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Microsoft Ditches x64 App Emulation for Windows 10 on Arm

Windows 10 laptop
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Microsoft announced that Windows 10 PCs running on Qualcomm Snapdragon Arm SoCs would receive x64 emulation support in October 2020, and Windows Insider builds soon arrived. Today, however, Microsoft just poured cold water all over those aspirations, confirming that x64 emulation will no longer be offered in future Windows 10 Insider Preview builds (or release builds).

“x64 emulation for Windows is now generally available in Windows 11,” said Microsoft in a blog post first noticed by Paul Thurrott. “For those interested in experiencing this, a PC running Windows 11 on Arm is required.”

For those that need a refresher, x64 emulation allows Windows 10 on Arm devices to run apps designed for x86-64 processors from Intel and AMD. There’s a performance hit with emulation, but it’s worth it for many users to have access to a broader library of apps, including popular ones like Adobe’s Creative Cloud suite that requires an x86-64 processor to run. 

Microsoft’s latest snub is disappointing news for folks testing x64 emulation with Windows 10 on Arm. It’s even more of a bummer for those that have no interest in upgrading to Windows 11. However, Microsoft is simply dangling a carrot in front of developers and everyday users to upgrade to Windows 11. 

There’s no technical reason why Windows 10 should be left behind. But Microsoft has a greater incentive to push as many people to Windows 11 as soon as possible, and this is one way to accelerate that process for users with Arm-based systems. So, if you currently have a device like the Samsung Galaxy Book S (Snapdragon 8cx) or Microsoft Surface Pro X (Microsoft SQ1/SQ2), upgrading to Windows 11 is the only way to continue with x64 emulation.

We should note that standard 32-bit x86 emulation is still supported with Windows 10 on Arm and will be for the near future. “Microsoft is committed to supporting customers on Windows 10 on Arm through October 14, 2025,” the company added in its statement.

Brandon Hill

Brandon Hill is a senior editor at Tom's Hardware. He has written about PC and Mac tech since the late 1990s with bylines at AnandTech, DailyTech, and Hot Hardware. When he is not consuming copious amounts of tech news, he can be found enjoying the NC mountains or the beach with his wife and two sons.

  • hotaru251
    so basically like TPM yet another cheap way to try and force ppl to upgrade to WIN11.
    Reply
  • hotaru.hino
    There's the question if enough people care about Windows 10 for ARM though.

    Or Windows for ARM in general. Because if the demand isn't there, there's no point in supporting the old.
    Reply
  • jp7189
    hotaru251 said:
    so basically like TPM yet another cheap way to try and force ppl to upgrade to WIN11.
    Um just like you said, but exactly the opposite.
    Reply