Windows 10 ARM x64 app emulation

A new report throws light on an interesting yet much-needed development that’s happening under Microsoft’s roof. The company is working on an emulator that will help run 64-bit Intel apps (aka AMD64 or x64 apps) on Windows 10 ARM-based machines.

Neowin, citing sources, reveals that the said 64-bit Intel app emulator could arrive on Windows 10 ARM with the release of the 21H1 feature update. And Windows Insiders will be able to test the emulator during the next year.

However, Microsoft has declined to make any comments regarding the development of the emulator. Still, an x64 emulator in the pipeline shouldn’t be a total surprise.

As you might know, Microsoft and Qualcomm have joined hands to come up with reasonably powerful Always-Connected PCs that can wake up instantly and run Windows 10 OS all day long. The Snapdragon 8cx that managed to beat an Intel Core i5 chip is among the ARM-powered chips that are much talked about.

So, that means the power gap with Intel is decreasing with time. However, there is one area where the efforts fall short: app support.

Windows 10 ARM supports native 64-bit ARM apps and also has an emulator built-in for running 32-bit x86 apps. But it’s missing out on all those 64-bit apps that can access more RAM and provide far better performance on non-ARM machines right now. The fewer number of native 64-bit ARM apps also adds to the pain.

In fact, Redmond’s very own Surface Pro X, which houses its new custom ARM chip (SQ1), faces the same scarcity of apps. So, building an emulator as quickly as possible makes much more sense.

However, one thing we need to see is how much performance difference the 64-bit emulation will bring into the picture (if it ever sees daylight). Right now it’s suggested that 32-bit emulation provides better performance.

Probably, that’s the reason x64 emulation for ARM hasn’t gained much traction until now. Anyway, let’s wait and see what the company is baking for the future. Maybe, we would end up seeing more of the native 64-bit ARM apps instead.

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Aditya Tiwari
Aditya likes to cover topics related to Microsoft, Windows 10, and interesting gadgets. But when he is not working, you can find him binge-watching random videos on YouTube (after he has wasted an hour on Netflix trying to find a good show). Reach out at [email protected]