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Report: Microsoft to Bring x64 App Emulation to Arm Processors

Microsoft Surface Pro X with an SQ1 Arm CPU. (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Microsoft plans to bring 64-bit Intel app emulation to Windows 10 on ARM, according to a report from Neowin. The publication cites "several sources," though Microsoft did not comment.

Those sources led the author at Neowin to believe that x64 emulation could come in Windows 10 21H1, with Insiders testing it out in 2020.

Windows 10 on ARM currently supports ARM and ARM64 apps natively and emulates 32-bit x86 apps. Up until now, the assumption was that 64-bit apps simply wouldn't be emulated, due to technical difficulties, performance or some combination of the two.

The lack of 64-bit emulation has meant that many programs simply don't run on Arm laptops, including Microsoft's own recently-released Surface Pro X. That machine uses a Microsoft SQ1 processor, a variant of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx. This would be a boon to Microsoft, PC vendors and Qualcomm if implemented well.

There would be a question, of course, about which version of an app should be presented to users for download in the Microsoft Store and elsewhere. Ideally, for Arm users, it would be a native app (Adobe, for instance, has pledged to do this but not provided a timeline). But if not, the store could offer 32-bit apps or 64-bit apps based on performance, or even let users choose.

Microsoft declined to comment to Neowin and told Tom's Hardware there's nothing to share at this time.

  • DavidC1
    Oh good only Apps are being brought. Not Applications.

    Wait, you guys are saying its the same thing?

    Apps = Simple, single task software usually in the smartphone space
    Applications = Fully featured software usually in the PC space

    Back on topic. Emulation/translation not only slows it down but compatibility is also suspect. It'll be slightly better than the current situation that's all.
    Reply
  • alextheblue
    DavidC1 said:
    Oh good only Apps are being brought. Not Applications.

    Wait, you guys are saying its the same thing?

    Apps = Simple, single task software usually in the smartphone space
    Applications = Fully featured software usually in the PC space

    Back on topic. Emulation/translation not only slows it down but compatibility is also suspect. It'll be slightly better than the current situation that's all.
    Semantics, and outdated at that. "Apps" on a smartphone or PC today includes a wide range of things. Increasingly you'll find the distinction blurring.
    Current x86-32 emulation is already quite decent. x86-64 emulation is nothing but a boon to users, and will vastly increase compatibility with the field of x86 software. Granted, native ARM binaries are far better, but it's great to still have reasonable x86 capability.
    It's also not pure emulation, every bit of MS code these programs rely on (Win32 libraries, for example) are already compiled to ARM which helps.
    Reply