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Windows 10 machines running on ARM may soon emulate x64 apps

Windows laptops and convertibles running ARM are not exactly the majority of the market at the moment, but there are several of them there – including Microsoft’s own updated Surface Pro X, which was just announced today.

One of the reasons why not all consumers have taken the plunge is that running traditional x86 apps on these Windows 10 ARM machines poses significant limitations. Among the biggest: there is no support at all for running 64-bit x86 applications in emulation, only 32-bit.

Today, Microsoft announced in a lengthy blog post that this limitation will soon change as emulation of 64-bit Windows applications soon enters a public testing phase. It solves one of the biggest complaints about the platform – complaints that have only grown as more popular applications have been converted to just 64-bit as the months have passed.

Microsoft also announced several new, app-specific developers for ARM-native apps. Visual Studio Code “has also been updated and optimized for Windows 10 on ARM,” it said.

The announcement noted that Microsoft “makes Microsoft Edge” faster on ARM and also improves its impact on battery life. Additionally, the company announced that a Windows on ARM native Microsoft Teams client is around the corner.

While Windows on ARM has been a relatively slow engine, it has not prevented competitors from moving forward with ARM plans. Apple is expected to launch the first ARM-based Mac later this year.

macOS has already recently lost support for 32-bit applications, and Apple will offer Rosetta 2 to emulate 64-bit macOS apps on ARM Macs (which the company calls “Macs with Apple Silicon”).

Whether (and how) Mac users will be able to virtualize Windows x86 applications on Apple Silicon Macs is still unknown. x64 emulation will first be introduced to ARM Windows machines via the Windows Insider program next month.

List image by Microsoft

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