discrete vid cards etc etc. I'm hoping NV gets back in at some point in the ARM race. We'd get some great gaming ARM pc's then for sure. Nobody can match NV's gpus on arm. So until they get in on this, I'm not sure gaming will be at the forefront of the ARM race. It seems it's an afterthought. I really thought NV would push games for shield devices, as that is what GROWS hardware sales. Apple didn't knock off RIMM until they had games and exchange support. But that was all it took to take down RIMM's whole business model...LOL. What's up NV, make a move dang it!

    I'm guessing Qcom has some exclusivity deal with windows on ARM. The question is how long is that time period? I guess we'll have to wait and see, or I just missed that info? Anyone have details on this? Think about it, I'm sure NV would like to make $100 on $200 LARGE socs at ~85w etc. They make socs for $20-35, and could easily double or even triple the size and still make a mint on them at $200 (50%+ margins easily). IE apples soc is estimated at $72 for iphone XS max models.
    That soc cost includes a modem that isn't needed on a PC version either so NV could easily make one for $70-80 and sell it for $200 vs. Intel's top desktop chips (below HEDT I mean, think 8700k etc). That's a pretty huge margin, and worth doing until the apps etc catch up. Most wouldn't mind shaving $200 off a good gaming machine that does web/email crap no problem.

    Again, GAMING is what will make ARM assault PC's. They already do most of what people want in chromebook etc models (web/social/email). Add BETTER games and watch sales explode. Googleplay already has over 100 games I'd like to play easily. Very high quality also now. Graphics look like consoles in many cases. The best part is, due to lacking gpu power etc, they concentrate on FUN FACTOR more than many pc makers who are just glitz/graphics and not really addictive game play. Not saying that there aren't some really addictive PC games, just saying I could do without 50mil graphic fests in favor of spending much more time on FUN factor.

    I think this is what is bringing back RPG's in a major way. They suck you in for 100hrs and you get major bang for the buck while not needing reflexes of a teenager to play them :) DOS 2, Pillars etc etc. They weren't made for witcher 3 style financing, but they sure do suck the life out of your free time...ROFL. Witcher 3 looks great, don't get me wrong (a few really get things right!), but it isn't needed obviously to sell large numbers of units. Witness sales of games like torchlight2 etc. That games was made for a few million. Too bad they burned out on it and made hob (a great game anyway, but I'm an RPG/strat guy...LOL). It's easier than ever now with all the great game engines being cheap or free until you sell your game (IE, unreal etc). Unreal even has massive amounts of training vids (100's of hours) for free on youtube.